Establishing a micro-network of like-minded advisers is a useful way to share ideas and overcome challenges. The NMBA's Lee Travis examines the concept in more detail
Interdependence is such a good reciprocal relationship, both conceptually and practically, that a lot can be said for peer groups within our profession getting involved. It doesn't happen as much as it probably should but taking part in regular meetings with a group of like-minded business people, all focused on supporting each other, can be extraordinarily beneficial.
I am talking about micro-networks of proactive financial advisers, who choose to make time to come together and discuss both the challenges they are facing and solutions they have found, with a view to aiding others. In what can sometimes be called a fragmented profession, the fact there are 'best practice clubs' in existence to help one another continually progress is encouraging for the future of our sector.
I recently attended a Million Dollar Round Table event in London and the main point that struck me about the speakers was not that they had thriving businesses but that they were more than willing to share their success stories and ideas about how everyone else could accomplish the same. They all demonstrated a very secure mentality that if you give, you get back in return. This karma-based belief is a good foundation to build your business relationships upon.
Fortunately, in my experience, advisers tend to accept that they do not overtly compete with each other and the majority seem naturally inclined to want to assist others. As a result, micro-networking is an excellent investment in your time – supporting you as you continuously progress, enabling you to pick up some really good ideas and maybe simply reaffirming that what you have been doing so far is on the right track. There is real value in that.
Here is a (non-exhaustive) shortlist of the benefits of ‘best practice clubs':
1. The multiplier effect: Come in with one idea, walk out with several. If everyone brings a suggestion to share around the table, everyone will walk away with something that will help them and their clients.
2. Bringing like-minded people together: In what can be an isolated profession, it is important for advisers to be given the chance to interact and find out what others are experiencing.
3. Opportunities to network: Swap business cards, find out more about what people do and look for opportunities to reciprocate and share contacts.
4. Time to work on your business, not in it: We all work in our businesses but it is important, as professionals, to take time aside on a regular basis to work on our businesses. Having a look at where you are in relation to your peers and how to support each other as you move forward is a huge benefit.
5. Put challenges on the table: There will be a wealth of experience around the table. Chances are someone will have overcome a particular dilemma you might be facing, so this is the perfect opportunity to learn from each other and discuss the various ways in which to surmount the challenges.
6. Take advantage of economies of scale: As a smaller practice, it may be unfeasible for you to have access to consultants for advice on how to develop your firm. As a group, however, your collective buying power can allow you to secure these opportunities and receive consultancy from someone who can view things from a wider angle.
7. Contributes towards CPD: Hopefully not a key driver to attend; however, we have a minimum number of hours to fill and these meetings can help you to meet CPD requirements.
8. Find answers to questions you have: There are not many seminars we can attend where we influence the content. However, at these events, discussion will always open up to the floor to let you ask the questions important to you. Moreover, provided they are chaired by an appropriate host, these are not simply meetings which descend into a rant but should be a ‘zero-negativity' space in which the content of the discussion remains upbeat and positive.
9. Raise your game and have a fitter business: After a period of time in attending these meetings and implementing what you have learned, you will enjoy seeing a better shape to your business.
The key to best practice meetings working is that members contribute and are prepared to bring something with them to share. Unfortunately, most people go to seminars and do little with the ideas they get. The route to success is in your follow-up actions – ensuring you make the most of what you have learned and prepare you for what may lie ahead. We can achieve so much more as a collective than individually.
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