But not every adviser wants their career defined that way.
Not every consumer wants bland and safe.
The most interesting, challenging, demanding, lucrative and valuable clients an advice firm could have do not gravitate to this model.
To begin figuring out how to innovate in delivering financial advice as a commercial service we do have to ask the basic question:
“Why does it have to be this way?”
There are often reasons – such as regulations – that prescribe a certain thing must happen in a certain way. For instance; we have a rule which says advice must be delivered in writing, so delivering advice in a written format is “must”.
But to innovate we need to move beyond what is a “must” and figure out
“How would it work ideally?”
We might then come up with an answer such as “for our target market clients advice needs to be captured basically as a podcast“. Delivering advice digitally, and orally, yet still in a recorded format which can be provided as evidence of suitability later might be the answer that most aligns the consumers expectation with our competency and todays technology and communications methods.
In order to be “compliant” we might then back that up with a written transcript which is delivered electronically to the client – knowing and expecting that nobody but an auditor or regulator is ever going to look at that written transcript in time to come.
The first is about focussing upon the end-user – the client. What is it they want? How do they want things to work? What do they value? What wows them? What are their expectations? Basically…..what do they desire?
The second is more technical, or pragmatic, in focus. What is physically possible? Does the technology exist, or how can it be used? How could we use knowledge or technology if we were not restricted in how we married them up? How could we do faster, better, leaner, more personalised, more fun, more useful, more timely….more anything….what is actually feasible in todays world with what we know and what we have or can access?
The final question is the limiting one: can the fabulous concepts be done profitably? You might have a great and empowering idea that would attract every billionaire on the planet as a client of your firm…such as they get Warren Buffett personally managing their money and talking to them personally each week. But can you afford him? And still make a dollar for your own stakeholders? Or maybe you should just hologram yourself into a meeting virtually…..or hey! maybe we should hologram Warren Buffett in?
…but if that technology cost $3,000,000 to implement and the turnover of your firm is $500,000 per year, then maybe it is not a good innovation after all….or maybe it is a good innovation but the cost of the technology is just too steep right now. It is perhaps an idea for the future….
When re-thinking how your business could work, or how it could deliver the type of value that your ideal target market clients want, don’t let the final question regarding profitability stifle you. Good ideas can be good ideas whose time simply has not come yet – but don’t lose the good idea. The profitability question really serves as a checkpoint on which ideas to run with now.
To achieve breakthroughs in how a practice works, or perhaps redefine how an entire industry works, requires that we challenge all the basic assumptions to begin with. It is that challenging of the status quo, asking “why does it have to be this way”, which leads us into innovative thinking and potentially seeing the business future an entirely different way.