How to Successfully Grow an Independent Financial Planning Business – Insights from South Africa

Last week I was delighted to be able to introduce a South African adviser partner of PortfolioMetrix to Irish financial advisers and planners. Kim Potgieter of Chartered Wealth Solutions shared her experiences as part of the management team that has grown and transformed Chartered Wealth over the last 12 or 15 years from very much a traditional product-centric business with less than 10 people in it into the largest independent financial planning business in South Africa with over 80 staff and approximately €500m of Assets Under Advice.

PortfolioMetrix is certainly very proud to have been part of that journey with Chartered and so it was a pleasure to connect Kim with an Irish audience.

What I think is particularly relevant and interesting to us from an Irish perspective is that the South African advice landscape 10-15 years ago looked very like Ireland does today but there has been a major shift in South Africa from traditional product-led brokerages to fee-based financial planning led businesses over that timeframe and the businesses that proactively made that change are the ones that have thrived. Interestingly, unlike in our near neighbour the UK, there has been no commission ban, no RDR style event, to make this happen.

There were a few key takeaways for me from the call. Among them were the following;

  1. A Focus on Specialisation

Key in the development of their business has been building a very strong client experience and value proposition with coaching as a core element built around their key skills of advising clients on their financial life journey whilst using specialists like PortfolioMetrix in areas where they don’t have the same in house expertise and resources such as Investment Management.

  1. Commitment and Discipline to Work On the Business

Also key was their absolute commitment to viewing the business very much as a business which required time and commitment to work on as well as working in the business on a day to day basis, for example carving out Friday mornings each week as a time to think about the business strategy and direction rather than focus on the day to day demands of client work and moving to salaries while reinvesting in the business.

  1. Constant Learning and Global Best Practice

Linked to the above, the desire and hunger to seek out global best practice and learn from others, both within and outside the industry, who were doing things in the way that they wanted to – and then implement those learnings. Whether it be learning how to “Wow” your clients from Disney or creating a “Tribe” from Seth Godin to learning the art of life planning from Roy Diliberto and Mitch Anthony.

For me, it was a fascinating insight into a business that has not just read the blog books, listened to the podcasts and attended the seminars, but has actually gone and walked the walk and implemented the things that so many talks about, but never get around to doing. The challenge for all advisers on the call was to take away one or two learnings and apply them to their business over the next few months – overnight success usually takes a long time!

Some feedback I have received since the call is worth noting:

  • “Inspiring”
  • “It was very worthwhile and a real value add. Great that Kim was so open with her history and her current client value proposition.”
  • “Thank you for today, an excellent presentation !”
  • “Can’t wait to watch it again”
  • “Great to get an insight into the structure of a business like that”
  • “Delighted to see that they have done the types of things that we are trying to do in changing our business – it validates the decisions we have made”
  • “I have zoom fatigue at the moment but I could have listened to Kim for another 90 minutes!”

If you are an adviser that is adopting global best practice in your business I would love to hear from you about what you are doing that has made a big difference in your business.