The professional financial services sector has undergone radical change over the past decade. Globally, many professionals have left the industry rather than have to adapt to widespread reforms.
In the UK, those who remained quickly realised that the post-RDR market was very different from that which had existed before. This will be the case in other countries, such as Australia, where similar regulations have been applied.
While clients’ basic needs remain largely unchanged, their behaviours, values and desires for the future have evolved. This has led to a greater demand for higher levels of professional service and one-to-one attention, thereby causing the working practices of financial planning and advisory organisations to change.
Optimal operating team
During my 22 years of coaching it has become very clear what the optimal operating team model looks like in a ‘futureproofed’ professional firm. Although the sector generally believes that the world revolves around financial planners and advisers, we have established that there are around 26 key, individual roles within a professional financial services organisation.
According to the Best Practice Team Structure below, each one plays an essential part in supporting and securing a successful future for the organisation and its clients.
I believe we will continue to see major shifts in team and support infrastructures as firms realise the importance of having strategically designed roles and responsibilities as well as clearly defined training and development programmes.
The standardisation of roles adopted by an organisation and embraced by the key people within it will have a direct impact on its level of success. It will create greater value for all parties and therefore differentiate the organisation from others in the sector.
When my organisation, Standards International, drafted The Paraplanner Standard, along with an industry committee, a key focus was to define a set of essential attributes that we believed to be the ‘hit list’ of every paraplanner and, in fact, of every supportive role in the firm.
The process of designing an international standard like The Paraplanner Standard provides the perfect opportunity for the global profession to define, establish and benefit from the key supportive roles whose valuable contribution extends to both internal and external relationships.
In many professional firms there is an absence of these essential attributes, which we believe require staff to be:
- Alert: The role holder must demonstrate a keen interest in the role itself and in the financial services sector as a whole, remaining alert to the needs of the client and the organisation at all times.
- Curious: The role holder must demonstrate a continued desire to expand their knowledge and understanding of the client’s needs and requirements, as well as of the financial services sector as a whole.
- Responsive: The role holder must remain responsive to and supportive of the client’s needs and requirements at all times, while having the authority and autonomy to confidently put forward their own ideas and opinions.
- Resourceful: The role holder must strive to work as efficiently and effectively as possible at all times while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and levels of confidentiality.
When these attributes are present, everyone will be able to add as well as gain value for the firm and the team within which they work.
The question is: if these attributes are so key to the success of a firm, why do planners, business owners and those in management roles still continue to accept mediocre performance and sub-standard contributions from team members?
A lack of technical knowledge will not kill our magical profession – but a compromise of standards will.
Michelle Hoskin is founder and director of Standards International