Troy Theobold (left), Antoinette Mullins and Cody Harmon

The cost to give advice has continued to rise and while some factors are outside of the control of advice practices, some businesses are driven to keep innovating and find solutions to help efficiency.

Professional Planner spoke to five practices to find out what have been the two best changes they’ve made to their businesses.

Cody Harmon, multi family office adviser, Cruz:

  1. Completed two capital raises: In the past 12 months, we’ve successfully completed two capital raises and also obtained our own AFSL. We’ve also expanded the business into insurance and planning.
  1. Accessed open banking data: We are one of the very few AFSL’s registered on the Consumer Data Right register to access open banking data.

Antoinette Mullins, financial adviser, Steps Financial:

  1. Merging with another business: I started my own financial planning business in 2019 but merged with other single-adviser business in 2021. Having a business partner that has your back and complements your skill set is an amazing way to do business.
  1. Outsourcing admin tasks: We realised early on that we can’t do it all, so we outsourced. Using an outsourced admin service to supplement our Australian staff has saved us so we can spent time on more technical work. Using a virtual assistant for social media builds our presence as is now a reliable source of referrals for us.

Chris Giaouris, partner, Chronos Private:

  1. Introduce offshore staff to our team: The introduction of offshore staff has provided us with benefits which were both expected and unexpected. It’s well documented now how working with our colleagues in other countries can generate significant cost savings and efficiencies for practices here in Australia. One of the unexpected benefits we’ve seen though is to our culture, in particularly getting to know other cultures and sharing things about our own. It’s been refreshing to get to know new people with different challenges and it’s kept us on our toes when it comes to processes and our own communication skills, making us overall better professionals.
  2. Offer a full suite of services to clients: We introduced financiers into our business in the last 12 months to create what some of our staff now refer to as ‘The Holy Trinity’ of services to clients. By combining financial advice, accounting and lending we’re able to provide a holistic offer to clients where there’s a combined effort to ensure everything we do compliment the clients broad strategy. Clients themselves have found this to be a refreshing addition as they know we are all in constant contact, working together to get them the best outcomes and clients don’t need to repeat themselves time and time again.

Troy Theobald, director of financial services, RFS Advice:

  1. Model portfolios that allow you to control the asset allocation of all clients: We had started this process over six years ago via the use of SMA and model portfolios. There’s a lot of work to establish and ongoing improvements along the way. You need to have a clearly defined process and having an independent on the Investment committee is invaluable. Our approach is so much more robust based on the combined thinking of the Investment committee. When as a team you go through investment cycles it helps build out the strengths of the team. We now have over $1 billion in these approaches and are looking to offer these models eternally and with scale drive cost savings and pass 100 per cent of these back to the investors.
  2. The implementation of lower cost active strategies: There’s a large number of factor or quality-based approaches that has provided access to allow you to have a more active style at a much lower cost than previously available. I believe this pricing pressure has influenced the costs of active management. You can have simple low costs factor based approaches to better deliver of specific desired outcomes.

Charles Badenach, principal and private client adviser, Main Street Financial Solutions:

  1. Used a business coach to help us remain focused on the key areas of the business: We’ve used a number of business coaches over the years as we find that while they have all been valuable for us, the law of diminishing returns applies so that you need to re-engage a new one every three or four years. This has enabled us to work locally while also engaging both nationally and internationally.
  2. Outsourcing the investment role to an asset consultant: We’ve been using managed accounts now for nearly five years and it’s been a game changer for us in terms of efficiency, transparency, client education and most importantly, the outcome for the clients have improved. This freeing up of time and resources has enabled us to form deeper connections with our clients by focusing on what is really important to them.