How times are a-changing
It used to be so simple in the past. You were able to create a business, follow the rules of development and advancement set by others, and go about it slowly and without a lot of worries.
Today, however, the situation is far different. The times have changed so much that you run the risk of becoming obsolete if you don’t improve, innovate, go faster, deliver better than your competitors. You’ll never be a leading disruptor if you sit on the sidelines and wait.
There’s no doubt about it – the market is changing in many industries across Australia. Premium firms are slowly but surely losing work to specialist providers, self-help apps or others who are diversifying. And the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
Some may say that they are losing their market share because they charge high fees. Others may say they have deep expertise and are specialising so there is not as much work. What they may not realise is that they are being outsmarted instead. In an article in the Australian Financial Review on 5 April 2019, Joel Barolsky looked at why Australian law firms have experienced a downward trajectory for the past ten years. Here is what he found:
- There has been a 59% increase in the number of in-house lawyers in Australia between 2011 and 2016. So, instead of hiring a legal firm, many are resorting to building their own legal teams. When prices are high, it can mean this is a more cost-effective alternative, and when business is complex, an deep understanding of their business is beneficial to the advisor.
- Australia also saw a rise in the number and success of alternative service providers. This includes players like accountants fulfilling the role of advisor on regulatory work, as well as apps and software.
- It seems that regular firms instead of premium ones are doing a lot of the work. As experts are saying – premium firms are losing the battle of being the primary services clients opt for.
So, it doesn’t seem that the work is drying up. It seems that clients are going elsewhere. In any market where prices are higher, it is natural to look for cost effective alternatives.
What can you do in such a market?
There are several things that your firm should do to survive and thrive in such a changing market.
First of all, you need to pay more attention to client relationships. They are far more critical than you think, and a lot more work needs to be done when it comes to client maintenance and getting repeat business, as well as keeping an ear to the ground regarding clients looking for better value or alternatives. Now, never omit the importance of understanding your whole client. That means that you can’t only focus on their requirement for high-level services, but on the other needs, they have as well. You have to differentiate yourself from new technologies and get your referrals working.
All in all, there’s a lot you need to do to survive in the changing market. It doesn’t matter if you offer low-level or high-level services – the key is to stand out and make a difference. Separate yourself from the competition and never cease to improve, change, differentiate, and adapt to your client needs – that’s the only way to survive and thrive.