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Here come the roaring 20s By David Smith on Mar 5, 2021

Art deco

Hey there aspiring flappers. Get out those pearl necklaces, put on those drop-waist dresses and go find that Art Deco architect for the roaring 20s may be coming again.

With governments throwing money around like confetti and pandemic savings rates very very high, as those trips to Aspen have been reduced to costless Zoom calls, you can almost feel the pent up demand that continues to grow. The question is – are you ready for it?

There seems to be a rise in business activity with more M&A activity, more investment occurring in many industries. Sure some sectors are still feeling the pain – tourism for one but they will have their day once the vaccine penetration increases and the operators use tools to make travel safe again.

Money has to go somewhere. Businesses will invest in their business. Businesses looking for growth will use cheap finance to acquire operators. Households will start to relax the purse strings. Add into the mix the largest generational transfer of wealth in history as the baby boomers meet their maker. It makes your head swim.

To support all of this activity, businesses and individuals will need advice. Lots of advice. Are you ready for it?

Do you have the right people?

Sure compliance will continue to be an underpinning service in most firms, but to capitalise on the opportunity, people are needed who can have quality conversations with clients, who can identify issues and opportunities to help and have the business nous and experience to safely guide clients in dealing with the issues. There’s no better teacher than experience. Perhaps holding on to some of your older people might be a good idea or employing semi retired executives could be the go. Ensuring your young team members are in the client meetings to observe, learn and participate is critical.

Do you have enough capacity?

Regular readers will know that we have long advocated that firms need to have higher excess capacity. I would like to see firms target an excess capacity figure between 15%-20%. I appreciate, for some, that may make the sphincter twitch, however, that’s a good thing. What we want to see happen is for senior people to get better at delegation so that much of that free capacity emerges for the firm leaders. What would they do with the extra time? I would want to see them meeting their client more, having quality “Needs Review” discussions which will unlock opportunities and add significant value for clients. I’d want to see them building their personal networks, meeting people, building their referral network.

A few years ago I met the leader of a prominent high growth firm. The firm’s free capacity target is 20%. The leaders saw that it was their job to fill it. They did it every year. That’s the mindset that needs to be developed.

Do you have a killer marketing strategy?

Does your website engage and excite? Are you using video to communicate? Are you creating regular content (written in your own personal style) to show your expertise, your thinking? Are you plastering that content on the virtual telegraph pole that is social media? Are you seeking speaking gigs? Are you doing regular webinars? Perhaps you need our 17 marketing things you should do before hiring a marketing consultant. Send me an email and I’ll send it to you.

Do you have a process to effectively engage with your clients?

In the heat of the battle to meet the next compliance deadline we sometimes forget the importance of a quality conversation. Do you ensure you always make time to sit down and have a quality conversation with your client about what is going on in their business and their lives? Are you listening not talking – asking your client open-ended questions to get them talking? When the meeting is over do you sit back with your team and contemplate what it means – what clients really need and how you can help, leading to the development of a quality proposal. There is gold here for your clients and your firm as you help them address the issues.

As we emerge from the pandemic your firm needs a plan. The roaring 20s are coming. Are you ready? Do you have a plan?

I’m sure some of you are thinking – but what about 1929. Yes, well perhaps that’s a discussion for another blog. One can never predict the black swan. Who 12 months ago would have thought that a word such as COVID would be on everyone’s lips!

Let’s say I’m wrong about the roaring 20s. That doesn’t change much in terms of strategy. You still need one. You still need star performers, capacity, a great marketing strategy and quality client engagement. These things pay dividends in any environment.

So, it’s time to capitalise on the opportunity. Interesting and profitable work awaits with clients delighted that their issues are being proactively addressed.

Time to crank up your strategic planning.

David Smith conducts strategic planning workshops for firms to help set a path for the future direction of the firm to unlock the opportunities and confront the risks. If you’d like to discuss your firm’s strategic plan contact him at [email protected].


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