Like many financial advice practices, Covid-19 has become a bit of a line in the sand for Profile Financial Services, according to the advice business and licensee’s general manager Lena Ridley.

After the pandemic hit in March, Profile spent some time in “survival mode” but has since moved to think strategically about the business’s future, which has led to Ridley and the business leaders reevaluating its identity and how it operates.

Ridley admits she deliberately made the decision to get out of survival mode and back to growth by tightening market segmentation and providing great service. The firm is focused on growth, with the potential to purchase another firm or a merger being considered, Ridley reveals.

Ridley joins CoreData’s Simon Hoyle and Conexus Financial’s Matthew Smith to open Professional Planner’s new podcast series – The shape of advice. Listen to the first episode here.

Leaner in-house practices and a greater emphasis on clients to add greater value has translated to instant profits and better service for clients. Profile Financial  has outsourced some administrative tasks to the Philippines, reducing costs, she reveals.

“As an industry, we have transformed a hell of a lot since the 1980s and 1990s, and we will continue to do so. The pace of regulatory change goes up and down, and we’re riding a wave of digital transformation which will affect lots of areas of our business, and our lives,” Ridley says.

While online meetings have been common, some prospects still want to come into the office and look the advisor in the eye to get a sense of them early in the relationship, she says.

“We spend a lot of time with the 12 advisors in the business talking with them about their target client and ensuring the best advice match for their personality in a bid to ensure customer retention, she says.

“We’re also spending a lot of time thinking about how we might need to alter our statement around market segment, how we’re pitching value proposition to both clients and employees, and how we deliver that in a commercial, profitable way,” Ridley says.

Double down on your strengths

The crucial part of navigating change is doubling down on your strengths, knowing your who clients are, how you articulate value and whether it works for those clients or not,  Simon Hoyle, head of market insights at CoreData, says.

There are a number of competing factors impacting how the Australian wealth management is evolving. Regulatory change, evolving professional standards, the Hayne royal commission, the impact of Covid-19 and new revenue models are forcing major structural change keeping the broader industry on high alert.

Hoyle has bear witness to the changes since he started writing about financial services and financial planning in the 1980s. He was courtside for the introduction of compulsory superannuation in the 1990s, which he says sparked a surge in demand for financial advice.