Why advice firms need leadership programs

financial advice leadership financial advisers

15 August 2023
| By Jasmine Siljic |
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As financial advice firms grapple with adviser retention and larger workloads, this coaching firm founder believes leadership programs are key for emerging leaders.

Human to Human is a financial advice business coaching and consultancy firm, founded by business coach Michael Back.

The launch of their new ‘Realise’ 12-week coaching program transpired from a gap in the market – advice firms experiencing great periods of growth without the managerial skills to sustain it.

“Financial services businesses are busier than ever and costs are spiralling, which means it has never been more important to empower people in a financial services team to lead change and spend time working on improving the business,” Back told Money Management. 

As firms rapidly expand to meet the demands of Australians seeking advice, more internal resourcing and clearer structures are necessary to avoid growing pains in the business.

“I have often seen people get promoted to leadership roles who are full of ambition and potential, but they are quickly demoralised when they realise that they are underprepared for their role, causing them to feel out of their depth, which further limits their impact on a business,” he explained. 

A key contributor to this was remote working during pandemic lockdowns. Where previously new managers could shadow a chief executive and mirror their actions by working alongside them, work-from-home models prevented this type of learning. 

“The financial advice industry has never been as busy as they are right now. That’s just looking after existing clients, let alone new ones,” Back observed.

Senior advisers trying to mentor a middle manager may have little to no time to do so, causing a leadership void. 

While these employees would eventually learn to manage their new workload, the business coach believes programs like Realise are a more effective and efficient way of training new managers. 

Back continued: “Outsourcing and technology are taking care of a lot of traditional ‘hard skills’, so people need to focus on mastering ‘soft skills’ in their careers such as change management, client experience and creating better working environments.”

Human to Human’s 12-week program supports new leaders through webinar-based training, which includes fortnightly online workshops, Q&A sessions and private coaching. 

Additionally, six modules are offered covering three main areas that up-and-coming managers struggle with: confidence, time management and momentum.

For advisers, time is not necessarily the largest barrier to greater leadership growth. 

“Time is definitely a challenge, but people often use time as an excuse for why they’re not making more of an impact. The real issue is their confidence.” 

A major success signal of the program is uplifting the confidence levels of middle managers in advice firms, particularly in owning both their strengths and weaknesses. 

“For time and space, the outcome is being in control of how you spend your day. This includes having a good balance of not just working in the business but also working on the business,” the founder said.

“Not just focusing on the short term, urgent priorities which will always be there, but also keeping an eye on the things that are going to define who the business is in the future.”

As innovative technologies and artificial intelligence cause advice firms to further evolve, successful change management is another significant outcome of the program.  

“The future is unclear and adapting to change is necessary. This requires a pool of ideas from internal leaders as to how the business should adapt, as well as dedicated people who can drive positive internal change.”

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