by Tony Vidler
The typical small business is only doing one of two things: growing, or going….
…and THERE is a fabulous opportunity for today’s professional adviser.
Regardless of which research you read there is a constant theme: Small Business Owners have some real issues, and clearly a significant proportion of SME owners need help. Something like a third to a half of these SME’s do not produce a decent income for the owners in any given year. If so many small business owners are struggling to make a decent living, and perhaps a third of those businesses are effectively at the point where they should be making hard decisions about whether to stay in business or not, then there is a significant opportunity for professional advisers to make a significant difference in clients lives.
How valuable would it be for these small business owners to get great advice in managing cash-flow better? Or identifying and managing risks adequately? Or handling tax planning effectively?
Generally only about 25% of small business owners are making a good living.
Financial advisers usually concentrate on helping individuals or families manage all of these issues, and generally do it well when they are covering the full financial planning spectrum for their clients. Those same advisers are also business owners themselves dealing with the very issues that undermine other business owners ability to generate the incomes and opportunity they seek from self-employment. The combination of practical business management experience, technical expertise in financial planning, and superb coaching or facilitation skills provides the astute financial adviser with an exceptional ability to assist business owners.
But most advisers don’t try to.
Of all the advisers that I know personally I can count on one hand the number who have realised that this opportunity exists, and are pursuing it. The best example is one well qualified planner who does all of the things that every other financial planner does for individual clients, but in addition to that offers a business planning and mentoring service.
This involves the planner meeting with the clients monthly just to work on their business management skills and knowledge, and to provide accountability. In many respects this could be viewed as a “consultancy” role, or perhaps an “advisory board” role, although the unique aspect is that this adviser is helping the client achieve their life goals through good financial planning as well as assisting the business to achieve its potential. It is no bad thing that as the business does better and presents better income and equity growth as a personal client for the planner himself client.
He handles about 6-8 business clients per year in this business advisory function, with the clients typically paying about $1,500 per month for the ongoing mentoring and advice. That generates about another $120-140,000 in fee income for the planner each year on top of the usual financial planning work for personal clients. That is also another half dozen extremely loyal clients created each year who have better businesses, more money and less stress.
That is a win for everyone involved.
The business opportunity for financial advisers is utilising ALL of the commercial skills that you possess. Of course you do need to be a good business person yourself, and have the coaching skills and the technical competency to realise this opportunity, but you also have to talk to clients about the ability to deliver value in this area too. Unless you tell them that you can assist their business to be healthier, they just won’t know will they?