Veteran finance broker and mentor Nancy Youssef has spoken about the huge uncertainty her industry has faced post-banking royal commission, and how she believes such uncertainty can be used as an opportunity for business growth.
Ms Youssef, founder of Classic Finance and author of Fear Money Purpose, explained that Australia’s brokers and those training to do so were hit for six when the royal commission handed down its recommendations in February this year, including the abolition of trail commissions — the primary source of income for brokers, who typically do not charge clients directly for their services.
“As a mentor, I was getting calls that week [with people asking], ‘Are we in the right game? Are we going to have an industry? We’ve just started’,” she recalled while speaking on an episode of the My Business Podcast.
“Some had only started the month before, others were halfway through, and some of them were about to graduate from a two-year investment into starting their own business.
“So, when we’re talking about fear, there was not only fear with start-ups and people I was mentoring, but general industry fear.”
And the timing of these findings couldn’t have come at a worse time for her personally either, she explained.
“The day I went to hit print on the book was the day of the release of the royal commission recommendations,” Ms Youssef said.
“I literally had to put pause on it, go back and actually insert. I had to wait a couple of weeks to see what the general watch of these recommendations was going to be.
“And I thought the irony of a situation where I’ve written a book about fear is that, right now, we’re in a landscape of huge fear and huge uncertainty.”
All industries subject to uncertainty
According to Ms Youssef, this experience offers some great lessons for business leaders across all industries about coping with widespread change and uncertainty.
“It doesn’t matter what industry we’re in; when you’re in business, you’re going to be subjected to macro changes, as we call it, and micro changes,” she said.
“And I think micro changes we can control within our business, but things like government regulation, or a royal commission, are certainly things we can’t control. But what we can do is control our reaction and our action into how we’re going to propel our businesses into the future.”
Harnessing uncertainty as an opportunity
While broad and industry-wide uncertainty can be hugely confronting, Ms Youssef said it also offers opportunity for positive change.
“Certainly as a business owner, and a lot of the advice I’ve been giving not just to my mentees but colleagues, is this: This is the time now to maybe audit your business and look at areas that you can refresh it. It could be an opportunity for you to recognise what you’re really good at and start to channel more of your energy into what you’re good at that’s going to add value to your business,” she said.
“So getting more professional development or education. Looking at things like, ‘If I’m only offering one service, what are other revenue streams [can I] create within the business? Or is there an opportunity for diversifying?’
“So, not only professional development, not only training, not only looking at the marketing that we’re doing, but another big opportunity for a lot of business owners is, how often are you actually staying in touch with your clients? Because there’s such a goldmine in your own database, and what are you actually doing is to look at what opportunities exist there, and the kinds of marketing, and things that you’re doing, and staying in touch, mainly from a retention perspective.”
Ms Youssef concluded: “That’s why I believe that fear is actually healthy, because... that fear sometimes forces you and creates change. Without fear, you could very much be in the comfort zone doing what you do week in, week out, month in, month out.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.