Ramble On: Recognizing the Need for Change in Your Business

Advances in FinTech, changes in regulation, and a continuing evolution of how investments are bringing (unprecedented?) change the financial services world—offer both challenges as well as opportunities. One thing certainty in all this—firms that incorporate and take advantage of this change will thrive, and the rest will stagnate and die.

When I started Gate 39 Media over 15 years ago, email marketing was the buzz, Facebook was a college project, mobile devices were Palm Pilots and Blackberries, and the cloud was—well, literally a cloud. Here are my three keys to recognizing, adapting to, and making change that have helped us grow over the years.

You Need to Be the Change…

“When I first started, things we’re so much simpler…”, “I used to just call a prospect and have a conversation…”, “Processing paper documents was so much easier…”, these are just a few of the expressions of lament I hear at industry conferences and in conversations with clients.

Get over it. Change has always been a constant, but in a fully connected world, it occurs at a faster pace. Whether it’s new financial products, the FinTech movement, outside markets, regulation, or the world in general—change will always play a factor, and adapting to this change is vital to your business and your career.

Recognizing the need to change and having the mindset and commitment to do so is vital to your success. Not only that, if you don’t get it right away, try it again. I’ve taken on various initiatives within the business, with some taking off, and others requiring multiple takes or simply determining that it was the wrong thing for the business.

Deciding on Change

Now that you have committed to making changes, review what effects change has had on your business. Is it new tools and technology, changes in products and services, more competition?

Have your customer’s needs changed? Are they older/younger, looking for different solutions, are they more self-service relying on software, websites and apps. Has their decision-making process or their desire to be (more) involved changed?

How do you reach both existing and new customers? Are you experiencing turn-over in existing clients, not filling the pipeline with new ones, are your competitors more visible than you are?

Once you’ve given questions like this some thought, decide what to change. Is adding new products and services important (to your clients and to your bottom line)? Do you need to change or even start marketing? Should you make changes to how you implement your services, perhaps adapting new tools? Do you need to make changes to your staff to adapt to today’s world?

Type these your questions, answers and thoughts out so you can track your ideas and review your thoughts with key individuals on your team. This will help you identify core areas of change, and define solutions to implement.

Implementing Change

Now you’re fired up. You’re ready to turn it up to “11”. You have the mindset, and you have a direction. The last piece is implementing your change. But hold up. Change doesn’t work without a plan. Yes–it’s more work, and few people enjoy writing out the details of a plan, but without doing so your team won’t be on the same page you are. Heck, without writing it down I know I would forget my own plan—especially after a few days of being buried in “regular” work and then coming back to my plan for change. So, write it out.

Take your written plan, and review it with your key team members. Make sure everyone is onboard and understands why the change is necessary, and that all are committed to carrying out the change. You will also need to be committed to change. Sure there will be waves where it peaks and ebbs, but be committed to the process and ensure that it lives and that you manage its implementation fully.

Change is a Constant

These are questions we hear financial services business owners and management teams asking us constantly. In response, we’ve had to evolve our services so we can provide firms with answers—changing ourselves just as our clients have. We’ve also made change part of our ongoing processes. Making us more efficient and allowing us to serve our clients better, while finding time to experiment with innovative technologies and marketing techniques.