Is it time to look at your brokerage's business strategy?

Is it time to look at your brokerage's business strategy? | Insurance Business New Zealand

Is it time to look at your brokerage's business strategy?

As we head towards the summer holidays and Aucklanders look forward to leaving the city for the first time in months, advisers across the country will be looking forward to a well-deserved break.

However, the time for performance and business strategy reviews is also drawing near, and one business expert says that now is a great time to reflect on how your brokerage has performed over the last year, and to think about where you want to take things over the next twelve months.

2021 saw advisers deal with a significant regime change, and this has come with a strong focus on trust, good conduct, rigorous record keeping and good customer outcomes. With this focus in mind, many advisers have had to reshape their businesses completely, and with almost ten months of operating within the new regime to reflect on, this will be a good chance to identify what has worked, what hasn’t, and what still needs to be improved upon.

When it comes to business strategy, business expert and coach John Spence says there are several key elements to being seen as a ‘trusted adviser’ - one of the most important aspects of the new regime.

“To me, there are a lot of levels to being a trusted adviser,” Spence said. “At the base of it is that you’ve got to know what you’re doing. You need to understand what’s going on in the market, what the new products and services are, what’s going on generally in the business world in New Zealand and across the world, and having good, strong business acumen.”

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“The second level is that you need to be really good at understanding your own industry,” he explained. “What kinds of technological trends are emerging, what kinds of tools are coming into the market? Where do you see the shifts and changes happening in the industry? If those changes are two or three years out, can you start preparing today?”

“The third level is being able to understand your competition, just so that you can position yourself appropriately. You need to understand what you’re competing with, how your competitors price things, what products and services they’re offering - discounts, specials, whatever it might be. If there’s something you can take on, or something you can do that they can’t do, then that’s an area to focus on to gain a competitive advantage.”

Central to the planning of most brokerages is the business plan, which experts say is important to review at least every year - though it is important to check in with your objectives on a more regular basis.

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When it comes to standing out in a crowded market, Spence noted that it is important to look at your core business offering, and think about what you are doing that is unique and difficult to replace in the market. He acknowledged that specialist advisers might find this aspect more difficult - however, he said that making use of a brand, of data and of a strong team is a good place to start.

“I believe there are four key things to focus on to build a good strategy,” Spence said. “First, what can you bring to the marketplace that is unique and compelling, and second, will your target customer be willing to pay for it? Number three is difficult in the adviser industry, but that is about bringing something that’s difficult or impossible to copy. And number four [is] something that you can consistently deliver with excellence.”

“There are only a few things that meet all of those criteria, and the first is talent,” he explained. “Are you really good at what you do, and are your people good at what you do? Then there is having a culture that engages your people, customer relationships and brand. If you have a very famous brand or partner with one, you can gain the credibility of that trusted partner, or build up a personal brand if you’re a solo adviser.

“Finally, you have data. Most organisations are sitting on a goldmine of data and don’t use it appropriately, or maybe you have unique and proprietary data that might allow you to gain a competitive advantage.”