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Forward Thinking Magazine : August 2010
28 Macquarie Adviser Services When it comes to succession planning, only four per cent are now planning to sell to another practice. By contrast, 42 per cent have entered into a buy/sell arrangement, and 42 per cent have also entered into equity arrangements with staff. “Many advisers have developed their practice over time to a point where they have built something they can really be proud of. But a common mistake advisers make as they near retirement is a lack of vision for the next phase of the firm,” says McCarthy. “If you’re at the two million dollar revenue mark, it is important to recognise the business needs a dedicated resource to manage it. One of the business’s owners usually has to make a choice between remaining as an adviser and stepping away from providing advice to take on day-to-day managerial responsibility for the practice. If that’s not what the owners want then it may be time to think about hiring an external CEO,” she says. One firm that has made a quantum shift in the way it approaches human resources in its practice is The Announcer Group, truly a one-stop financial services shop. Aside from its financial planning practice, The Announcer Group also comprises an accounting practice, a law firm, a mortgage broking business, as well as a property arm. Director Andrew Rocks has been working with Macquarie Practice Consulting to develop a corporatised structure for the business, to help provide a platform to take the practice from 30 to 120 people. “During the past year we’ve set up a board of directors and appointed heads of our different businesses. I’m also now in the managing director role and I spend time each week in each of the different businesses,” explains Rocks, who has stepped away from client-facing work to be more involved in acquisitions and work such as senior staff promotions. “During this time we’ve re-written all staff members’ contracts, and organised the business around core competencies. We’ve also multiskilled support staff, which has really helped with staff retention because they now have such a varied role. Another innovation has been defined reporting lines in the business. And now, everyone in the business is working toward a common goal – our company’s mission to be a leading, full service financial planning firm.” According to Rocks, as a result of the business’s new HR strategy there has been a massive increase in productivity. “We have been ruthless with cost reduction as part of the shift toward a fee-for-service model and we’re really leveraging technology to make sure every aspect of the business is costed.” Rather than having individual advisers owning clients, the firm now takes a client-sharing approach. “We make sure a job is done by the best person for it, so clients are often serviced by 10 different staff or more. And if someone is away their role will be performed by someone else in the practice and the client will be serviced by the next most appropriate person.” Importantly, Rocks says the new approach to HR has “improved the value of our business.” No matter what the size of the business is, every advisory firm needs to have a sound business planning process. The planning process should clearly articulate the vision and mission of the business. It should also formalise the human resources function of the practice so that key performance indicators for the business and for individual staff are set out. We have been ruthless with cost reduction as part of the shift toward a fee-for-service model and we’re really leveraging technology to make sure every aspect of the business is costed. Andrew Rocks, The Announcer Group