Benefit of more support staff outweigh costs

The benefit of bringing on more back-office staff has far outweighed the costs and allows financial advisers to bring in more business and increase client meetings, according to an adviser.

HH Wealth director and financial adviser, Chris Holme, said he recently brought in more back-office staff as he hit capacity and could not bring on any more clients.

Currently, he was the sole adviser and had a full-time customer service officer (CSO), a part-time intern, and an outsourced paraplanner. Holme said would be bringing on another adviser and looked to have a full-time paraplanner and another CSO.

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“I want to be able to focus more on bringing on new clients and I kind of waited a bit to hire more staff because of the cost. But the actual benefits far outweigh the costs and we've been able to bring on more business because of it,” he said.

“The support I needed were for ad hoc tasks, making sure everything was loaded up on a file, on Xplan, and onto the compliance software, as well as all the other administrative tasks that take a while.”

Holme said he initially tried to use a virtual assistance (VA) support software as it was a lower cost option but found there was a language barrier given the complexity of the tasks.

“It just made more sense for us to bring on a couple of full-time staff to be able to do that. They can sit here in the office or they can work from home and there’s no kind of language barrier. The knowledge is higher and so the tasks just get completed a bit quicker and things are more efficient,” he said.

“I think a lot of people are using VA and it's actually worked really well. But we've just had a lot more wins with actual with staff employed directly in the business.”

Holme said client meetings took around 40% of his work and that he wanted to move that up to 80% and would need more support staff to get there.

“I need them to make sure that all administrative tasks are taken care of and that all I'm doing is client facing, file noting, and strategy – which are obviously the best bits of advice,” he said.

When asked whether servicing 200 to 300 clients with the right tech stack was doable, Holme said he would question the quality of advice if a single adviser could service that number of clients.

“That sounds that sounds quite like that there would be a fair amount of robo-advice and so I would suggest that the fee would be pretty low per client,” he said.

“I'd be questioning what sort of service they're offering to be able to make it profitable because I daresay you won't be doing much client facing if you've got 300 clients.”

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If you assume 45 working weeks pa (7 weeks for annual leave and CPD) and one appt in the AM, one appt in the PM (not hard to do) with cleint phone call and email returns in between that is 10 per week or 450 appts pa. Surely 200 clients is manageable to have an annual review and perhaps a mid year.

Good luck with the growing pains Mr Holme. Expect to make a loss on the new adviser for years, and to have to increase fees to cover the additional resources. We have 1 person almost full-time on EFDS production and compliance. The client has to pay for the ridiculous level of compliance required these days - growing your business comes at a massive cost. Stay small or expect a big drop in profit as a percentage as you grow.

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