Looking back over the last three years, the idea of future-proofing your business is almost laughable. Who could possibly have predicted the Covid pandemic and how that would affect business for years to come? 

    However, some people were one step ahead of the game and implemented and built strong businesses that required minimal adaption when it came to the pandemic. So, what can we do to be more like them?

    We can’t be sure what’s going to happen next but there are ways to be prepared for the future and you can develop ways to minimise potential stress and maximise business opportunities. So, read on for five things you can do to help future-proof your business in 2023.

    1. Make sure your (digital) customer experience excels

    When did you last evaluate your business through the eyes of your clients? 

    These days, many of your clients are likely to be accustomed to seamless, user-friendly customer experience – shopping on Amazon would be a prime example!

    While financial advice isn’t quite the same as shopping for everything under the sun, do your systems make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you?

    For example, what is your contract-signing process like? Do your clients have to print out a document to sign it and then scan it to be able to send it to you? Or are they able to electronically sign the document on their phone? 

    And it’s not just the task that they need completing but how they have to interact with it that also matters. Receiving an email asking them go to an outsourced website, or opening an attachment then having to download and save it are all onerous elements that detract from a good experience.

    However they might choose to engage with advice, clients expect some kind of technology element as a standard service proposition. So, if you haven’t already established digital services with smooth transitions for your clients, 2023 is the time to act. 

    2. Harness the power of technology

    No business can afford to ignore digital innovation and more and more advice firms are leading the way with ground-breaking innovations and partnerships. 

    So, in 2023, make sure you’re one of them.

    Technology should be woven into the fabric of your business and play an integral part in:

    • Attracting new clients
    • Servicing current clients better
    • Driving user engagement
    • Creating a stronger brand identity

    As well as improving customer experience, tech and digital solutions should also enable your business and the people within it to perform better and enjoy their roles more.

    Technology can help:

    • Reduce the time-consuming burden of regulation and paperwork
    • Reduce time spent on administrative tasks
    • Reduce time on more complex tasks like analysis, reviews and cashflow forecasting
    • Reduce internal costs

    And modern technology much more intuitive interfaces that are accessible and easy to use.

    3. Cultivate a great company culture

    Following the Covid pandemic, one of the biggest challenges for companies in the future will be maintaining their company culture in a remote or hybrid work environment. 

    According to research from HR consultancy Robert Half, 73% of employees left their job due to poor company culture. 

    More recently, people have been increasingly focused on ethical standards and ESG commitments:

    • 30% of workers said they would look for a new job unless ESG activity increased
    • 53% of people said they wouldn’t work for an employer they thought was unethical
    • 22% of 18-34-year-olds rate corporate values above salary.

    While there’s no right or wrong company culture, in general people value transparency, authenticity, and well-defined roles with clear job expectations.

    To future-proof your business, aim to foster a culture that embraces innovation and creates an environment where your employees feel that they’re free to contribute suggestions. 

    Remember, your employees may see things that you are unaware of. Whether they are dealing with customers or struggling with a workflow problem, your employees are often well-placed to recommend improvements. 

    Cultivating a culture that values their input will lead to better practices and, quite possibly, even new products or services.

    4. Take responsibility, not just for your business, but for the profession too

    It’s in everyone’s interest to make financial services an attractive profession, and it’s down to us to take positive steps to ensure the whole industry gets even better.

    By marking a shift from a rules-based regulatory approach to one based on outcomes, the FCA’s incoming Consumer Duty has the potential to change the way the industry is viewed by outsiders. 

    As a business leader focused on the future, as well as the present, you’re structuring your firm to meet standards of professionalism. By backing this up with the way you do business, you can do your bit to help endorse and improve the way people view the industry as a whole.

    Consider ways you can increase diversity and inclusivity and make sure you’re recruiting people with differing views or outlooks to bring greater strength to your team at all levels.

    5. Make your business sustainable and find ways to give back

    Taking a sustainable approach to business is right for the planet and our people. 

    Many clients increasingly expect the organisations that they choose to do business with to give something back to the community and beyond. Doing nothing may have been okay in the past, but if you keep delaying doing good, it won’t be long before it trips you up.

    One thing’s for sure – you’ll be judged if you continue to do nothing. So, take positive steps to demonstrate you’re doing your bit for the planet. 

    One simple way to do this is through an organisation who takes care of things for you. For example, Tree-Nation offers a complete set of tools to allow your business to plant trees to off-set carbon emissions or encourage brand loyalty. 

    A few moments of your time setting up something along these lines could help set you in the right direction. Plus, it’s a great way to demonstrate your values and open a new line of conversation with potential and existing clients.

    If you want to take things further, consider applying for B Corp accreditation. This can provide a useful framework for making substantial and significant steps to improve your business ethics and begin doing good on a wider scale.

    Are you ready for the future? 

    Future-proofing your business shouldn’t be a one-off occurrence. Undertaking a continual review will always stand you in the best light, seen and experienced those who had implemented sound processes and procedures well before the pandemic hit. So, if some other bizarre situation occurs will you be well prepared?

    Take the time to objectively evaluate what is required to ensure your company’s success and embrace decision-making that helps you meet your goals, and your employees perform to their highest level.

    Innovation through technology will put you on a great path to success.

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