The changing licensee landscape presents a range of options from self-licensing, boutique, mid and large-tier options, all with their pros and cons. For many, this decision is one that they want to stand the test of time. It is not a disruption that you want to linger in your business.
Often the decision to change licensee has been heavily deliberated over a long time. Sometimes decisions need to be made in an instant, following licensee upheaval, or personal disruption. However, for most, these decisions hang heavily in a practice for some time, causing continued uncertainty and distraction.
Whatever option you choose, there is a misconception that the main deciding factor for choosing a licensee is always price. Advice practice principals know better than anyone, that value should always come before price. Sometimes choosing the cheapest option can be a false economy. You will often lose in other areas such as lost productivity, as you lack the support you need to thrive. But exactly how best to assess that value as it relates to you and your business, can prove challenging.
Rather than licensee fees being the primary deciding factor in choosing a licensee, often increased fees at your current licensee, can create the impetus to start evaluating your options. Skyrocketing operational costs can be the driver for many to make the change. That was the case for Kellie Tesolin, practice principal at RetireStrong, based in Brisbane, Qld. Kellie joined the Lifespan Financial Planning community back in July 2021.
“The licensee that I was previously with significantly increased their fees. They had frozen their fees for three years, …, but then the new fee structures came out and they were nearly three times the price. For a single operator, single adviser practice you had to look at other options because it wasn’t viable to continue…” (under their new fee structure).
However, despite high fees being the driver in Kellie deciding to look for a new licensee, it wasn’t the primary factor in deciding which licensee was the best fit for her practice.
Kellie had in-depth conversations with a range of people, including other advisers and contacts that she had within several financial planning practices.
“I talked to other advisers. My previous boss actually moved to Lifespan about 18 months previously. I asked him and I asked other people who’d moved to other licensees and heard how their experience had gone. I’d also spoken to the paraplanner I used to work with, which was important because I’m a small business. I do a lot of the admin work myself. So, I wanted to hear what they thought of licensee support and the feedback I received about Lifespan was all positive.”
The value of being a part of a tight-knit community should also never be underestimated. After all, most small business operators want to be a part of something bigger. A place to connect and share ideas and insights with like-minded advisers. For Kellie, this was a critical consideration in her decision-making.
“Lifespan is approachable and very supportive and helpful. That’s what I was looking for. I wanted a culture that is friendly, and the opportunity to do things face-to-face. Where I came from, there weren’t any face-to-face conferences or Professional Development Days. When I saw Lifespan was doing a face-to-face conference this year and they’ve been doing PD days, face-to-face I thought that was really good for the culture, and being able to network with other advisers would be great.”
It is important not to underestimate the value of a responsive and empathetic practice development manager through this process. To make a well-considered decision, you need to have all of the information at hand and feel well supported to make the transition. If someone is not providing you with what you need through the research process, it is a fair indication that the support on offer might not be what you are looking for. This is something that was at the heart of Kellie’s decision to choose Lifespan. Discussing the support she had received from her local QLD Practice Development Manager, Kevin Mayne, Kellie emphasised “Kevin made it so easy for me, and was a big factor in choosing Lifespan.”
If you would like to find out more about our tight-knit advice community, or simply have a confidential discussion about whether Lifespan might be the right fit for your business, please get in touch with our National Practice Development Managers.