I recently met the highly impressive Helen Darke, a woman of many talents which include but are not limited to; journalism, communications, change and marketing. Most recently Helen has been within a large remediation program in a reputable financial services organisation. As one of the many people in transformation that has been working to rewrite financial services wrongs (or tipex them) Helen has written some of her findings ahead of Monday's Hayne Royal Commission report release.
Those of us who know even a little about the world of financial advisers, know that constant change that is causing pain.
The Hayne Royal Commission Report, due to be delivered to Government tomorrow - Friday, 1 Feb and expected to be released to the public on Monday, 4 Feb - is likely to bring a degree of certainty and a wave of change that may well be a tsunami.
The challenge is how organisations and licensees equip to support change and how prepared they are to invest in unpacking issues and truly solving the problems for good. There is no doubt that Australians need quality financial advice to help them through the increasing complexity of superannuation and managing money. It’s just that the industry is likely to look different in the next few years and how smoothly we make that transition is what matters.
One thing is certain. The old school process-driven template and ‘stick to your swim lane’ approach to change isn’t going to cut it. Communicating a one-size-fits-all message via a weekly or monthly e-newsletter is also unlikely to work. Why? Because it isn’t working now. If regulatory change programs had been effective, compliance would be well understood, advisers would have adopted new ways of working and it wouldn’t be an ongoing problem.
So how do we change how change is delivered?
- Start with empathy and understanding. As change managers we need to look at the big picture to understand what’s going on in the adviser’s world. How are clients reacting? Are they leaving? How is change impacting advisers emotionally and financially? Is their business under threat? Do they see a future and understand the plan to get there? What’s their capacity to deal with more change? What support will they need and how likely are they to get it?
- Recognise not all advisers are the same and plan for it. Target what you do. Develop a segmented approach to delivering change and build personas that represent each group. Personalise messaging by addressing them by their name and lead with a message that will reasonate. Send messages about important strategic decisions from leaders and follow up with other activity.
- Join the dots. Build a view of the adviser experience and manage it. Understand what each adviser is being asked to do, by whom and when. Consider the impact of cumulative change and the truth in, ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Be brave enough to lift up and ask if this level of activity is realistic in the timeframe - while seeing clients and running a business? Use a CRM to understand what’s going on for each adviser – across the whole business – not just your project or program.
- Track engagement. Deliver communication via a tool that integrates with your CRM. This will give you a record of what’s been sent, when. It will also report whether the adviser or staff member opened the email and read it. You’ll know if they sign up for a webinar/ seminar/ PD day/ event or to do training and you’ll see the cumulative impacts of change. BTW - If a person isn’t opening email communication and they’re responsible for cascading info to their team, you can be pretty sure it’s not going to happen.
- Take up the challenge and be strategic: Yes, joining the dots to understand the adviser experience is complicated. It requires commitment and cooperation across projects and businesses – challenging teams to think wide and, God forbid, outside the scope of their project! It’s not how project teams think, work and calibrate what success looks like. It will take change managers who are strategic leaders and this means thinking differently and applying new skills and technology that are probably being used in other parts of the business today.
Why is this important? Because with multiple projects running concurrently and significant change being delivered to the same people - by the same support staff – it’s time for change to step up and change.
Tim Creasey, a recognized leader in change management and Prosci Chief Innovation Officer, has written an interesting piece on the need for change. His work forms the foundation of a large body of knowledge about managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.
About Helen: Close to five years ago Helen made a career change. Her journey from journalism to public awareness campaigns, brand strategy and PR to communication and marketing led a natural course to the world of change and communication.