‘Sudden’ success is a 10-year slog

Small investments of time and energy, day in, day out, are vital to the success of your business model

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Jan 02, 2020

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

Thus opined Benjamin Franklin while brainstorming with a hazelnut praline and cream Frostino; Ben’s preferred method of self- and social improvement.

Most things don’t happen as quickly as we’d like or expect. They take time. Even the things that seem sudden are more often the manifestation of the small stuff that has been developing, unseen, over a significant time horizon.

Many commentators feared that the introduction of the RDR at the start of 2013 would have an Armageddon-like impact on the sector. And, while the subsequent years have certainly been eventful, to say the least, for many advisers (if not providers) it was more ‘business as usual’ than expected.

The media writes about ‘suddenly’; we notice ‘now’; we talk about ‘out of nowhere’. So it’s easy to make the mistake of focusing on the ‘suddenly’ part and forgetting the gradual: the small investments of time and energy, day in, day out; also known as ‘the grind’.

Without it, however, everyday opportunities are missed and little bits of value are lost. We don’t notice so much until, apparently quite suddenly, our business model isn’t delivering what it used to.

As US entrepreneur Seth Godin blogged recently: “It didn’t happen suddenly; you just noticed it suddenly.”

The same thing goes for success. Trust is earned, value is delivered and lessons are learned. Day by day we improve and build an asset without necessarily seeing the payoff.

Until one day, quite suddenly, we become a 10-year overnight success. But we can’t control when that day may happen – only how we choose to spend our time every day previously.

Six years on from the RDR and there is still little certainty around how the industry will shape up in 2020 and beyond. Platforms, providers and advisers alike have had their heads down, doing what’s necessary to be compliant and cracking on with business as usual – as far as that is possible in such an unusual world. Which is a good starting point, but it should be just that. The start.

Satisfying the regulator and doing the basics is not the same as satisfying the market, and survival to date will in no way guarantee success in the future. The only thing that will is how you choose to spend your time. The talent is in your choices.

Phil Wickenden is an independent consultant

You can follow him on Twitter @PhilWickenden

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