The real resolutions



We all set New Year’s resolutions: eat better, drink less, exercise more... But when 1 January came around this year, did you make any New Year’s resolutions for your business?

Statistics say only 12 per cent of Australians stick to their resolutions, so I can understand why you might have taken a pass on the tradition. But don’t let a statistic put you off this year.

2014 was a transformative year for our industry. So if you’ve been lagging when it comes to making serious changes in your business, 2015 is the year to refocus.

Here are four resolutions that you should be making – and keeping – in your business this year.

1.       I will lead an industrial revolution (in my office).

Is your office full of manila folders spilling out paperwork from the '90s? Are you still unsure what a “hashtag” really is? If you answered yes to one of these, it might be time for a change.

Processes like record keeping, file notes and client file management were highlighted as a cause for concern in the recent ASIC risk report. So why not apply some modern technology to your office.

  • Think about incorporating at least one time-saving app into your business. For example, if you use a clunky scanner to save electronic copies of documents, instead try a smartphone or tablet app like Genius Scan or To PDF that turns photos into high resolution PDFs and sends them to your email inbox.

  • Don’t be afraid to get some help. Consider investing in a one-time temporary employee to put some streamlined processes in place. Gen Y have grown up with technology, so they’re great people to draw on, or you can lean on your licensee for support.

Similarly, if you haven’t 'gone digital' with a great website and a social media profile yet, it’s time.

  • If your website is already set up, give it a quick review and do at least one thing to improve it. Take a look at our tips for empowering your website. If you don’t have a website yet, check out free website providers like Wordpress or Squarespace. They  make it simple to create one, even if you aren’t a marketing guru.

  • Be brave and get social, one account at a time. Start with LinkedIn and commit to sharing one interesting article you’ve seen per month. Then build from there.

2.       I will embrace my inner risk professional (and say farewell to the 'insurance salesman').

It’s a moving beast, but the time is coming when the sale of products will no longer drive our industry – the provision of advice will.

I’m not saying soft skills like sales and product know-how are redundant; just that the true risk professional is growing their offer to include more than just risk insurance.

  • Expand your advice process to consider your client’s cash flow, superannuation and estate planning in more depth. Check out our story on the four pillars of risk advice as a starting point.

  • Plug any gaps in your offer with trusted professionals from your network. You have them – business associates, friends, colleagues – you just need to work with them.

3.       I will stop working (at least for long enough to take a good, hard look at my business).

If you can’t seem to find five minutes to think about your business before another meeting is happening or another SOA is being written, you’re not alone.

As financial advisers, you keep the wheels turning and the revenue generating for your business. But now is the time to consider how potential changes to remuneration could impact your future income.

  • Review your P&L. Enlist your business consultant or practice development manager if you need some help. If upfront commissions were to go, what would that mean for your business?

  • If you haven’t already, consider moving one in every five clients to hybrid or level commission, or have a conversation about transitioning to fee for service with one client a week. Start small.

4.       I will be a student once again (classroom optional).

Before you (probably reluctantly) reach for the text book, remember that education comes in many forms, not just from the classroom. Being a financial adviser and a business owner can be a lonely game so make a point of committing to your ongoing education by learning from your peers.

  • Attend two events this year. Seminars or networking events, run by your licensee or a product provider, within financial advice or outside it, just go. You can meet new people, have great conversations, maybe even strike up a new partnership – and that’s before sessions even start.

  • Join an industry membership body. This one’s a no brainer. You get easy access to events and to like-minded individuals, and if you are ready to go back to the classroom, you’ll get access to training and courses like the Chartered Life Practitioner qualification as well.

So tell me risk professionals of Australia, what will you achieve in 2015?

Craig Parker, Affinia Financial Advisers

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