Being certain in a time of uncertainty requires a plan. By creating certainty, you can preserve your business for the future.
Feedback from FSPs during the current compliance monitoring period indicates that big and small businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as lockdown regulations are relaxed, FSPs are continuing to adjust their operations where possible to prevail through the storm.
As a business owner and/or key individual, you may find yourself attending to what feels like an insurmountable number of demands. These may range from strategic to day-to-day decisions; from business profitability and sustainability, to employee well-being and productivity, client satisfaction and client retention.
You may also be experiencing a wide range of risks. These may be practical issues that relate to operational ability, like slow internet speed or difficulty in keeping records when communicating with older, computer illiterate A-clients. There may also be financial risks, like loss of income or increased cybercrime.
Furthermore, your administration may have increased as you help clients reduce their premiums, apply for premium holidays or change drawdown percentages on living annuities.
Perhaps you are asking yourself questions, such as how your business can adjust operations to go from strength to strength even during lockdown. Or maybe you are pondering what practices to implement to ensure business continuity while not everyone is back at the office and fully operational. Maybe you are wondering how to keep your business profitable and sustainable by standing strong, as the ‘leader of the pack.’
FSP success stories
The challenges of current times may seem daunting, however, Masthead is here to support advisors. We are also pleased to share success stories from FSPs. For instance, some FSPs experienced an easy transition from office to home. They set up their employees at home with computers and redirected the office telephone lines to a senior employee’s home. This employee then redirects queries to the relevant person.
Other FSPs with reliable internet and consistent speed promoted business continuity and made it easier to do business remotely. Good internet connectivity enables uninterrupted client and employee communication, as well as digital business transactions. A reliable internet connection also mitigates the potential loss of client information, as back-ups to cloud storage can be seamlessly performed.
Furthermore, many FPS continued to hold client meetings, but in an online space via Zoom or MS Teams. These face-to-face interactions contribute to client retention and growth. Many FSPs are also better controlling their internet expenses. Instead of continuously buying data, many have opted for a connection package at a fixed cost with uncapped internet access.
Plan for the future
As a result of all these changes, some FSPs are considering whether their offices are really needed. But before making any major decisions, one thing is clear: you need a plan and a vision of the future to get through these uncertain times.
By identifying what needs to be done now and in the next few weeks and months, you can create certainty for yourself, your family, employees and clients. You can then determine the outcome of this situation and preserve your business for the future.
Start by taking time to think of life before COVID-19, and even further back to when you had a dream and vision for your business. What was this dream that gave your business direction and, with your skills and experience, led to its success? What story did you want people to tell when interacting with your business? Which business events and milestones demonstrated your value proposition and business culture?
By revisiting your original idea and business plan, you can remind yourself of the reason why you started your business, and the love, sweat and tears you poured into building it. This may also renew your sense of purpose and create more entrepreneurial thinking. A positive mindset often motivated you to lead your business through times of uncertainty and difficulty in the past. So, let it do so again.
Inspiration and positive thinking
Think too of how you portray yourself as a leader. According to an IBM survey among CEOs, one of the top three leadership traits is the ability to inspire. Bain & Company identifies this trait in leaders who use their strengths to prompt employees to take on daring tasks and then hold them accountable for their performance. In turn, this exerts improved performance through empowerment.
There is no better time to display this trait than the present. As a business owner, you are the centre of your universe. Without you there to lead, your business and what you have worked for could fall down. Inspiration is often what gives businesses access to their employees’ discretionary energy. It is also the key to efficiently utilising one of your most valuable resources: your employees.
Research also shows that positive thinking increases one’s capacity to absorb additional information and this impacts how you perceive situations. Being a positive thinker, you can quickly arrive at solutions and attend to problems that may arise. This is a useful skill in a time where there are more problems than usual.
Other points to consider
There are other points to consider when developing a plan to navigate through uncertain times. For instance, ask yourself how you can grow your FSP. Is it time to actively start portfolio reviews? Can you initiate conversations with your client’s children regarding their financial knowledge and education? Can you facilitate conversations around the family and passing on the legacy?
Find out if your clients are aware of the increase in cybercrime and if they have taken the necessary measures in terms of cyber security. Have you analysed feedback from your clients and employees? If so, do you need to revisit your service level agreements to adapt to clients’ new needs and concerns?
Has your business been operating efficiently during lockdown? If not, why not? What is that one change in your business you will carry forward even after lockdown? What three important things need to happen in your business right now and how will your business achieve these?
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” For the outcome to be a stronger and sustainable business, planning now can set your business in that direction.
Masthead can help you revisit your business plan and guide through some key strategic thinking processes that will ensure you focus on planning for your business’ future. Click here to register for the How to Create a Business Plan that Works webinar or contact your nearest Masthead Regional Office for assistance.
We would also like to keep track of what is happening in your world. Please feel free to share your positive stories, as well as your challenges, so we can explore ways to support you during the coming months. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org