Businesses are the business opportunity that most advisers just seem to walk past. Most just don’t seem to do business with businesses…and that is a massive opportunity area.
The typical small business is usually doing one of two things: growing, or going ... and either is a fabulous opportunity for advisers.
Regardless of which research or news articles you read there is a constant theme: Small Business Owners have some real issues, and clearly a significant proportion of SME owners need help. Something like a third to a half of these SME’s are not producing a decent income for the owners. If so many small business owners are struggling to make a decent living, and perhaps a third of those businesses are effectively at the point where they should be making hard decisions about whether to stay in business or not, then there is a significant opportunity for professional advisers to make a massive difference in clients lives.
How valuable would it be for these small business owners to get great advice in managing cash-flow better? Or identifying and managing risks adequately? Or handling tax planning effectively?
Generally only about 25% of small business owners are making a good living.
Financial advisers usually concentrate on helping individuals or families manage all of these issues, and generally do it well when they are covering the full financial planning spectrum for their clients. Those same advisers are also usually business owners themselves dealing with the very issues that undermine other business owners ability to generate the incomes and opportunity they seek from self-employment. The combination of practical business management experience, technical expertise in financial planning and risk management, and superb coaching or facilitation skills provides the astute financial adviser with an exceptional ability to assist business owners.
But most advisers don’t try to.
Of all the advisers that I know personally I can count on my hands the number who have realised that this opportunity exists, and are actively pursuing it. Just a few that I know actually offer a business planning and mentoring service….and they do quite well at it, and quite well from it.
This involves the adviser meeting with the clients monthly just to work on their business management skills and knowledge, and to provide accountability. In many respects this could be viewed as a “consultancy” role, or perhaps an “advisory board” role, although the unique aspect is that this adviser is helping the client achieve their life goals through good financial planning as well as assisting the business to achieve its potential. The comination of technical knowledge transfer, plus behavioural coaching, plus emotional support is invaluable to their business owner clients. The client businesses generally then perform better and present better income and equity growth for their owners.
A real world example from one adviser: The adviser handles about 6-8 business clients per year in this business advisory function, with the clients typically paying about $1,500 per month for the ongoing mentoring and advice. That generates about another $120-140,000 in fee income for the adviser each year on top of the usual planning/advisory work they provide to personal clients.
The business opportunity for financial advisers is utilising ALL of the commercial skills that you possess to deliver practical advice in areas beyond personal financial management. Of course you do need to be a good business person yourself, and have the coaching skills and the technical competency to realise this opportunity, but you also have to talk to clients about the ability to deliver value in this area too.
Unless you tell them that you can assist their business to be healthier, they just won’t know will they? So the under-utilised opportunity is to be a business mentor to the business clients, and all it takes to get started down that path is to have conversations with business clients as a fellow business owner. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise of the things outside of “personal” financial management and you can open up some challenging, motivating and thoroughly rewarding opportunities.
Related: What Are We Really “Selling” in Professional Services?