Monday 24 October 2016

How connecting with peers can help advisers and accountants to get ahead

Believing you have the ability to create a favourable, positive outcome is essential when it comes to running a business, and financial planning and accounting practices are no exception.

The more confident an adviser or accountant is that they can achieve their business goals, the more successful they feel they are at doing so.

This held true across almost all measures in Macquarie’s 2015/16 Accounting and Financial Services Benchmarking Report.

Those who rated their confidence as ‘high’ were also more likely to rate themselves as successful at achieving their goals. This ranged from retaining quality staff, to improving profitability and integrating technology solutions to create efficiencies.

With this confidence comes a sense of focus and control.

Confident respondents prioritised factors that were within their control, such as building referrals and allocating resources effectively. On the flip side, the report revealed those with lower confidence were distracted by external factors outside of their control, pulling their focus away from issues where they can create a positive outcome. They cited increased competition, client retirement, the pace of regulatory change and attracting new clients as key concerns.

So what steps can advisers take to increase their confidence and ultimately their success?

One way is to tap into the collective intelligence of industry peers. Connecting with others who have most likely faced a similar problem, having valuable conversations about ways to tackle those problems and building networks can help advisers to share ideas, learn from each other and ultimately build confidence.


Connectivity, creating communities and having valuable conversations are key.

Virginia Heyer, Managing Director at Strategy One Financial Planning agrees. Heyer started her career at what was Godfrey Pembroke, and bought four practices in 2007.

“I am the receptionist that ended up buying the company,” says Heyer.

“They employed me some 30 years ago and I bought them all out. That was quite an interesting thing to do, particularly as a female, as I think a lot of women discount their ability to be able to do that sort of thing. To be able to go and buy businesses and take that plunge and borrow money to do it and all whilst being a single mother; it certainly wasn't without its challenges,” says Heyer.

Heyer believes there is value in advisers connecting with one another; having the opportunity to openly discuss challenges can be mutually beneficial, and gives advisers the confidence that the problems they are facing are not unique. It can also provide reassurance that you are on the right track with the work you’re doing in your own firm.

2 women meeting outside with tablet
Tapping into the collective intelligence of the industry has the potential to help advisers or accountants grow their confidence levels.

“I think it's very easy to get caught up in your own business and how you're doing. It's a really great thing to be able to see how other businesses are doing, to hear what they might be doing differently, because it can be lonely owning and running your own financial planning practice,” says Heyer.

Creating communities

More recently, Heyer transitioned from being an adviser with clients to purely focusing on running her business – a challenge that a number of other advisers are attempting to tackle as they aim to spend their time more effectively growing their business.

“What I find when I go to networking days is that you can see there are a lot of people struggling with that transition. They struggle to become more of a corporatised business rather than still that ‘one man band’.”

“Having an environment where they can talk openly and freely with other businesses is a great thing. I think it will help the industry to move forward and improve. ”

Valuable conversations

Forming relationships and continuing conversations beyond a networking day can be a powerful way for advisers and accountants to continue to build their confidence.

“I have had plenty of people come and sit across my desk, just for some advice or some help with things. I'm always happy to give it, because I think that's part of how we're going to get better and stronger as an industry. To share our ideas and what we've done - what we got right, what we got wrong,” says Heyer.

This concept also extends to staff. Having valuable conversations with staff will likely lead to positive outcomes. The report revealed that 54% of leaders within high-performing firms personally strive to be a guide to others.

“There's a huge trust factor with staff. They need to know they've got a true leader that backs them and is helping them with their personal growth, and is always there to encourage and inspire them.”

Collective intelligence

The business challenges faced by accountants and advisers are usually not unique to a particular practice.

Reaching out to peers, connecting and continuing communication can create learning opportunities so that mistakes aren’t repeated. Better still, it may create opportunities for practices to get a head start on certain steps, processes or techniques that have been tried and tested.

Tapping into the collective intelligence of the industry has the potential not only to help advisers or accountants grow their confidence levels, but ultimately to help the industry as a whole improve and move forward.

We’re open to connecting your way

We believe you should have the flexibility to run your business the way you choose. Learn about how we can help you to better connect with your clients.

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Unless stated otherwise, this information has been prepared by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 237502 and does not take into account your client’s objectives, financial situation or needs. 

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