Your financial advice practice needs strong foundations

If you’re a new adviser about to set up your first business, getting the fundamentals right will ensure your best chance at reaching your business goals – and keeping your client promises.

For an adviser setting up their own practice, there are countless decisions that must be made. Many of them can be done as the business evolves, but some of them must be done before a single client is brought on. These are the decisions that will lay the foundations for success.

When financial adviser, PJ Cameron, set up, he was determined to identify the problem he was trying to solve, develop his client experience, and offer ‘more than presenting pie charts’. Cameron designed his ‘Wealth Builder’ program, focusing on young families and people who wanted to build wealth. Then he needed to make the implementation decisions.

Choosing the right licensee

“How you approach your licence is incredibly important,” Cameron says, “And that’s true whether you operate under another entity’s licence or follow the self-licensed route. I decided on Centrepoint Alliance because it’s independent, listed on the ASX, and I wanted to work with a business that was transparent.

“The industry is at an inflection point so I wanted to partner with a licensee that allowed me to be transparent, and to demonstrate value. They also have to have a great compliance regime, and have the scale and resources to be able to support you.”

Evaluating technology

With the licence finalised, Cameron says the next place an adviser must put considerable thought is how to use technology to help them deliver for clients.

“Technology can be a real asset to a new business, and allows for the automation of processes and also reduces the double-handling of documents and information. I’ve built a paperless business, so technology has enabled me to do that. The compliance work for a business has increased significantly in recent years and technology is the way which that work can be managed efficiently.”

Cameron says that cash flow software, planning tools, online meeting software, and even outsourcing compliance work can all be achieved through a comprehensive technology solution.

“Advisers today need to be able to meet clients where they want to meet,” Cameron says. “Online conferencing is one way to do that. Even just being able to meet them at their home or in a café can make all the difference to their experience. It’s important to be able to connect with your client – being able to make eye contact is very important.”

Your work environment

Where to work is another factor that must be chosen carefully. Share-spaces can allow a new practice to trade in an office for reduced costs, but there are pros and cons.

“Not being able to control the environment is one issue; another is the costs associated with booking meeting rooms and other services. It was a great way for me to start but less than a year later, I’ve opened an office in the Sydney CBD.”

In a world where the costs of doing business are increasing – from licensing costs through to the implementation of advice – preparing for a business launch by determining what can help the business through its formative phase will give advisers their best chance at meeting their practice ambitions.