Innovation, even in advisory world. Claudio Ceradini at the GGI European Conference
What advisors should think about, in Italy but not only, is something new.
The focus of almost all advisory companies, even if big and competitive, has always been on services they were skilled on. A kind of product oriented (or I would say service oriented) approach, assuming the market is able to understand how and when those services could be useful or not. This assumption is for sure appropriate for big companies, well organized and based on professional and efficient managing direction. Strategies and business developing path is in these circumstances under control and companies clearly know when and what kind of professional services are needed.
By the way, this situation is not peculiar, and big companies are not a significant part of the Italian, and I would say south European, business and economic system. A big part of operators are medium and small companies, family based and depending from owners entrepreneurial skills. Since small companies are often grown up personal businesses, managed with great and deep technical knowledge, but just essential strategic sensitivity and financial experience, what modern advisors are doing is to modify their approach, from services oriented to client and problem solving oriented. It is a huge modification of the way advisors are used to think about their job, less talented and instinctive, and much more managerial and organized, with internal structure and functions, and costs and efficiency control IT systems. Even different professional skills begin to be included in the same advisory company, as they are useful to fit customers needs and to improve solutions. Sometimes happens that engineers or marketing experts become part of a law and tax firm, since they are part of the professional teams working on solutions, more than on single and particular services. This is the only way to create value for customers which doesn’t ask for a due diligence, or a merger, or a legal advise, but a support on a project. What we need today is to be able to support a customer who asks you for example how to reduce supply chain, what business model to be used, or technical plant solution to select. Financial support end legal solutions come just after, when the project globally seems to make sense. It doesn’t matter what skills or professionals are needed, but just a reliable answer to a reasonable price. All these circumstances request marketing, strategic, technical skills to work together, and to pick them up outside the company just when needed is often not enough, because team-thinking is not an attitude easy to be found and improved.
On the other hand, customers need day by day support from a tax and legal view. Accountancy, tax returns, daily legal fulfilments, applications and assistance are part of the support that small companies absolutely need, to avoid expensive mistakes. This activity is not easy, needs continuous legal update and consistent skill, but doesn’t create immediate and broad value. What is expected is an increasing level of support and decreasing fees, so that only a high efficiency level can keep profits on a reasonable level.
What advisory companies needs in Italy is, finally, to increase dimension and managing attitude. Dimension makes investments in innovation and communication possible, and creates specialized skills, needed to answer customers requests. Managing attitude creates efficiency and rules, to have a competitive machine in place. It is an awesome opportunity for the future, together with an exiting challenge.
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