Director, Practice Management, TD Ameritrade Institutional
Good times—in recent years, operating profit margins for the typical firm have increased, hitting a record high of 26.1% in 2014. Expenses have consistently declined, with overhead costs as a share of firm revenues achieving a record low for the year. Many advisory firms can attribute the majority of their recent growth to favorable markets. But what happens when the market turns? As many found out in 2008-2009, an economic downturn is not the time to realize that your infrastructure is not as strong as it could be.
Firms that successfully weather the natural peaks and valleys of the markets do so because they are focused on further development of their people, processes, and technology— as well as revenue- generating activities. In addition, these firms cite efficiency as the second leading indicator of growth for their firm.
So, what actions can you take to infuse efficiency into your firm? Here are a few ideas:
- Expand your strategic planning process to include goals around client satisfaction, process-related efficiency and productivity
- Assess your processes and technology to determine what’s broken or needs an upgrade
- Decide what might make sense to outsource given your limited resources and areas of expertise
- Take a closer look at your staff—do you have the right people in the right roles to accomplish your short and long-term goals?
- Develop a list of key performance metrics to measure how consistently and efficiently your processes are being practiced
- Re-prioritize your time and that of your staff based on how much value an activity contributes toward achieving the firm’s strategic goals
Don’t wait until you are forced to initiate change. By fostering a culture focused on efficient operations from your people to your systems, you will build a strong foundation from which to drive your firm’s performance and long-term growth now and into the future.
To learn more about how to successfully execute on these ideas and more, read our perspective paper, Driving Business Performance through Efficiency.
 FA Insight. “The 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms: Growth by Design.” 2014. TD Ameritrade and FA Insight are separate and unaffiliated companies, and are not responsible for each other’s policies,opinions or services.