Many advisory firm owners and their senior advisors spend much of their working hours today communicating with clients, discussing the ever-changing financial environment and helping them make good decisions.
But operations staff who work behind the scenes, and now from home, are in a slightly different situation. In most cases, operations employees can perform their regular duties and responsibilities from home.
Thus, the current pandemic procedures and environment have helped them, and their leaders, understand where systems were broken. And now many firms are fixing and updating those systems.
While we encourage our client firms to review operational processes and procedures regularly, we caution that these mechanisms can create unnecessary complications to their service model and client experience that greatly reduce benefits to their business.
In short, what most firm owners and their staff can get wrong is thinking that the enhancement of their processes and procedures means “documenting” them, which it doesn’t.
In fact, the improvement of processes and procedures entails taking a hard look at all of a firm’s existing operations — from on-boarding new clients to delivering financial advice to existing clients — and everything in between.
Next, staff need to make recommendations about how to enhance these processes and procedures.
When it comes to operations, it’s not a matter of right or wrong. It’s a matter of better and best. In other words, how can you start from where you are and make it far better than before?
Here are the three steps that we recommend firms take to get started in the improvement of their operations:
1. Don’t start with what to eliminate.
Begin reviewing your processes and procedures by making a list of all that’s currently in place.
You may have pre-existing ideas about your business and its current operation. But we find that it’s usually more eye-opening to look at the big picture, which should reveal some notable surprises.