Article June 17, 2020

SWOT analysis of your practice

Carine Monge, LL.L, LL.B, MBA, Director of operations, Corporation de services du Barreau du Québec


In the previous article, we saw how to apply the matrix developed by strategist Alexandre Osterwalder and professor Yves Pigneur: the Business Model Canvas.

This matrix, or template, can help you present and manage your practice as an advisor in light of a transfer (or for other reasons).

By completing this exercise, you will uncover the strong points and weak points of your practice and, possibly, identify opportunities for growth and threats to monitor. You can record what you have discovered using an important management tool known as SWOT analysis.

It’s a four-part graphic similar to the one shown here: 

S (strengths): what are our best resources?
W (weaknesses): what can we do better?
O (opportunities): what things have we not used yet?
T (threats): what changes could harm us?

Input your “discoveries” in each quadrant, using a “Value with regard to Cost/Time” matrix. For example, if your CRM allows you to offer high-quality service to your clients, the term CRM should be placed in the upper left area of the blue quadrant. In contrast, if you note that your compliance level needs to be improved, the word “compliance” should be placed in the upper right of the red quadrant.

Let’s be honest: the perfect professional practice doesn’t exist. There is often room for improvement. Since we can’t do everything at once, this little classification exercise, together with your Business Model Canvas, will help you concentrate your efforts on projects that will bring the most value to your practice.

Internal analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your practice should bring out elements that are mostly similar to that of your colleagues. The following should be included: CRM, team, IT materials, process, compliance, remuneration, etc. But these points will not all be placed in the same S or W quadrant and probably not in the same place in the “Value vs. Cost/Time” matrix, since they relate to the internal operations of your practice.

Opportunities and threats are external characteristics that are more related to your practice’s capacity for growth and its durability. Often, they are more difficult to identify in the “heat of the moment”. That’s why it’s a good idea to take the time to reflect, especially if you are thinking of transferring your company to someone else. For example, think of a practice that only offers personal insurance products and services to clients, corresponding only to the permit for an advisor practice. A potential buyer holding a personal insurance and group savings plan permit may find this practice very interesting.

If you have a mentor, ask for their opinion on your SWOT exercise. Mentorship is an excellent management “tool” which should be more often used in our field.

Here are some other information sources, for deeper understanding of the exercise:

My next article will be about establishing a process to organize your practice’s succession.