Whilst we do have a beach in our office, the budget doesn’t quite stretch to a tepee. However, there are some ways in which we can channel the essence of the Powwows. It’s quite early to measure success, but the early signs are good. I think we should be open to trying new ideas, ways of working, and learning from other professions. They might not all work, but if we don’t try we will never know!
Here are some of the things I’m trying out with our Paraplanners, but they could work in any team. If you decide to give them a go, I’d be interested to hear how they went for you.
1) Bring and share
At EQ Investors our Paraplanners work in ‘pods’ with a few advisers and administrators. Effectively we get the benefit of a small firm feel within the scale of a larger firm. People in our pods sit closely together so that client cases can be discussed. New ideas can be explored across the desks and we can passively learn as we absorb what’s going on around us. However, this doesn’t happen as naturally between pods unless you create a place for it to happen.
So, each time we meet, a different Paraplanner will volunteer to share a case or experience that they have learnt from or they feel others can learn from. We agree who will share at the previous meeting so there’s a couple of weeks to prepare. At our last meeting the Paraplanner shared about a technically challenging case and what they had learned about working effectively with their adviser. The relational aspect of Paraplanning can be challenging, but it is also hugely rewarding.
2) The team sets the agenda
I’ve set out a general framework for our meetings so that it’s not a free for all. I’ll share briefly how we are doing and any problems. If there’s something relevant going on in the business, we’ll look at it. This doesn’t take long, and the rest of the meeting agenda is set by the team in advance.
At the beginning of the year we brainstormed some of the technical topics we thought would be good to discuss. One of us, or an expert from elsewhere in the business, will give some input and facilitate a discussion on one of these topics. I’ve ‘agreed’ to talk through a manual CGT calculation at our next meeting! We’ll then have the bring and share case and pick up any other pressing matters.
3) Fixing things
Just like your businesses, we are always looking to improve, become more efficient and provide an even better service to our clients. When the six of us get together we all have different perspectives on how things are going. Each pod has a slightly different mix of personalities and ways of thinking. Together we can identify issues and propose solutions. The combined voices speak much louder together and ensure that we are all pushing in the same direction.