THE SUSTAINABLE WAY TO GROW

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1 Financial Services POINT OF VIEW THE SUSTAINABLE WAY TO GROW WHAT WEALTH MANAGERS CAN LEARN FROM OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AUTHOR Philippe Bongrand, Partner

2 Wealth Management is a professional services business like many others. Its business depends on Relationship Managers (RMs) who acquire, nurture and develop client relationships. The role played by the RM in the business model is both a strength and a weakness a strength because of the bond formed with clients, a weakness because the sales force that is made of RMs can sometimes be resistant to the changes that management views as beneficial. Up until now and before the digital age, more business has always meant to have more RMs, but neither automatic productivity improvements nor better economies of scale. By contrast, other professional services sectors, such as audit or consulting, faced with the same scale challenge have been able to successfully grow to significant sizes. These firms have not just merely increased their staff but have chosen a path to make their professionals more productive and their business models more scalable. In this article we look at some elements that Wealth Managers might have neglected in their model and we suggest an agenda for growth. 1

3 1. THE GROWTH CHALLENGE Professional services businesses auditors, lawyers, doctors, consultants, architects, etc. share certain characteristics: Clients interact directly with the professionals, who are the main touchpoint Professionals are highly educated and experts in their fields Revenues, growth and profitability depend largely on the performance of the professionals They are not capital intensive These features often explain why these industries are highly fragmented, Wealth Management being no exception. In other words, unless you specifically look for it, there is no obvious scale advantage in professional services. As a firm takes on more clients, it needs to take on more professionals and unit costs do not fall appreciably unless there is a specific strategy to improve the professionals productivity. Professional services firms can grow along two dimensions: Add more professionals to capture a higher market share of the business, either organically or through acquisitions the hiring strategy Make their professionals more efficient and effective the productivity strategy Hence growth can be considered in a simple two-dimensional matrix, that we call the framework for growth (see table below) where firms can choose a growth strategy which can combine these dimensions in any way they like. Exhibit 1: A framework for growth HIRE NEW PROFESSIONALS IMPROVE PROFESSIONALS PRODUCTIVITY Most professional services have chosen to grow along the productivity axis, i.e. choosing to first invest into their professionals productivity and thereafter to scale their model, once it has been as much standardized and industrialized as possible. With such a strategy, the leading audit or consulting firms have grown to a much larger size than Wealth Management firms, the largest having one hundred thousand professionals. We will see how they did it. Copyright 2014 Oliver Wyman

4 Exhibit 2: How most Professional Services firms have grown PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRMS HIRE Hiring new Relationship Managers 1. Establish a way of doing business 2. Then scale up Improving productivity 1 2 IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY By contrast, Wealth Managers have largely prioritized hiring over productivity in their growth paths. This strategy was adapted to a period of underlying natural asset and market growth which could sustain the hiring strategy with all its costs: searching for new RMs is expensive, recruiting generates costs before any revenues are produced, new staff must be trained and enculturated, some of the new recruits will not perform, etc. At the same time, many firms were pushed into such a strategy since some of their own RMs were poached by competitors, so they had to do it as well. Hiring strategies did support growth through the recruitment of more professionals but left most firms where they started in terms of productivity. Because in adding professionals in an industry where RMs already have much independence, firms have further added diversity and inconsistency in the ways their RMs worked. Exhibit 3: How Wealth Management firms have grown 2 WEALTH MANAGERS 1. Hired RM to increase revenues HIRE 1 Hiring new Relationship Managers 2. Need to fill the productivity gap IMPROVE RM PRODUCTIVITY Wealth Managers have focused on hiring because they already have two scale elements embedded in their model that other industries have not. Hence, the different approach. First, RMs have a high share of recurring revenues generated from the amount of assets and liabilities managed unlike lawyers, auditors, consultants etc. who need to source continually the activity which will generate revenues. Second, by choosing to serve larger clients within the limits of their segment, RMs can, with the same amount of time, handle larger books and achieve some scalability, unlike for example a lawyer which will require more time to handle a more complex case, or an auditor which will require more time to audit a larger client. So what can Wealth Managers learn from other firms? 3

5 2. CREATING SCALABILITY The professional services firms that grew recognized that simply recruiting more professionals would not work for them. In order to be efficient as a larger firm, they would need to ensure that a number of key practices would be done in a consistent way. Not all their practices, because it was important to leave some freedom to the professionals, but definitely the key ones. Hence, they recognized the need to create a more standardized way of working in order to create scalability through consistency in their businesses. Let s look at some of the practices that these firms have implemented to increase productivity and consistency in how professionals work. These include: Defining common key practices: in order to ensure minimum standards of quality many practices were standardized such as audit process templates for auditors, standard methodologies and valuation models for investment bankers, or minimum analytical and communication skills for consultants. Exhibit 4 below illustrates some examples across various businesses. Exhibit 4: Illustrative productivity initiatives at Professional Services firms SECTORS AUDIT EXAMPLES OF STANDARDS INTRODUCED TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY Templates and sheets to review accounts Productivity tools Standardization of final reports Teaming CONSULTANTS Database to capture and keep the intellectual capital developed Analysis and productivity tools Communication skills Recruitment and apprenticeship process INVESTMENT BANKERS Valuation processes and methodologies Standardization of Pitch books Recruitment and onboarding process Client review and development process LAWYERS Standard templates for repeat tasks (e.g. contracts, letters) Clear roles and responsibilities of legal vs. paralegal staff Qualification and training of new hires Process management of client cases MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS Roles and responsibilities of each practitioner (specialization) Time management planning: grouping similar actions (e.g. type of surgery) on specific days to increase efficiency Use of protocols and checklists for surgeries Diagnostic procedures to identify issues Copyright 2014 Oliver Wyman

6 Sharing the intellectual capital existing within the firm through the creation of a repository of the most useful documents, tools and methodologies. This standardization helps any professional in the firm to find a standard letter, presentation of the firm, case studies, methodologies, insights, etc. In order to save time and ensure consistency and quality in work practices. Developing more standard products and solutions so that they are easier to sell. This has led all firms to develop various practices often organized in a matrix structure around the client industries (e.g. banking, consumer goods, etc.) and functional competencies (e.g. strategy, organization, etc). Such an organization has enabled firms to focus the time and efforts of the sales professionals to fewer topics where they have distinct competencies. Developing more team-based approaches to create more stickiness between the firm and the client. While clients would benefit from the power of the firm by working with more than one professional, the professionals also realized that they could greatly learn from each other s best practices and ultimately achieve higher share-of-wallet and retention rates for themselves as well as for the firm. Improving how people are hired, integrated, rewarded and managed: especially to strengthen the recruitment process in order to better assess future fit and success within the firm, the appraisal and rewards system to make it more transparent around the values and performance expected and the promotion and exit processes for underperforming professionals. Improving the operational model to move from a fragmentation of offices and practices to a state where many more things would be put in common. This included the infrastructure, the organization of the support professionals and the supporting economic model. Building a distinctive culture and brand that helps the firm articulate what their people proposition is as well as what their client promise is. When the culture and brand promise are sufficiently differentiated and superior, this will support a natural pull of talent and clients into the firm. These main practices have helped achieve growth by improving the productivity of professionals in the firm, therefore having an impact on revenues and profit per professional. Of course, because professional services vary, practices that are effective in one sector are not always transferable to another. Nevertheless, most of the practices adopted by the auditors, law firms, consultancies and other professional firms that have successfully grown could also be followed by Wealth Managers. 5

7 3. AN AGENDA FOR GROWTH Most Wealth Managers have relied on hiring RMs from their competitors to add capacity. This recruiting from my competitors game has been going on for decades and is fiercer in Asia and in the US. The effects have been negative for the industry, driving compensation costs up, staff loyalty down and RMs to believe that clients are theirs, not the firm s. Although some Wealth Managers have invested in training their RMs, they have done little to transform their working practices to improve productivity and create scalability. This is largely because the industry was growing fast, margins and profitability were excellent and clients still tolerated inconsistent service and performance. With those easy days gone, Wealth Managers must change their perspective. Here are our top 10 recommendations: TEN PRACTICES FOR SUCCESS WEALTH MANAGEMENT IS A PEOPLE S BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP MANAGER PRODUCTIVITY IS KEY AMBITION & MEASUREMENT 1 The importance of the 4 Apprencticeship model 2 3 Having a Partnership culture Why teaming is essential Enhancing a common Way of Working Time management Sharing intellectual capital Industrialize and digitize Focus on organic growth 15% sales force growth per annum Relationship Manager performance assessment WEALTH MANAGEMENT IS A PEOPLE BUSINESS 1. Apprenticeship model Wealth managers should consciously adopt an apprenticeship model. Professional services are businesses where people learn most effectively on the job and from each other; hence, role modelling and coaching are essential. Compared to other professionals, very little has been done in the Wealth Management industry compared to how people are being systematically developed in consulting, audit or law firms. 2. Partnership culture All successful professional services models operate as a Partnership. Staff aspire to grow within the firm rather than hop from one firm to the next. Partnership models create a natural aspiration to grow within the firm, a sense of loyalty and a stronger culture of mutual support for the firms who implement them. Even if they are not a real Partnership, firms should introduce some governance elements in order to ensure that their professionals have a voice at the table and can be listened to in all major decisions. Copyright 2014 Oliver Wyman

8 3. Teaming Professional firms all agree that teaming is the superior selling model. As many would mention, it is a team sport and RMs should be expected to work in teams along with others. Wealth Managers should therefore change their model to foster a higher level and more effective teaming (broadly defined to include specialists, assistants, etc.) in order to reap the benefits of that sales approach, both for the firm and for the RMs. ENHANCING RM PRODUCTIVITY IS KEY 4. Way of Working Regulators are demanding that RMs meet specified standards and mandating training and certification. Wealth managers should use the opportunity to establish in-house standards that go beyond the management of basic conduct risk issues to establish the way we do business here. These practices should help improve efficiency as well as consistency in the services delivered and can be both client facing standards (e.g. how to run a client meeting) and internal standards (e.g. how to manage a prospect pipeline). 5. Time Management As with any professional service, RM time management is critical for productivity. This aspect of the Wealth Management industry is relatively unexploited and is a very significant opportunity for firms to improve the efficiency of their advisory force. Therefore, developing a clear analysis of where RM spend time is essential and will lead in a second step to all sorts of productivity improvements. 6. Sharing intellectual capital Sharing intellectual capital is a vital element of any industry based on people. It is clearly not sufficiently developed within the Wealth management industry and there are significant opportunities to capture and share the vast intellectual capital and experience that a firm has. We see two main areas of development. First, through Knowledge Management systems which should be gradually introduced and second through internal social networks in order to allow RMs (and specialists) to communicate more often with each other and benefit from each other s experience. 7. Industrialize & Digitalize While back-office processes have largely been industrialized, front-office has substantial room for improvement in terms of automating RM-related processes (e.g. advisory process). These will require substantial investments and yield both efficiency gains and service level improvements (e.g. portfolio monitoring and rebalancing). In that context, leveraging digital is a major opportunity to extract productivity gains. Many steps in the process by which clients are advised can be better performed by a computer than by a RM (e.g. information gathering, systematic monitoring of portfolios, etc.). Firms should therefore define how to best combine technology and RM to deliver a better service in a more efficient and cost effective way. 7

9 HOW YOU GROW AND MEASURE THE BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT 8. Focus on organic growth Wealth managers should aim to grow organically by hiring, enculturating and developing young professionals rather than by hiring experienced RMs from competitors. This means that the model and the efforts should be refocused internally to manage the pyramid, so that the development of people through the apprenticeship model supports the growth plan of the firm % sales force growth ambition Attempted growth should respect the natural limits to the number of people a manager and its team can on-board and train within the apprenticeship model. This maximum growth is between 15% and 20% per annum since a team of six can rarely on-board and train more than one person per year at a time, if they want to ensure quality and consistency in the apprenticeship model. If you account for the natural and forced attrition that will come for underperforming RMs, the net sustainable growth of a sales force will therefore likely be within a range of 7%-10% per annum. 10. Assessing performance of Relationship Managers In an apprenticeship model, performance should be assessed based on the tenure of each individual. It means that performance will be reviewed in relative terms by vintages (amongst RMs having the same length of experience), with the expectations that the firm should expect a larger contribution from more tenured professionals. Expected contribution should be a mix of sales KPIs and of other non-sales related KPIs contributing to the long term sustainability of the firm (e.g. sharing intellectual capital, people development, brand building, etc.) Changing working practices is never easy. However, three elements will help enable the changes. First, firms profits are under pressure. Second, a few leading firms have started to implement these practices and all other firms will soon need to follow. Third, the crisis has triggered a generational change with many experienced RMs not wishing to stay in an industry where the weight of compliance has changed their way of working which will ease the resistance to changes. We hope these forces will encourage wealth managers to implement an approach that has worked so well in other professional services industries. As a professional services firm ourselves we understand how important these elements are for the growth of a firm and how they should be designed and implemented. Having helped Wealth Managers already on such topics, we look forward to helping you. Copyright 2014 Oliver Wyman

10 ASSESS YOUR ORGANIZATION VERSUS THE 10 KEY PRACTICES Please rank your organization vs. your competitors Below average Above average Top 10 practices How good is our Apprenticeship Model? 2. How developed is our Partnership culture? 3. How developed is teaming among our front facing professionals? 4. How well have we defined standard ways of working to ensure key successful practices are lived by all? 5. How well have we optimized RM time? 6. How are we capturing and sharing our intellectual capital? 7. How are we using digital to create scale in our business? 8. How much do we focus on hiring and developing people internally rather than hiring externally? 9. How consistently do we grow our sales force every year? 10. How do we differentiate our people assessment based on their tenure and full contribution (sales KPI and other KPI relevant to the long term contribution to the firm)? Overall Assessment 9

11 Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialised expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organisation transformation. For more information please contact the marketing department by at or by phone at one of the following locations: EMEA AMERICAS ASIA PACIFIC ABOUT THE AUTHOR Philippe Bongrand is a Partner in Oliver Wyman s Wealth and Asset Management practice. Copyright 2014 Oliver Wyman All rights reserved. This report may not be reproduced or redistributed, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Oliver Wyman and Oliver Wyman accepts no liability whatsoever for the actions of third parties in this respect. The information and opinions in this report were prepared by Oliver Wyman. This report is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accountants, tax, legal or financial advisors. Oliver Wyman has made every effort to use reliable, up-to-date and comprehensive information and analysis, but all information is provided without warranty of any kind, express or implied. Oliver Wyman disclaims any responsibility to update the information or conclusions in this report. Oliver Wyman accepts no liability for any loss arising from any action taken or refrained from as a result of information contained in this report or any reports or sources of information referred to herein, or for any consequential, special or similar damages even if advised of the possibility of such damages. The report is not an offer to buy or sell securities or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell securities. This report may not be sold without the written consent of Oliver Wyman.

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