Innovative Seminars: Building Value in your IFA Business.

Following the landmark Brexit vote recently, many market commentators have suggested that the Brexiteers appeared not to have made particularly detailed plans as to what would happen in the immediate aftermath of a victory for the “vote leave” camp.
Whilst this is somewhat surprising, there are parallels here for financial advisers who are approaching a sale of or exit from their business comments Louise Jeffreys, Managing Director at Gunner &Co. Unfortunately, many realise all too late in the day that a successful exit from their business takes a lot of careful planning – much of which is done years in advance.
I meet many excellent financial advisers who surprise me with their lack of knowledge, understanding and focus of the importance of working ‘on’ their business, as opposed to ‘in’ it. It has become a relatively classic situation where advisers who are coming to the point of being ready to exit their business have not thought in advance of preparing their business for this transition. It’s not just about exit though. The good news is
that the strategies, plans and processes that go to making a business ready for sale are all needed as part of running an effective and profitable business.
“Start with the end in mind” – that’s what Paul Wilson, former IFA and founder-entrepreneur of Clifton Media Lab, opens his case study presentation with at Gunner & Co.’s seminar series – Building Value in your IFA business. (I’ve a feeling Paul was inspired originally by the late great Dr. Stephen Covey!).
He talks about how he set up his IFA practice knowing there would be a time to exit and that he kept that in mind when making all major decisions. He also highlights the trigger points to exit, and the point when he realised the time was right to do so – having made himself suitably dispensable that he knew the business would continue to thrive without him at the helm.
However, following his example isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally for every adviser. Most often, an adviser’s comfort zone is firmly in building and nurturing strong client relationships although possibly also in carrying out the technical research and due diligence required to back up advice given. What is clear is that there is generally a clear lack of support specific to adviser businesses on the essentials of working on the business as well as in it, and essentially preparing for exit. That’s why we at Gunner & Co. set up a seminar series, to provide the opportunity for information as well as discussion and debate.
The seminars are designed to appeal primarily to business owners who are looking at exiting in the next 3 years or so, covering topics such as the essentials of entrepreneur’s tax relief and the legal process. However, they are also hugely valuable for those adviser businesses which are simply looking to plan ahead, and work towards that goal in future. On the agenda are topics and debates around what aspects are considered valuable, what different buyer propositions exist, and case studies from advisers who’ve been through the process, with key learnings.
“I attended a Gunner & Co. seminar just leading up to the sale of my business, and whilst it was hugely valuable, I certainly wish I’d done it a couple of years earlier” said Gavin Bridges Sparkes, a now retired IFA.
See more about upcoming events.
By exploring valuation methodologies, and what drives premium valuations, we lead into a key factor of the size of the business itself (particularly funds under advice). The London seminar has an excellent session on segmenting your client base and looking for pockets of untapped growth opportunities, whether that’s with active clients or archived clients.
“You wouldn’t sell your house without giving it a lick of paint, and so it makes absolute sense to enter into the exit phase with careful consideration – be that 5 years out. We work with IFAs to uncover growth opportunities through their client data, and the results can be excellent for very little investment” comments Chris Park from Equifax Touchstone, a presenter at the seminars.
At Gunner and Co. we also get a lot of feedback from advisers who find that the merger and acquisitions (m&a) market is so active right now that it’s very difficult to follow what’s actually happening. Taking that into account, the seminar has two key sessions to try to make sense of the market. We include an overview of how the m&a market has evolved over the last 30 years, and in particular since RDR. There’s also an interactive, round-table session where active acquirers in the market present their propositions and answer questions from small groups of attendees. This has proved to be an incredibly popular session. The opportunity to hear from fellow delegates on their concerns or plans that they have is also regularly cited as being particularly valuable.
To date, we’re pleased to say that delegate feedback indicates we’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of the content provided. We’ve enjoyed resoundingly positive reactions, although it’s important for us to remain open to different ideas of what advisers would find valuable. We therefore spend a lot of time researching the right content.
This year we’ve run seminars in Manchester, London and Bristol, and will be in London again later in the years as well as Birmingham. We’re open to suggestions of other cities and regions to host the seminars too.
Check the most recent events here.