We’ve all heard the term 'competitive edge’, but what does it really mean in the context of financial advisory services?
Evolve Business Advisory, the Australian-based services company, is a real-world example of what it takes to achieve a competitive edge, and how a financial services partner can help small and medium businesses (SMBs) achieve genuine success and profit growth.
To stand out from the crowd, Evolve approaches every client commitment as a partnership, working directly with the business to improve their bottom line.
While big businesses have easy access to top tier advisors, SMBs, Evolve’s primary client base, may not have in-house resources or the funds to pay out of pocket for big names and high flyers. With decades of experience in running business from $1 million to $1 billion, the Evolve team have direct and deep experience in how to improve profits and realise long-term success, and bring this to SMBs without the hefty price tag.
In addition to sharing top-tier advice that’s grounded in real-world experience, Evolve is focused on outcomes, and is often paid out of the improved profit margin.
“We understand a strategy alone (even a great one) does not make money. Relentless discipline in executing it does. Because our remuneration is usually linked to the financial outcomes, we are partners for the whole journey including the all-important execution.”
Evolve has chosen the solutions of Spotlight Reporting to bring data to life in a powerful and visually engaging way. This enables the first meeting with a client right through to regular interactions.
When engaging with a client for the first time, Evolve will complete a business health check and present the findings to the client. As Guy says, "One of the biggest challenges is to get the client to ‘see’ an impending problem or opportunity. Most people are much more visual than numerate and can see a trend on a graph or a dial much more easily than by looking at the same trend in a spreadsheet. The deeper into the financials we go (cashflows, balance sheet) the more this is true.”
As such, being able to deliver research findings in a clear presentation, complete with informative infographics, is imperative for Evolve. While the company initially trialled several tools, Spotlight Reporting won out, as it offered Evolve the ability to display not only presentations but dashboards, reports, forecasts and budgets.
With a keen focus on going beyond advice to boost profit, Guy says 75% of client wins are by improving many small things. For example, in a $5 million business, 2% improvement in sales, 2% improvement in gross margins, and 2% improvement in costs creates a total improvement of around $300,000. Spotlight Reporting’s solutions enable this vision by highlighting opportunities visually, and sharing how this equates to monthly progress.
One customer win that stands out for Evolve is when the firm was able to turn a 15% loss into a 10% profit. They did this by writing custom reports in Spotlight that revealed that some work of the client was doing was very profitable, with a 50% win rate, low cost to serve, and established market presence, and another area was very unprofitable, with 4% win rate, high cost to serve, many people employed for work that never came through, and a high cost of advertising. To break down the reality of the situation enabled the business to make necessary changes, and turn loss into profit.
On the future of financial advisory services and the accounting industry, and the role of solutions such as Spotlight Reporting, Guy says, “Our business was set up to be an advisory service and as such one of our core beliefs is that we need to help our clients see their business more clearly. In our opinion the way of the future is to help clients become dynamically more profitable and to share in that success, as opposed to charging an hourly rate for services that may or may not add value.”
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