Earlier, when financial advisory was still at a nascent stage in India, it was common for advisors to work alone. However, with the exponential growth in the industry in recent times, many advisors have started working with a team.
As advisors, you constantly strive to grow your business, improve your client relations, offer more products and services to your clients and refine your skillset. With such a diverse target list, it is important to evaluate what would be more fruitful – running a solo practice or working with a team.
To make this decision easier for you, Team Cafemutual evaluates merits of both the approaches.
- Efficiency: A team improves efficiency as different team members can focus on their core competencies i.e. one person could focus on business development, one on back end and so on
- Potential for expansion: Allows you to widen your reach as you can target more prospective clients and offer a wider array of products.
Jayant Vidwans of Vidwans Financial Advisories feels that having a team of advisors can help you scale up your business as different team members can focus on different product offerings such as stock broking, mutual funds, insurance etc. Thus, you can become a one-stop-shop for your client’s entire financial needs.
- Better client service: Having a team reduces your workload and helps you focus on providing superior service to your clients
- Empowers the business to handle your absence: Having a team ensures that the business will still run smoothly even in your absence. Suresh Sadagopan of Ladder7 feels that clients gain comfort from the fact that they can contact any team-member in case you are not available for some reason.
- There is always the fear that your team members may choose to branch out on their own and in the process may take some clients with them. Though this will not be desirable, it is a risk you need to take to grow your business.
- Ensuring all team members share same values and vision is a challenge
- Stability: In a one-advisor set-up, there is no fear of junior advisors switching jobs or senior advisors deciding to part ways with you. As both these scenarios can unsettle your business at least temporarily, working alone shields your business from these uncertainties.
- No clash of opinions: In a team, it is likely that different people will have different ideas as to how to grow the business. So long all members can work together and agree on which route to take, it will help grow the business. However, if there are internal clashes, the resulting disagreements may have a negative impact on the business. Datta Kanbargi feels that unless you are confident that your team members will share the same wavelength and have a similar long-term vision for the business, it is better to be an individual advisor as there is no risk of instability due to differences between partners.
- Personal equation: You will share a personal equation with all your clients which will help you give them customised advice.
Sadashiv Phene highlights that one-on-one connect is the biggest advantage of running a solo practice. “I know all my clients and their families really well. This helps me give investment advice looking at the complete picture and their likely future needs,” he adds.
- Accountability: By being responsible for all client investment advice you can ensure that highest level of integrity is maintained.
- Business is less scalable – you will soon reach a limit
- You will have less time for client engagement and retention activities
Growing a business is difficult more so if you are alone as there is a limit to how many clients an advisor can handle. Having a team enables you to tap into more opportunities and scale up faster. Unless you are content, and do not have any expansion plans, it is advisable to build a team.
Having a team also helps you build a value proposition for your clients that goes beyond the abilities of a single person. As different people have different competencies, working in a team allows you to leverage the strengths of all team members to grow the business. Additionally, segmenting responsibilities based on individual skills allows you to service your clients better. For e.g. you can allocate a social team-member to work on client engagement, while a person proficient in admin and organisation can ensure that all your clients receive investment related data in a timely manner.
We realise that some advisors are averse to hiring a team because they do not want to dilute the quality of service offered to their clients. However, by training and motivating your team members you can ensure that they share your vision and work ethic. Yes, there will be a risk that they may decide to branch out but that is a risk common to many businesses such as lawyers, restauranteurs, CAs, to name a few. Rather than fearing their exit you should try to understand what motivates them, for e.g. some people like more autonomy, while others want to be recognised for their work. Understanding what drives your team members and rewarding them accordingly makes them feel valued. They will then be less likely to leave.
So are you thinking of growing your business? Then do think of investing in a team!