Challenges for the modern practice

No matter how big your practice grows, some things will stay the same. That's what we found when we asked your peers about the biggest challenges facing modern financial advice practices.

Whether it's because your business is growing or the need for extra regulatory compliance – time management is one area where advisers wish they could improve.

'Staying consistently on track to achieve goals without getting distracted is a universal ongoing challenge,' says Sharon Pacey from PWA Financial Services.

With that in mind here are some tips to get more from your day.

  1. Don't start your day by checking emails. Instead spend the first 20 or 30 minutes writing down a plan for how you want your day to go. What will make it a successful day? Add these to your to-do list and prioritise.

    Lists just aren't for you either. Have you ever gone into a meeting with a client only to find the client has forgotten to bring something important? Keep a to-do list for your clients in their file too. Before each meeting send it to the client to make the most of your meeting time.   

  2. Close unnecessary applications. Studies have shown that each email takes around 2 minutes of your day. That's just the time taken to get back to the task you were doing – even if you don't do anything with the email. Instead try allocating a portion of your time to checking email. Maybe 20 minute blocks – three times a day. If you can't turn off your email, try turning off distracting email notification pop-ups.   

  3. Segment your day. One method to do this is the Pomodoro technique – Break your day into 25 minute blocks – a pomodoro (Italian for tomato) – and remember it can't be shortened. Even use a timer to stick to your times. At the end of each pomodoro, take a five minute break. After four pomodoros take a longer break.   

  4. Delegate where you can – when you've got great staff, make sure you are getting the most from them.

And speaking of staff, another recurring theme was the importance of great staff – something you particularly notice when they leave.

"It's very easy for staff to leave and once they do – it often leaves a huge hole in the operations and then a long time to recruit and train again," Mark Defranciscis from Infocus wealth management said.

And with an Oxford Economics reportsuggesting replacing a staff member costs nearly $60,000, it's little wonder Apple's Steve Jobs said interviewing was one of the most important jobs for a CEO – and he backed up his words with actions, reportedly doing over 5,000 interviews.

Just as your prospective employees will be practising answers out the front of your offices, you should also prepare for interviews – after all your questions can be as important as their answers.

Behavioural-based interview techniques provide insights into the candidate's values, such as past behaviours and learnings from jobs. This is a way to learn the candidate's strengths and weaknesses more effectively than asking 'what are your strengths?' or 'where do you see yourself in five years'?

After all, unlike investments, past performance is a reliable indicator of future performance.

Some behavioural based interview questions:

  1. What did you learn from your first job that still influences you today?
  2. What's an example of a difficult problem you helped solve for a client?
  3. What's a time when you took the initiative or lead to get something done?
  4. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a client – how did you react?


The information contained in this newsletter is provided on behalf of the IOOF group of companies and is intended for financial adviser use only. It is given in good faith and has been prepared based on information that is believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publication. Any examples are for illustration purposes only and are based on the continuance of present laws and our interpretation of them at the time.