Building a high-performing advice team

financial advisers elixir consulting Virtual Business Partners practice management culture

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This senior consultant has emphasised why “playing the long game” of cultivating a desirable work culture is vital for high-performing financial advice firms and their teams.

Speaking on a recent Netwealth webinar, Lana Clark, senior consultant at Elixir Consulting owned by Vital Business Partners (VBP), broke down the features of a successful advice business.

In her 25 years’ experience coaching firms with practice management and business development, Clark highlighted work culture as a crucial aspect of a healthy business. However, building culture does not happen overnight.

“Culture is a long game; it’s not developed overnight, and it takes deep work and dedication. It doesn’t get you immediate results. It is also everyone’s responsibility to contribute to the culture, atmosphere, attitudes and mindset of the business,” she described.

Research continues to highlight the non-monetary aspects of employee retention. Last month, a recruitment agency’s survey of over 4,000 financial services professionals discovered that team culture was ranked as the top factor for candidates when searching for a job. This was followed by salary, flexibility, mental wellbeing and job security.

According to Clark, one of the key ways to build a healthy work culture is through recognition. Whether it be buying the team a coffee once a week or saying a quick thank you, recognising hard work is not to be underestimated, she said.

“One of the biggest things I know is that not everyone is motivated or driven by money. While they may be at the moment due to the cost of living, there are a lot of people where that’s not the biggest thing for them. People love to be appreciated and to be heard. All too often, we are not in the position where we’re actually giving people that recognition of doing a good job.”

During the webinar, the senior consultant provided a case study on a firm with 15 advisers and more than 30 support staff.

“When we started, there was a terrible ‘us and them’ culture divide between the advisers and the back-office staff.”

The business had experienced turmoil due to changing licensees and bleeding revenue. After seeking business coaching over a two-year period, the firm made key changes to rectify its team culture.

Consequently, the firm’s overall cultural score grew from 67 per cent in 2021 to 79 per cent in 2022. Additionally, the business reported an 88 per cent jump in profit during 2022, or $637,000, as a result of the implemented changes.

“Over the two years they implemented a new pricing model, acquired a few businesses and implemented a new engagement process. However, none of that could have been done if they didn’t address culture first,” Clark said.

Moreover, the senior consultant compared a high-performance advice team to putting a group of athletes together.

“They’ve all got their unique abilities, but when they are combined, they are this unstoppable force and their mindset is winning.”

These teams are not formed by chance, Clark added. Instead, they are carefully curated and strategically recruited with specific purposes in mind. All high-performing employees have a strong growth mindset and are passionately aligned to the values and vision of the business.

“These teams thrive – not by just meeting expectations but by consistently exceeding them.”

Last week, Elixir Consulting’s parent company VBP launched a new coaching solution to assist financial advisers and business owners looking to grow their practice.

Titled The Growth Alliance, it will help advice leaders and professionals achieve growth and deliver tangible efficiencies to their advice practice.

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