High quality staff are increasingly critical to both a positive client experience and ongoing profitability in a financial advice firm.

The 2018 Macquarie Accounting and Financial Services Benchmarking Report found 50% of all firms believe that the capability, expertise and diligence of their people is what clients value most about their firm. In addition, 52% of all firms and 64% of top performing – or benchmark - practices believe retaining their best employees is the most effective strategy for improving profitability in the current market.

The Benchmarking Report found benchmark firms were much more focused on training and development (78% versus 64% of all firms) as part of a suite of tools to retain their staff and increase loyalty and commitment.

The focus on training and development supports one of the oldest jokes in management:

Two managers are discussing training for their employees. The first poses the question 'yeah, but what if we train them, and then they leave?' The other responds, 'Yeah, but what if we don't - and they stay?'

If your firm wants to be among the ranks of the top performers, it's crucial to invest in skills development and establish clear career development goals for your team.

10 reasons to upskill your staff

1. Improved employee retention

One of the key drivers of turnover is allowing employees to stagnate in their current role. Recruiting, training and getting new hires up to speed costs a lot, so it’s more economical to invest in the staff you have now.

2. More skilled employees

Upskilling protects staff and their skillsets from becoming obsolete in a rapidly changing business environment. Offering non-job specific training, or the chance to learn new skills, allows employees to sharpen their talents in different areas.

3. Higher morale

Employees who feel continually challenged in their jobs and careers tend to be happier people overall. Giving employees the opportunity to develop and grow their skills creates a sense of purpose and contentment.

4. Improved client satisfaction

Happy employees lead to happy clients. This is because satisfied employees are typically more engaged and more willing to promote their firm to clients. Upskilling keeps your staff updated on industry trends so they can offer valuable suggestions and insights to clients and prospects. They also become strong brand advocates.

5. Easier staff recruitment

Firms known for their commitment to upskilling are more attractive to high performing potential employees. Engaged employees are likely to recommend the practice to their own network, opening a wider talent pool to firms looking for new staff members.

6. Improved productivity and quality

Untrained employees are inefficient as more time, money and effort are required to perform task and responsibilities. Employees who understand their role clearly and have high level skills can perform their tasks more effectively.

7. Easier position rotation

Successful advice firms are investing in building collaboration skills to allow effective cross-discipline coordination.1 Upskilling helps employees develop client relationship management and leadership skills, allowing them to move into a range of roles across the business or be reallocated during peak periods.

8. Fewer mistakes

Mistakes cost time and money – and often a client. Errors are usually due to employees lacking the knowledge and skills required to do a particular job. Additional training can reduce the chance of mistakes and helps develop more adroit employees.

9. Reduced absenteeism

Upskilling gives employees a feeling of confidence and security in the workplace. When staff believe their employer is willing to invest in them and sees them as a key part of the business, it can decrease the likelihood of absenteeism.

10. Seize growth opportunities

Staff who have strongly developed cross-disciplinary skillsets are able to help a firm capitalise on potential opportunities. Firms can rapidly ramp up their service offering to deal with new clients or business opportunities when they arise.

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1 2018 Macquarie Accounting and Financial Services Benchmarking Report.

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