If you want to grow your business faster and have more fun while you do it, then it’s vital to consider hiring a practice manager.

    After 15 years of consulting to financial planning businesses, I’d go so far as to say it’s the most important hire you’ll ever make.

    I've long been an advocate of the practice manager role.

    I used to say that when firms reached a turnover level of between £600,000 and £800,000 a year they needed to consider hiring a full-time practice manager.

    Some firms used to freak out a bit about that, thinking they might struggle to afford the cost of such a key hire.

    I think many business owners believed they could still handle the business management stuff for a little while beyond that level (they can’t by the way).

    However, I’ve seen a major shift in the marketplace.

    Forward-thinking advisers looking to grow their businesses are hiring a full-time manager when they reach as little as £300,000 of revenue.

    It might be the second or third person they bring on board. That’s a big change from even five years ago.

    I also happen to think it’s the right approach, as this conversation I had with Dominika Sieradzka of RIE Solutions goes to show.

    So what does a practice manager do? 

    The truth is they take away a lot of the day-to-day ‘management stuff’ that owner/advisers just don’t usually want to do, or the stuff they don’t have time to do properly, even if it does interest them.

    There are six key areas that tend to be picked up by a manager:

    1. Integration

    Taking the vision that has been created by the owner/s of the business, and making it happen in practice.

    That’s an overarching role that sees them involved in the next five areas below.

    2. Processes and procedures

    Reviewing business policies, processes, procedures and internal service standards on an ongoing basis to ensure client satisfaction, profitability and efficiency.

    3. Human resources 

    Hiring/firing, training and developing the team to best achieve the business’ goals.

    4. Compliance and finance

    Overseeing the compliance and finance functions.

    5. IT

    Making sure that all IT is fit for purpose, improving efficiency and creating a great client experience.

    6. Marketing

    Overseeing and managing the marketing efforts of the firm.

    The practice manager’s role is to make sure all of these areas are well managed and on-track.

    They need not be experts in all of these. In the last three areas, they may lean heavily on external consultants or suppliers, just like you do.

    Their job is to make sure things that need to be done get done.

    That might mean arranging meetings between various owners, team members and external suppliers from time to time.

    You as the owner will still be heavily involved in decision-making, you just won’t need to be involved in follow-through and project management.

    That usually leads to a massive time saving, not to mention a much better final outcome for the business.

    And before you ask, yes, it is a full-time role.

    Some business owners believe that because they split their time between advising and managing that perhaps it’s not a full-time position.

    Yet I believe that most owner/advisers who split their time end up doing a sub-optimal job as both a manager and adviser.

    Just ask yourself, if you could delegate a lot of this ‘management stuff’ and free up some time, how much more productive could you be as an adviser?

    How much more business might you be able to generate? It’s usually a pretty big number.

    You could also look at the reverse of your situation.

    You’re first and foremost a great adviser who has ended up having to do some managing on the side.

    Yet you’d never hire a manager and ask them to do some advising on the side, would you? How effective do you think they’d be?

    So don’t do it to yourself. Focus on your core skill and hire a great practice manager to do what they do best.

    Let me know how you go.

    You can download Brett's free Business Resilience Improvement Pack herecontaining a package of actionable articles and videos on how to make your business better in a challenging market

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