Business families need advisers who can consistently deliver constructive, appropriate and effective outcomes. This requires the right attitudes, knowledge, experience and skills.
Unfortunately, most professional bodies and advisory firms promote discipline-centric, competitive attitudes. Over time, this conditions their people to work in professional silos, even within their own firms. The only exception may be where client needs clearly demand otherwise (eg: accountants must refer legal work to lawyers).
Clients want their advisers to be wholly client-centric, in actions and words, with their focus squarely on them and their practical issues. Technical perfection is assumed (as advertised), and does not form an influential part of their internal value proposition.
Advisers need to be useful, rather than just being present, or correct – unless they’re in therapy mode, in which case they should be all of the above.
Big picture challenges like family and business succession (as opposed to one-off transactions), are stuffed to the gills with human, technical AND commercial issues. It takes genuinely collaborative teamwork, from complementary professionals, to provide balanced and comprehensive advice that addresses the full range of issues.
This combination of human, technical and commercial knowledge and skills requires us to re-imagine what being a professional adviser is all about. It’s no longer good enough to be an expert in a single discipline, where you only see and respond to part of the picture. Every client, and especially family business clients, need more.
Expert computer systems (artificial intelligence) and global outsourcing will replace more than 70% of current professional practice work (and revenues), within 10 years. Many jobs are already disappearing.
Darwin warned that the inevitable consequence of failing to adapt to major change is eventual extinction. If this view is correct, professional advisers need to quickly get much better at doing 2 things:
(1) Front End Work: diagnostic and empathising skills – building much deeper relationships with clients to facilitate more comprehensive diagnoses of real needs and,
(2) Back End Work: execution skills – helping to implement the advice generated by the expert systems and outsourced services that replaced the 70% of manually processed work that used to form the bulk of their practices.
The advisory main game, now and for the foreseeable future, lies in the front end inputs (diagnostics) and back end outputs (execution). That’s what FBI Accreditation Training is all about, directed towards the needs of the family business sector. If you’re trained and successful there, you can work anywhere, with almost any type of client.
- Initial application. Includes assessments of qualifications, experience, emotional sensitivity and personality type.
- Personal Mentor allocated from FBI Faculty. Individual Learning Program developed in consultation with adviser member, FBI mentor and home turf support person.
- Accreditation Training – 12 days of formal, in person training, usually completed within a year. Active assessment of performance during training by faculty members.
- FBI Network Meetings – reasonable level of active engagement in network activities and/or alternative forms of engagement if required (eg: international members).
- FBI adviser community – reasonable level of active engagement in the adviser community. Note: this is where most referrals and collaborations will arise.
- Supervised practice – minimum of 18 months interactive discussion over cases with assigned mentor.
- Satisfactory performance on all levels >>>> accreditation.
FBI accreditation requires demonstrated competence in specific areas of practice relevant to each individual.
Whatever an individual member’s professional predilections may be, all FBI advisers are required to have high levels of awareness and sensitivity to both the human and commercial / technical issues present in most family business assignments.
Our ultimate competency requirement is the ability to put clients’ interests before personal and professional interests, and to be able to collaborate effectively with complementary professionals. This is assessed through interactions, mentoring, client feedback and through other channels.
For most advisers, the above competencies will be developed, demonstrated, assessed and approved through 18 months of supervised practice under the watchful eye, support and tuition of an assigned mentor.
Subject always to maintaining client confidentiality, the supervision process may include some or all of: on the job observations; assignment planning; correspondence and document reviews; de-brief and feedback meetings (one-on-one and larger groups); and hypothetical process / situational challenges.
Since demonstrated attitude and competence are key determinants of accreditation, we’re quite relaxed about each individual’s accreditation pathway. We recognise that some advisers will join us with enormous amounts of relevant knowledge, skill and experience and we’ll happily take that into account in their accreditation process. We will walk our own talk to ensure that FBI remains an adviser-led professional organisation, rather than an academic or administrative bureaucracy.
Assessments are undertaken by FBI’s Accreditation Panel – comprising 3 Faculty members.
Each accreditation process comprises a review of an individual candidate’s:
- Application for Accreditation.
- Training record and performance.
- Relevant professional and advisory experience.
- Supervised practice outcomes (mentor feedback).
- Satisfactory feedback from at least 3 family business clients serviced within 3 years of applying for Accreditation.
- Constructive involvement in the FBI adviser community.
- Good professional reputation amongst the candidate’s peers and wider community.
Continuing Education (CPD)
Advisory skills and Accreditation are maintained by:
- Continuing successful advisory work (via colleagues and client feedback).
- At least 2 days attendance each year at relevant educational events (not limited to FBI activities).
- Reasonably active engagement in the FBI adviser community through meetings and other activities.