Gap Analysis in Conjunction with your Goals
This is part 2 in a 6 part series
Where are you going?
Before you set out to find the right people to build your practice, you need to know where you’re going. This needs to be articulated clearly when you’re meeting prospective employees. People buy into your vision. They want to be part of something. They want to see how your vision and theirs align.
- What are the goals of your firm?
- Your average Partner revenue is currently $1.5M per annum – where do you see that growing to?
- How is that composed? What’s the split between compliance and advisory?
- What areas are you seeking to develop over the next 12 months?
- Are you seeking to grow the fee base or consolidating and create efficiencies in the practice?
- Are you looking to increase the amount of advisory work completed?
You don’t need to aspire to take over the world. You don’t need to be chasing work with the biggest companies around. What you need is to be true to who you are and where you’re going.
Clearly defined goals will attract people who buy into your vision
People seek a change because they aren’t feeling congruence between their goals and the firm’s. They don’t feel as though they are part of the overall vision and subsequently feel dissociated. How will you clearly articulate the direction of your practice to this person?
When looking at the goals for your future, you should take into consideration:
- Client archetype (industry, size (turnover), type of work, location, typical fees, and complexity)
- Targets for 2017 (growing or consolidating, developing existing client relationships or building new ones, team growth, increase in advisory work, and implementation of tech)
- Targets for 2020-2022 (whilst this wouldn’t be set in stone, it’s good to have an understanding of where you’re looking to go)
Understanding the direction you want to move in will offer you the opportunity to undertake a thorough gap analysis of your firm. What are the capabilities of your team?
As highlighted in the introduction, a professional services firm wins work on the perceived capability to complete engagements. You need the right people with the right skills in order to be able to complete these engagements.
Do your people have the skills to complete the engagements you’re undertaking?
If you are seeking a fifty percent increase in advisory work, who will do this? If you win another $100k, $200k, or $300k in fees, how will that be distributed through the team? What does the current fee distribution look like? Do you have the people in place to support your targets?
Theoretically, you have the headcount to support your growth targets. You’re currently turning over $5M in fees and if you account for everyone reaching their productivity targets, there’s the capacity to complete $7M worth of work. But can they do it?
To give you an example, we are working with a four Partner firm where the Partners have a real desire to grow. They have a strong brand, good clients, and the opportunity to do a lot of advisory work. Can the senior staff complete these engagements? Yes. Do they have access to the clients to win these engagements? Yes. Can they identify the buying signs and convert a client? No.
The skills gap here is the business development facet of their senior staff. There’s a range of reasons why this exists: willingness to broach the topic with the client, inability to see beyond the numbers and the client’s goals, understanding buying signs etc. They’re technically excellent; strong operators who, if given a complex file, will get right through it. This is ok. This is perfectly fine because they do well at what they do.
If the Partners are relying on these people to find an extra couple of hundred thousand in advisory fees, that’s probably not happening. What do we do? There’s training, or we can look at bringing in someone with a strong business development focus.
Is there a disconnect between what you are expecting and what your team can deliver?
There are some people out there who love working on high-end strategy with clients and converting them. To them, finding opportunities within clients, understanding their needs at a strategic level, and winning special work is nirvana. But if you bring in someone like that and expect them to ‘do basic compliance work to cover their costs’ their flame will be doused and you’ll have yet another disengaged employee in no time.
Where are the gaps in your firm? What areas can you upskill people in, and what areas will require new people altogether? The gaps in your firm may not even be externally facing; they may be able to assist with internal gaps i.e. technology, operations, HR, or marketing. Look at the gaps that you have internally and look at what options there are to fill those.
Understanding the skills gap and finding someone who buys into the vision of your firm is only the tip of the iceberg. This takes a fair bit of time with the org chart and independently interviewing individuals to understand where they see their strengths and weaknesses.
We still need to look at the importance of culture and your employer value proposition and understanding the difference between a person description and position description. From there, once we’ve formulated an avatar of our ideal people, we can start to work on strategies to bring them across.