In a fast-evolving industry, advisers need to stay one step ahead of the game, especially in a bid to beat the banks, robo-advisers and direct-to-consumer platforms with their big marketing budgets.

    Although financial advice is the bread and butter for all firms, advisers must also think about business development and how to build a strong company that is fit for the future.

    In order to this, advisers must start innovating. Financial services can often be seen as a traditional, old fashioned industry which is slow to respond to advancements that have been fully accepted by other markets. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    So, here’s a look at how some non-finance companies have shaken up how they do things in a bid to have that edge and the lessons advice firms could pick up for their own practices:


    Aussie software developer Atlassian may divide advisers over their Jira technology, but everyone can agree they are on the ball with encouraging staff to fully engage with the future direction of the business.

    Atlassian has gone one better than Google’s famed 20% with their ‘ShipIt Day’ – a whole day set aside for all Atlassians to work on whatever they want to help improve the business, through products, physical spaces, culture or operations. It works on an entirely open format, so staff can do whatever they want as long as it relates to the products.

    At the end staff present their projects, there is a vote to pick one to be implemented and the winner gets to win a trophy and bragging rights.

    It is a brilliant way to get staff committed to the success of the company, and also gives them a creative outlet and breaks up the monotony of daily working life by giving them something new. It also shows staff that the business respects and trusts them enough to give them the power to experiment and develop the business in a way they see best fit.


    Kickstarter may have kick-started the crowdfunding furore, but check out Patreon to find next-level thinking on building a brand and creating a community.

    Unlike most other crowdfunding models, Patreon doesn’t require patrons to pledge a one-time sum for musicians, artists, bloggers and other people pitching a project; patrons pledge regular amounts: weekly, monthly, or pre-creation based on how often they want to pay. That in itself is pretty disruptive, but there’s more.

    Patreon has created a community between the creators and the patrons. Creators make videos and write messages specifically for their patrons, they give updates on the work that the patrons are funding and there is often a fair bit of exclusive content given to patrons.

    This creates a greater connectivity between, effectively, the seller and buyer, and increases consumer engagement. As patrons pay on a regular basis and have exclusive content to keep up to date with the creator, they also become emotionally, as well as financially invested in the projects and have a stronger interest in seeing things go well.

    Menlo Innovations

    Although nearly all business owners will say they want their staff to be happy at work, not a lot would go above and beyond to make joy in the workplace a priority like Richard Sheridan, chief executive of software provider Menlo Innovations.

    Last year nearly 4,000 people visited the Menlo Innovations office to find out how the company has implemented its good culture that focuses on the wellbeing on its staff alongside its software development.

    The company connects its team emotionally, intellectually and physically by having a system where two people work at the same computer at the same time on the same task, and then they get paired up with other people after five days. Menlo say it produces more productivity than people working alone silently in cubicles, but it would also be a sure fire way of building friendships between staff members and cultivating a friendly and fun atmosphere as people don’t just only know their own team members.

    Another way the company has brought in a better culture is by eliminating traditional internal meetings. The company has a team of 60, and when it wants to call an all-company meeting, the person leading will call out: ‘Hey Menlo!’ and everyone replies ‘Hey’ and then they’re in an all-company meeting right at their own desks, and the business is transacted there and then. This saves time-consuming emails, booking rooms, checking of calendars and waiting for the inevitable staff members to get their cups of coffee!


    Online training tools company Administrate is breaking convention by being a lifestyle business with its unsurprisingly very popular four-day working weeks.

    The firm ensures its employees have a good work/life balance and understands the importance of personal development outside of work which will makes a more productive and enjoyable working environment.

    Staff don’t do long hours during those four days either, and do a normal day’s work. A look at the company’s Glassdoor reviews proves how much the employees appreciate this; with one stating they value it more than a salary increase!


    Games developer Valve got fed up with the traditional distribution model for computer games so it built Steam, a digital platform to distribute digital rights management, multiplayer gaming and social networking services.

    Steam has over 3,500 games to play whether you are on a PC, Mac, Linux box, mobile or even television.

    The company is price savvy as well, compared to the often-extortionate prices of ‘hard copy’ versions of console games, Steam frequently has discounted sales on games on a daily and weekly basis, sometimes even up to 90%.

    Although advisers should probably steer clear of offering ‘summer sales’ on their services or entering in an intense price war, it is useful to bear in mind that, like Valve, advisers should look to technology to become more cost-effective, time and work efficient, and also to cater to a more digitally demanding audience.

    Far from robo-advice being a threat to advisers, firms can offer lite-touch online offerings (like Valve has done with its games) at a cheaper rate than traditional offerings in a bid to attract younger clients who do not have the asset levels that warrant face-to-face advice with a view of moving onto that model when they’ve built sufficient assets when they hit their 50s or 60s.

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