Habit 2 – Understand the business
All our research says that clients want their advisers to have better understanding of their business and the context of the transaction.
One of the strengths of the professions is that they operate within and have created strong regulatory frameworks that have been built up over hundreds of years. However, these precedent based frameworks can often be a blind spot in a dynamic and rapidly changing world. Often opportunities are ‘outside the box’ and require different skills to solve.
Clients expect advisers to understand the basics of their business and sector e.g. organisational structure, P&L and competitors.
As firms improve their key account management and become sector specialists, more professionals have this basic knowledge.
However, great commercial advisers have a higher level of business insight. They understand their business strategy, industry issues, key personnel and culture. They look forward and have a view on what trends are likely to reshape the sector in the future.
Building affinity with clients pays dividends
55% of clients cite an in-depth understanding of the key personnel and senior management in their business as a crucial area of know-how. For Andy Haxby, Managing Director of Netherlands-based IT firm Competa, it is important to develop a long-term relationship with an adviser who understands both his business and personal ambitions well:
“They should understand the context of what I’m doing, understand our company’s history, understand my style of doing business, and understand me as a person” Managing Director, IT firm
Building affinity with clients requires time and effort but rewards advisers willing to make that investment.
Many advisory firms, particularly those organized as partnerships, are highly politically-charged environments. One of the quick wins for advisers is to turn their acutely tuned political radar to work on their clients’ organisations. Developing affinity in this way can often make the difference between advice which is actioned and advice which is warmly-received but never fully implemented.
‘Spend time on the ground, spend time, get out there and don’t sit in your ivory tower’. SVP, Oil Business