What are you doing to increase your firm’s profitability? In this final blog of the series addressing the four biggest challenges facing RIAs today (Greg Friedman on Business Development), I’ll discuss the changing advisor landscape of and present five ways you can positively impact your firm’s bottom line.

Whether it’s the rise of the robo-advisor or next gen clients looking to move away from their parents’ financial path, today’s competitive climate for advisors means we’ve had to become leaner and more efficient to stay successful in this business. Profit margins have tightened yet matter more now than ever; with many advisors planning for succession – including via M&As – a firm’s profitability d)irectly impacts overall valuation.

So how can advisors stay competitive and profitable? Here are five things you can do now to help boost your productivity and profitability:

  1. Assess Your People 
    An advisory firm is only as efficient and productive as the people who run it day to day. Are you maximizing roles and responsibilities across staff? Are principals and lead advisors doing administrative work that takes up time they could be spending servicing your top clients?

    Taking stock in your firm’s most precious asset and making sure everyone is making the best use of their time ensures that your firm stays on track.

  2. Gauge Firm Productivity Using Technology 
    At my RIA firm, Private Ocean, we have created an Advisor Dashboard that takes key performance indicators (KPIs) using data in our CRM and compiles them into a report. This data helps us measure employee performance and also identifies areas that may need improvement. 

    Along with your staff assessment, using technology to gauge the firm’s overall productivity can help make decisions that lead to higher profitability.

  3. Streamline Technology Through Integrations
    Is there anything more frustrating than watching your staff type in the same data over and over again into different systems? In the last three to five years, technology companies have spent a lot of time integrating systems to help make our lives easier. Recognizing productivity from this doesn’t come without time, effort and cost, but the long-term benefits are immeasurable.

    To get started, take the time to sit down with your team, take stock in the capabilities that your firm needs, and then create a plan of attack to acquire and integrate the necessary technology. Be careful not to fall prey to the next shiny object. If your firm doesn’t need it, don’t go chasing it.

  4. Focus on Client Service
    One of my firm’s differentiators is its dedication to unrivaled client service. This doesn’t mean we’re wasteful with our time; it means we work smarter and better and make everything appear seamless to our clients. How do we do it? We use our CRM to help plan client appreciation events, check in with clients on their wedding anniversaries and even make sure their favorite candy is on the table at client meetings. No detail is too small that we can’t capture it and share firm-wide.  

    How does this translate to profitability? Simple: client retention. 

    The client experience leads to client loyalty and asset retention, which then lead to long-term profitability and growth.

  5. Switch to a Sales Mindset
    Advisors need to stop thinking of the segregation of sales and service people. They also need to stray from the “one rainmaker” approach to profitability. 

    Yes, there is a high value on top performers and these people should be supported accordingly, but advisors today should consider a new business model that marries sales and service that extends to everyone on the team. Any interaction between your firm and the client can lead to a sales opportunity, regardless of that person’s title.

    In other words, your best salesperson needs to provide outstanding client service, and your best client service person needs to provide outstanding sales support. 

Remember, there is no need to boil the ocean – plan your way to profitability in stages by taking into account each of these factors in your business. The best advice I can give is not to wait or put off to tomorrow what you can start doing today.

Read the complete blog series, Greg Friedman on Business Development.