We have a unique business of serving clients' money needs, solving problems, and being a sounding board in their financial and life decisions. This industry is very people-centric and our biggest asset is our time and experience in interacting with clients.
Further, our business should be either wholly or semi-automated depending on the business model, organization structure, and business size.
Kaizen is a technique for ongoing improvement. One needs to improve existing services, or processes by implementing relatively smaller than significant changes.
If we catch the problem and nip it in the bud, won't it help by not escalating the problem to a white elephant proportion and then becoming a challenge?
It is crucial for us as individuals or a business to measure the work done and activities in the day. That becomes the starting point of creating processes that are unique to your requirements and business model.
Ask questions to understand the problems and challenges people are facing. We started our process manuals templates and logs with that. We tracked the processes of different departments- Operations, Planning, Research, Accounts and asked questions on the methods and the gaps or challenges faced and tried to build checks to streamline the processes. Further, automate as much as possible.
Seek Feedback - We have an internal and external track record of what worked and what did not. Especially, external feedback like client feedback, when implemented, makes them feel something is done about what they thought is important for them.
Holding internal meetings on what went right and wrong over the last 30 days helps to trash out and understand the leakages and fix them! Remember, just like financial plans are of no use if not implemented, problems or gaps will remain so, if not addressed or resolved. They will remain laggards, create boredom, lack of motivation, and reduce employee morale.
Sometimes, our colleagues have given us great feedback to help strengthen the loopholes. A new pair of eyes always lend perspective!
Attend Conferences, and It is refreshing to hear about other organizations' strengths and weaknesses and learn from each other. After all, we are in this together to grow.
Unless we see the problem as a doer; finding a solution would be complex - sometimes, to understand the problem clearly, we need to go through the act ourselves before we can identify what really isn't working. Once it is known, then fix it. Else, the situation will remain a nagging issue for a long time and begin to manifest in different ways and impact the performance and running of other parts.
Some of the systems we have put in place in our organization:
Process manuals for various departments: Every department has process manuals, and there are process manuals for each function. This is continuously modified should there be an upcoming issue faced by clients. A continuous improvement of the process is constantly discussed in the department. At many times, technology is the solution.
Service Delivery Schedule for the client: This is required for value addition and helps to manage client Expectations - if one can provide a service delivery schedule detailing the service provided to clients at a consistent frequency and ensure delivery of the same happens, there is some consistency, clarity, and positive outcome from the client.
Client segmentation and client profiling: Understanding the qualitative and quantitative factors about your client, helps devise a service plan that meets that segment. Some qualitative factors include ability, potential to refer, future business potential, and whether the client is in our target segment or not. Some quantitative aspects refer to AUM, revenue per client, cost incurred, or time spent on revenue earned. This classification helps in providing the proper engagement with the client.
Communication Channels: Ensure all communication channels with the clients are open, especially when things don't go well or markets are volatile. They will remember that you were there for them when things didn't go well.
Service Offerings: Upgrade. You would like to be a one-stop-shop for your clients. For this, one needs to continually upgrade the service and product offerings and have partnerships with outside people to help meet the client requirements. Example, consultants for taxation, estate planning, and legal.
Implementation, guidance and follow up: Just providing a blueprint for one's goals or portfolio without implementation is of no use. One needs to implement the same for it to be meaningful. For this, a time to execute pending actions needs to be set aside to discuss with the client.
Talk about things outside the portfolio with the client: it’s not always about alpha, standard deviation, and Sharpe; we need to understand what is really bothering our clients.
If you have a team; then, create and entrust responsibility. We need to delegate as much as possible. Have responsibility centers and review improvise, and move forward.
"The most important room in the world is the room for improvement."- Helmut Schmidt
This article was first published in IFA Galaxy's Souvenir 2022; reproduced here with the permission of the author.
About the Author: Ms. Dilshad Billimoria, CFP, is Founder, MD & Chief Financial Planner at M/s Dilzer Consultant Pvt Ltd. She has over 20+ years of experience in the financial advisory domain.