Preparing for the busy season
Author: Albina Zhdanova
Everyone knows that strategic planning, process optimisation, and performance reviews are essential for the long-term success of a brokerage and hedge fund. Yet, operating in this high-paced industry, we all struggle to keep up and deal with the constant flow of incoming requests, tasks, and issues.
As we are now in what is known as the slowest month of the year, it is the perfect time to slow down a bit and get your company ready for the upcoming craziness of the busy season.
In today’s article, we will share some tips and recommendations to help you enter the last quarter stronger and more prepared for anything coming your way. At TFB, we regularly practice what we preach, and it helps us maintain growth and keep it sustainable. We hope you will find this advice useful too.
If you are anything like us, you constantly engage in new projects and initiatives. There are so many projects, big and small, that are exciting and have great potential.
However, as things add up, you might lose track of some of them and miss out on opportunities or obstacles. In order to keep all your projects healthy and growing, conduct a review of each of them and pay attention to the following:
- Timeline and milestones: are you on track? If not, what is causing the delay?
- How is the project team doing: is there enough staff assigned to the project? or maybe there are too many people working on it, and some of them could be reallocated to other initiatives.
- It’s important to make sure your team is not burned out or unmotivated, and if they are, work with them one-on-one to identify what’s causing their dissatisfaction and determine how it can be fixed.
- Competition: have your competitors caught up with you? Maybe they’ve released a tool or feature you need to incorporate into your product too.
- Market: it could be that your customers’ requirements have evolved and you need to accommodate that. Reevaluate your priorities and check what's most important to finish by the end of the year.
Lastly, see if the project still makes sense for the company. There’s no single formula to identify that, but see if it aligns with the company's vision and goals and if it has good revenue potential.
Catch up with the team
We’ve already briefly touched upon the team’s wellness in the previous point, but team management deserves to be addressed on its own.
Your employees are what keeps your company up and running. No liquidity bridge, technology, or USP alone can keep your business thriving, so the team’s health should always be the ultimate priority.
If you don’t do it regularly, make sure you schedule one-on-one meetings with everyone to catch up and see how they’re doing. Here is what you can discuss at those meetings:
- Employee’s current performance.
- Personal work goals and targets.
- Career expectations and plans.
- Personal chat about their life, hobbies, etc.
- Inter-team relationships and collaboration.
- Employee’s view on the company’s goals and plans.
Schedule a larger team meeting, and make sure you cover:
- Company’s news and updates.
- Company strategy, goals and current metrics.
- Q&A session.
August is also a great time for team building. Host outside gatherings if your team works in the same location, or run an online party with games and entertainment, such as online quizzes.
Tip: online team building can feel less engaging or valuable, so you can spice it up with a delivery of goodies, including merch and snacks, to get everyone in the mood.
Workflow optimisation should ideally become a part of your quarterly routine.
Just like with decluttering at home, there is always something you can improve, automate, or discard in your work processes. Here is what you can do to remove everything that doesn’t hold value:
- Talk to the team and ask for their opinions. As a manager, you don’t get involved in routine tasks as much as your subordinates, so they are likely to share invaluable insight on what can be done better or differently.
- Make it known that any team member can come to you with their optimisation ideas if and when they have them.
- Identify processes that are manual and/or require a lot of time. Then ask around and search for solutions that could automate those processes.
- Check your fixed costs. Perhaps you are still paying the subscription fee for the service you used on a 2-month-long project a year ago. It’s surprising how many services even small companies can be subscribed to without realising it. Cutting unnecessary spending can lead to substantial cost reductions.
Check your strategy
The company’s strategy is usually discussed early in the year. And in August, eight months later, it might be that the original plans no longer have relevance and should be revisited.
Changing the strategy four months before the end of the year can seem like a lot, but it’s still one-third of the year, and plenty can be done within that time frame. It’s best if this time is used for something that will benefit the business the most.
And even if your strategy does not require alterations, it’s good to see how you are doing now and not at the end of December when your opportunity to catch up and achieve goals will be much more limited.
Go through each goal and see:
- Are you on track to achieving it?
- Are there any roadblocks that should be removed?
- Can you do something to accelerate the progress?
Reviewing how your business is progressing is intimidating and exciting all at the same time. No matter how busy you are, we strongly recommend allocating time for analysing it at least once a year, in addition to the traditional end-of-year review.
The finance industry is already a tricky place to navigate, so the better prepared you are, the more rewards you will be able to reap.
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