There is no magic formula to running a profitable advice business, but adhering to certain principles can help.
For Openwork, the key to success rests on a partnership model, to which it rebranded last year, pledging to place clients at the heart of its business and working together to deliver growth.
The advice company has more than 4,000 advisers and currently manages £10.65bn of client money. It has been awarded the Best Companies accreditation for the past two years.
Setul Mehta, head of business development and adviser services at The Openwork Partnership, tells FTAdviser In Focus about what drives business at the company and why it chose to restructure as a partnership.
FTA: What is the secret to running a profitable advice business?
SM: There’s no magic formula beyond sound business practice: (a) provide the right level of support at the right quality, (b) have an eye on emerging and changing practices, (c) have the right commercials in place to make it attractive and safe, (d) don’t deprioritise governance.
When that all works you can elevate the support you provide by creating value through robust marketing, business development, management information, training and development, and technology.
Finally, and the most important, communicate with advisers, back-office staff, partners and clients regularly and consistently. In the advice space, silence creates questions (even when there aren’t any), so there is nothing more comforting than knowing you are being engaged.
FTA: Why did you change your business model to a partnership?
SM: In essence we have always been a partnership, but following our independence when we became a wholly-owned business between advisers and colleagues, it created the first step of being a true partnership between these core stakeholder groups.
It was only natural to then incorporate that spirit into our name, vision, and values. Our organisational promise is ‘To make it easier to face the financial future with confidence and optimism’ – at the heart of this is working in partnership with each other.
FTA: How has this new model changed how you work with your advisers?
SM: With a partnership there is a two-way accountability, so not only do we collaborate with each other, we also hold each other accountable for the standards we all expect to ensure clients get the advice they need.
We actively involve advisers – and where appropriate clients – in new initiatives to help grow client outcomes through improved propositions and services. There is a great feeling of ‘one partnership’ because of this change.
FTA: You have been awarded the Best Companies accreditation – why are your staff and advisers happy to work for you?
SM: We’ve been fortunate to be recognised for our well-established culture and behaviours. This is borne out of a strong work ethic, a strategy that everyone is working towards and supporting, and most importantly, being able to see first-hand results generated from the activity that takes place.