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Advisers should follow a 14-step programme for business growth

Advisers should not rely on chance, but should implement consistent and repeatable processes to stimulate business growth, according to Steve Billingham.

The director of West Sussex-based Steve Billingham Consulting has outlined a number of proactive steps intermediaries can take to ensure they remain one step ahead of rival firms.

The first is to hold quarterly business reviews for strategic business planning; while the second requires bosses to maintain an organised schedule so each working week contains three timezones: delivery to clients, business development and administration.

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The third is to create a keep-in-touch system to maintain a relationship with existing and potential clients that Mr Billingham said could generate additional business.

The fourth, fifth and sixth steps centre on marketing. “Take specific measures to develop enhanced services and differentiate the business from other providers - as opposed to hoping that clients don’t shop around,” he explained.

“Test the extent to which clients value the services you provide with key people to make sure they are relevant and helpful, as opposed to being seduced by your own story or wisdom.

“Bosses should ask themselves if there is a proven marketing and sales process that brings quality clients and is constantly being refined, as opposed to waiting, hoping or relying on someone else.”

The seventh step requires advisers to consider whether their dialogue with a prospective client adds value to their thinking and reaffirms their needs. The eighth is to endeavour to arrange a second meeting instead of offering to write a proposal, and/or face never hearing from the prospective client again.

On the next step, Mr Billingham said: “When confronted with hesitant clients, have you developed techniques to ‘get them off the fence’, as opposed to waiting, following-up, or being passive?”

The 10th and 11th steps are about assessing the need of employing individuals to whom support tasks can be delegated, and ensuring the business has enough financial reserves to withstand six months of downtime.

Of the 12th step, Mr Billingham said advisers should offer a comprehensive justification of their charges to clients other that stating that it is warranted because of their experience in the field.

The final two steps require advisers to be challenged and inspired by reputable colleagues, and conduct monthly reviews on their own management – just as it would be at board-level in a large company – to ensure their actions do not represent a barrier to business growth.

Mr Billingham said: “If you can tick most of the above (10 plus), then you may wish to challenge yourself a bit more. Why delay resolution of the remaining issues?

“Every year is precious, and there is a huge difference between scoring 10 and scoring 14. In short, life at 14 is a lot easier than at 8.”

Adviser view

Ricky Chan, director and IFA at London-based IFS Wealth and Pensions, said: "We always speak with other financial advisory practices to see how they have managed business growth. We then seek to implement these best practices into our business.”