2020 hasn’t been a great year for feel-good stories. But one of the few positives to come out of the COVID-19 crisis has been the roll-up-your-sleeves attitude of small businesses. Buoyed by an increased sense of community spirit, shops, restaurants and offices have all learnt to thrive in the face of adversity… with many coming out the other side stronger.
What’s interesting, is that while global institutions have stuttered and stumbled their way through the pandemic, these smaller businesses have shown the world how it’s done – by learning to change, adapt and enter new markets. It’s been a real eye-opener for anyone looking to future-proof their business and if you need some inspiration, here are five tips that are tailor-made for advisers.
1. DON'T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET
Being a product specialist is a great way to attract new clients. But as we know, situations can change very quickly… and often leave you needing a back-up plan.
It’s something that many mortgage advisers discovered to their cost during lockdown. As the property market ground to a halt, they had little option but to furlough or find other sources of income.
Those with a wider portfolio fared much better. Products with annual renewal commission – such as GI – turned out to be particularly useful, as they helped to ensure a regular income. Plus they gave advisers a reason to stay in touch with clients and explore new avenues.
2. LOOK AFTER YOUR EXISTING CLIENTS
Without an existing client base, many local businesses would have had to stop trading during the pandemic. Fortunately, with the help of loyal customers and repeat orders, the transition to online stores, home deliveries and virtual advice has proved relatively stress-free.
It would have been a very different story if they had been forced to start from scratch. Finding new clients isn’t easy at the best of times, but when you’re faced with immediate closure and no face-to-face contact, it’s almost impossible.
The simple message for advisers, is that it makes sense to stay in regular contact with clients – by offering new services, cross-selling products and taking a holistic approach to advice. Aside from the additional income, it’s a great way to strengthen relationships and provides more traction when times are tough.
3. LEARN TO DIVERSIFY
One of the highlights of lockdown has been the number of creative solutions that have helped companies avoid the need for personal contact. We’ve seen restaurants offering online cookery classes, taxi firms delivering medication supplies and even zoos live-streaming their animals.
While the majority of changes were introduced as temporary measures to accommodate social-distancing, many have become permanent fixtures. They have also served as a useful reminder on how lateral thinking can help businesses stay relevant, up-to-date and fully engaged with customers.
Of course, for financial advisers, diversification is much easier. With a ready-made client-base, it’s just a case of selling new products, entering new markets and having an open mind. All the training you need is generally available from providers… and for the most part, it won’t cost a penny.
4. HELP CLIENTS LEARN NEW HABITS
When the shops, cafés and bars closed their doors back in March, a lot of people were pleasantly surprised by how much they saved on their everyday purchases. As a nation, it seems we’re not the best at keeping track of what we spend on snacks, coffees and take-aways.
Ironically, when they became aware that they were wasting money, many people chose to change their habits. For example, instead of buying a coffee on their way to work, they would make one at home and take it with them.
Insurance poses a similar problem. Consumers often waste money on products that leave them underinsured and out of pocket. And the only way they’re going to change is if someone points out where they’re going wrong… which is why financial advisers have such an important role to play.
5. EMBRACE MODERN TECHNOLOGY
The one saving grace of COVID-19 has been its timing. Without online shopping, video conferencing and social media, the world would have come to a complete standstill. Fortunately, technology has provided a much-needed lifeline for individuals, families and businesses throughout the world.
While online transactions and virtual meetings are nothing new for large corporates, many smaller companies have been forced into the digital age without any warning. Most of them didn’t know what to expect at first, but now that they’ve got to grips with platforms like Zoom, Twitter and Facebook, they’re wondering how they ever managed without them.
It’s the same for financial advisers. Face-to-face meetings have always been the preferred way of doing things, but online tools are now making the virtual world much more appealing. Firms are starting to realise that technology can save them a great deal of time, effort and money – especially when it comes to sourcing the right products, getting accurate quotes and staying in touch with their clients.
Your TBDM is on hand to discuss future-proofing your business through general insurance.
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