Cartoon working little people cross the abyss. Doodle cute miniature scene of team on the bridge like lamp idea. Hand drawn vector illustration for business design and infographic.

There’s a lot going on at the moment. If you’re in large institutional dealer group, the axe has probably either fallen or you’re wondering when it’s going to. There’s no doubt about it, t’s a stressful time to be in financial planning.

However, as the owner of a small business, you can’t just focus on your own stress and managing that, you also need to support your staff through all this change.

Interestingly, as a business owner, you are probably far more used to uncertainty and in some ways, much better equipped to deal with it that your team. It’s just part of being an entrepreneur, always worrying about money and clients and processes and efficiency and the robustness of your business and how much it’s worth, et cetera.

Your team on the other hand? They have opted to be employed rather than do their own thing. They expect that if they do a decent job, they still have said job next week/month/year. Well, they did think that. Now they are probably wondering:

  • Is your business going to survive?
  • Is the licensee going to exist in a month?
  • Are you going to fire half the staff to stay in business?
  • Are you going to sell or retire?
  • Should they consider a move into, well, any other industry aside from financial planning?

The question is, how do you make sure that you don’t lose your best people right when you need them most? Here’s a few ideas.

  1. Talk to them! Don’t hide away in your office and try to shield them from the stress. Your people know you well and they can read the news like everyone else. Even though you might be close to maxed out yourself, you still need to ask how you can support them. Imagine how much worse things will be if you don’t have them around. I’ve written previously about getting the most from one-on-one meetings.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Over communicate. All the time. If you don’t know what’s going to happen, explain that. Your team will appreciate your candour. Uncertainty is extremely stressful (as you are probably well aware right now) so the more certainty that you give your staff, the better. They will forgive you if your grand plans don’t eventuate, but they might not if you never tell them what the grand plans are and expect them just to keep trudging along regardless.
  3. Don’t get conned by the lure of fancy employee benefits or Friday drinks. While it’s nice to be able to reward your staff for a job well done, the fundamentals – knowing what’s expected, having the right tools, having a reasonable workload – are all FAR more important. Consider this example. You could spend $500 on a boozy lunch OR you could agree to pay $500 for the piece of software that will make your best staff member’s life that much better. Seems obvious when you consider them side by side, but it’s also easy to get excited about rewarding your team with a nice lunch vs the ‘boring business investment’ of that piece of software. And I tell you this from experience.
  4. Look after yourself. Try and get some exercise, eat OK, don’t scrimp on sleep, talk to your your partner, your friends, other financial planners. If you need to talk to a professional, then do so. Don’t bottle it up.

The next year or two will  be a marathon, not a sprint. And marathons are won by pacing yourself, having a great support team and concentrating on the things you can control. Look after your support team and they will look after your business.

Sarah Penn is the CEO of Mayflower Consulting. Her firm focuses on the intersection between client experience, staff management and regtech. Prior to founding Mayflower in 2013, Sarah worked at Macquarie Bank as a Division Director across a number of business areas including super, funds management, mortgages and financial planning software.
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