Assessing the value of your financial planning firm

An increasing number of financial advisers are considering their options following recent market changes – including enhanced professional standards requirements and amendments to revenue structuring. What’s more, partly in response to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services, there’s been an increase in the number of firms considering independent licensing or looking to independent groups with scale. 

Whenever considering change and especially when considering the relative value of one firm to another, one thing is clear – technology plays a critical role in being able to present your business as an attractive opportunity; one with a value that can be quickly recognised and appreciated.

KEY ASSESSMENT FACTORS

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When assessing the value of financial advice firm, some of the factors a potential partner or acquirer may consider are: 

  • Systematisation Are business processes well documented? Do all employees work in a consistent, measurable way? Are their risks around reliance on key personnel? What technology and tools have you invested in? Are they being used to their full potential?
  • Data Where is your data stored?  Is it easily accessible? Is there a single source of truth? Can you verify the accuracy and authenticity of your data? Do you leverage the data you have?
  • Efficiency How much manual work is involved in your business? Do you measure the way work flows throughout your business to improve productivity? Are you able to clearly segment your client data to ensure you’re spending time on the things that really matter? Do you know what it costs you to deliver advice?
  • Risk management  What controls do you have in place when it comes to protecting your clients? Do you have a proactive approach to scanning your business for risks as well as adhering to legislative and regulatory requirements? How solid is your information security plan? 

These are just a few factors an external party may examine when assessing the value of an advice firm. They’re equally useful in assessing a business’ sustainability and propensity to scale.

What’s clear is that in an increasingly competitive environment, taking the time to develop a sound strategy for managing data, streamlining processes and automating for productivity and risk management will be a competitive advantage at any stage of a business’ maturity.

COMPETING FOR VALUE

External views will have different criteria as to what represents value. But the ability to present a clear picture of your business is critical in attracting the highest possible value.

If there are two firms, both wishing to present themselves as attractive purchase options to an acquirer, equal in all respects other than the quality of data and the underlying technology ecosystem, it’s likely going to be the one that has strategically invested in technology, and able to demonstrate a data-driven insight with business results to show for it, that’s going to be the more attractive proposition. 

If you’re unable to provide evidence around these key factors, you’re probably going to miss out in this competitive environment.

CASTING A BUYER’S EYE

Just as we might suddenly see the flaws in our family home when considering putting it up for sale, it may be daunting to cast a buyer’s eye over your practice and notice the many areas that require improvement. But it needn’t be.

The right technology partner will help you identify which aspects of your business would most benefit from investment in automation, systematisation and data management.

They can also share their expertise of how other advice firms have successfully overhauled their technology foundations and reaped the benefits of a data-driven approach to practice management. 

Tizzy Vigilante is managing director-wealth management, Australia and New Zealand at Iress




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