My Advisor Community - What Are Other Advisory Firms Doing or Not Doing?

BUS COMMUNITY

My Advisor Community– What Are Other Advisory Firms Doing or Not Doing?

I am so lucky!  I work with the most amazing clients.  Now to be fair to myself, I did this intentionally.  One of the best things about being my age (no need to mention a number…just assume I’m “mature”) is I am wise enough to know that working with clients who don’t share my values (family, quality of life, etc.) is going to be, at the very least, frustrating and at the very worst, damaging to my health.  Unfortunately, I know this from past experience.  This is why I don’t take on every prospective client who comes my way. It’s very liberating!  I highly recommend it.

So where am I going with this?  I believe the very best advisors want to share information with other advisors.  Now, let me quantify that statement a bit.  I’m not suggesting you share a proprietary process or give away the “secret sauce” but if they stumble onto a new technology for instance – and it can range from something small like scheduling technology to something larger, like changing portfolio management software – they are happy to have me share it with my other clients. In that way, my firm has built an informal community of advisors who are assisting each other.

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Make Sure Your Consultant Insists on Your Firm Having a Strategic Plan

STRATEGIC PLANNINGMake Sure Your Consultant Insists on Your Firm Having a Strategic Plan

My last two blogs address hiring a consultant (Should You Hire a Consultant? & The Discovery Process of Your Consultant).  So let’s talk about the next step.

So, you’ve hired the consultant that fits you best and they’ve conducted an extensive discovery process.  They have prepared recommendations for you and you both agree on the challenges and opportunities to be addressed.

So, what’s the next step? Obviously, it’s to translate all of this into a 12 month Strategic Plan for the firm.  What does this encompass?

  1. A SWOT analysis – we recommend this be done in a team setting with everyone on the staff. This is a great way to get them engaged in the process. I’m sure many of them never think about these issues and pulling them out of their day-to-day to focus on it is a win-win for the entire team. You and your consultant have already done much of this work during the discovery and recommendations phases but again, this pulls in the entire team.
  2. We want to hear what your Big Hairy Audacious Goals are.
  3. However, we focus on your major initiatives for the next 12 months. I don’t like planning beyond this because as my mom likes to say “life is what happens when you’re making other plans” and you will want to stay open to changes in your firm and in the industry.
  4. Each firm initiative will have an “Owner”, someone who is in charge of spearheading its completion.
  5. You will lay out a series of action steps and deadlines for each initiative.
  6. You will record these initiatives somewhere other than your CRM – we believe your day-to-day work MUST be in your CRM but your strategic plan deserves a home of its home. We provide our clients with web-based project management software at no cost to them.
  7. We use this software to keep everyone accountable to their initiatives.
  8. We generally have weekly calls with you to make sure goals are being met and we are on track with what you want to get accomplished.
  9. We have multiple monthly calls with the team (or with many clients, we participate by phone in their weekly staff meetings) to make sure initiatives are being accomplished.
  10. If they are not:
    1. We may get in there and help the staff member working on it – what work can we do on our end to help move it along?
    2. We may evaluate if it’s still relevant.
    3. We may evaluate whether or not we assigned it to the right person

In other words, we are constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure these initiatives are getting completed because remember, they are the path to you reaching your goals…achieving your desired quality of life. 

You can schedule a complimentary call with us to see if we are a fit and answer any questions you may have.  Again, we’re looking to work with a small group of elite advisors so we will be honest with you as to whether or not we are a good fit. We may also be able to give you a few ideas you can implement immediately. 

Thanks for listening, Ginny

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Should You Hire a Consultant for Your Financial Advisory Firm?

CONSULTANT

I’m sure many of you have asked yourself this same question at one time or another. Should I hire a third party to help me with my business and whatever challenges I may be facing?

The answer is maybe.  Not all business owners are going to benefit from this type of work.  We have our own set of criteria (see below) and I’m sure other Consultants (for the purpose of my writing, I am going to use Consultant to encompass all manner of third parties who work with Advisors on practice management or coaching) have their set of criteria.  Most of us are vetting you in the same way you are vetting us. Why? Simple, we’re looking for a quality of life as well and working with someone who is either a bad fit for my firm or not open to others’ points of view makes for a stressful work life.

So, who might benefit?

  • You have some size to your firm. Let’s face it, in the early days, you are just trying to stay afloat.  When I get calls from smaller firms, it’s not that I don’t want to help them, it’s just that the only real advice I can give them is “market like Hell” because you need revenue to get to the next step.  I leave a certain number of slots open on a pro bono basis for these types of firms and have them filled at all times.  However, we have found we work best with firms with AUM greater than $50MM or gross profit of $500k or more.
  • You recognize the need for a well-thought out strategic plan – You know your clients need a financial plan to meet their goals – same goes for your business.
  • You understand the need for high performing team members, you want to mentor them and help them be fellow visionaries – I get frustrated when I talk to advisors and they tell me they are trying to get the least expensive person or they don’t understand the need to mentor their employees. I can promise you, without the best of the best staff being paid well and getting ongoing training, you will NOT get where you want to go.
  • You are open to the opinions of others – ‘nough said!
  • You are interested in a great quality of life – if it’s all about money for you, you probably won’t benefit from a Consultant. Most of us – I would say at least the ones worth their salt - got into this business because we also want a quality of life – it’s one of our core values.
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Document Your Processes and Finally Build Your Franchise!

FRANCHISE IMAGEIn my most recent writing dated April 10, 2018, I talked about how to get buy-in on writing and using processes.  We all know why this is important…not just from an accountability standpoint but from the view of getting YOUR way of doing business” documented so it’s repeatable.  In other words, Building Your Franchise.

TSI has spent a great deal of time studying the dynamics that go into documenting your franchise.  We understand it is one thing to say you need to document your processes but an entirely different proposition to actually get it done.  We have helped many of our clients get their processes down and what follows are what we have determined to be the easiest and most efficient ways.

So here are our ideas! Let us know what you think.

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How to Finally Get Buy-In on Writing and Using Processes

CREATE WORKFLOWS PROCESSESWith CRM technology becoming more and more robust, written processes and workflows that are integrated into your CRM can be an invaluable tool to keep moving things forward and to track what has been done for your clients.  Writing and inputting processes into your CRM can be an onerous task in itself.  Going through your firm’s processes and figuring out how if-then logic trees will integrate with your CRM can drive some people mad.  However, we have found one of the biggest hurdles is to get everyone to use the processes once they are in the CRM. 

Owners are sometimes the worst offenders in failing to use the CRM processes because you know what needs to be done and you know how to do it.  However, there are some tools that we use to ensure that your team continues to use processes you’ve developed.

Invite everyone that will be assigned a task in a process to collaborate when it is written.  One of the best ways to get buy-in is to have everyone that will take part in any process help develop and write it.  People are more likely to continue to use a tool if they participated in its development.  They have already invested a good deal of time into it during the development phase and they want to make that effort meaningful and not forgotten. 

Assign a point-person for each process.

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Delegate & Elevate OR How to Keep Your Revenue Growing

DELEGATE ELEVATEIn January, I talked about “Letting Go of the Vine” and why this is so crucial to achieving the success you deserve.  If you didn’t read this post, you might want to read it here  before you read this blog. 

So after you have taken the time to track your activities for some period of time and gone through the exercise I suggested in January’s blog of figuring what you enjoy to do and do well, etc., the next step is actually delegating work.  This is the really tough part, trust me I know. But by delegating, you are giving yourself the opportunity to elevate yourself to operate at your highest and best use.

 But’s let back up a little.  Why delegate?  Sounds like a silly question and yet so many struggle with doing it so I have to believe the value is not being communicated.  Let me take a crack at it.  Do any of these sound like you?

  1. You are experiencing a lack of control over the business because you are trying to do too many things the least of which is being strategic?
  2. You’re not on the same page with your staff, your clients, your vendors, your partners?
  3. The firm has stopped growing?
  4. Nothing seems to be working – staff is numb to new initiatives and you are spinning your wheels?
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No more Mr. Nice Guy

No more Mr. Nice Guy

It's true, financial advisors are sweethearts. You got into this business because you sincerely want to help folks succeed financially, meet their goals and live their dreams. This is a great quality in a financial advisor!

However, it's not always such a great quality in a human resources manager. Time after time, advisors call me because they have someone in a position they know is just not quite right, they can't see a future for them with the firm or they just generally irritate the advisor. We talk and talk about the employee and then, after listening to a litany of excuses as to why the employee is still there, I say "Sounds like it might be time for a change". The shock in their voice is palpable. How could I suggest such a thing... what kind of heartless person could I be?

Maybe I am a little bit of a mercenary when it comes to this but my clients pay me to look out for what is best for them. Now, don't get me wrong. Those of you who have read any of my postings relating to hiring, training, etc. know I am a huge advocate for taking great care of the RIGHT employees. However, if you have someone who you are just keeping because you're either too nice or loyal to make a change or because you're too big a wimp, you are not doing anyone any favors.

Hanging on to someone like this is actually very selfish. If you know you have someone who you do not see in the long term picture of the firm, you have an obligation to let them know. They need to be either searching for a new position or a new career.

 If you find yourself in this position, have a plan for transitioning this person out and bringing in a new, better fit. Don't just throw them out.. .talk to them about it. Be honest. The majority of the time you will find that while their feelings are going to be hurt (it's only natural), they will appreciate your honest approach to helping them move on.

Call me if you'd like to discuss this further.

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Build it and thev will come...

Build it and thev will come...

I know, I know.. .that phrase is used over and over again but it fits perfectly with what I want to talk about.

My clients, for the most part, are experiencing solid growth right now. Their phones are ringing, they are getting referrals and they are enjoying what they do. Okay, now does that sound like bragging.. .not meant to be. Just a statement of fact.

Truthfully, I'm not really that surprised because they are focused and committed or they wouldn't have called me and they certainly wouldn't pay me. We work together to identify the holes and what is causing pain and then fill those holes and eradicate the pain.

But, I still wondered, what was happening that caused the door to swing open so wide and I think I figured out (and one of my clients articulated it beautifully). My clients are ready to receive new clients. They have hired the best folks, they have put processes in place, they have a strategic plan and they are positioned to be a resource to their community, their clients, their referrals sources, their friends and their family.

It's really that simple. I believe when you are struggling with being so involved in the day to day operations of your firm, you are simply not ready to receive and you are basically self-sabotaging your growth.

Not that hard of a concept and yet so many have not figured it out.

Get your shop and your personal life in order...build it and they WILL come!

Take care, Ginny

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You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.

So many times, I see advisors work so hard to get a get referral. They get one and low and behold, the referral becomes a client. So what happens now?

The advisor is now on to the next conquest because that's what we've told you. Don't break stride, keep your momentum going. But the problem here is that you have this brand new client, a bird in the hand so to speak and you are not spending anytime on the front end with them, welcoming them, walking them through the transfer process, writing them a handwritten thank you note and including a small gift as a thank you.

No where in your relationships with your clients do you have a better opportunity to establish how the relationship will progress than in those first few months. Make sure you have a process for someone in your office to follow. I would suggest it include the following items:

  1. Write a handwritten thank you note thanking them for becoming a client (should come from you).

  2. BEFORE the transfer process begins, send them a letter letting them know how it work. For example, remind folks who have checks on their investment accounts to stop writing checks and give them an idea of when their money will become available again and when they'll receive checks from the new custodian. Let them know if there are any complicated NON-ACAT items that will come slowly. Reassure them that you are watching this every day and will notify them immediately if there are any issues.

  3. Have someone from your office contact them at LEAST once a week to engage them in conversation and ask them if they have any questions.

I recommend 10 touches in the first 90 days with 6 of those being in the first 60 days.

 What's going to happen here? First and foremost, you have a happy and well-served client. Secondly, they are going to be so ecstatic with your service, they will be chomping at the bit to tell their friends. Thirdly, they are now conditioned to refer folks to you.

 Give it a try and see what happens. You will be establishing a firm foundation for your client relationships!

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Privacy please...

Privacy please...

Just a quick reminder to everyone that talking on your cell phones about client business can lead to a violation of privacy.For instance, my neighbor who also works from home just had a very angry conversation in his front yard on his cell phone while waiting for someone to come by. I could hear just about every word whether I wanted to or not. He is not a financial advisor but is in a business that has high needs for privacy. NOT a very smart move.

Cell phones are convenient and we all have them...I'm not advocating the discontinuation of their use. However, I do want to remind you that there are ears listening and you never know who is hearing what and if it might get back to a client - even the largest cities seem to get very small when something like this takes place. 

Don't put yourself in this position. If you're discussing client business out of the office, do it in your car with the windows rolled up. Don't do it at Starbucks over a cup of coffee thinking that because you're in a corner speaking low, no one can hear you. Nine times out of ten, this is not going to be true.

Not only will you lose a customer if it gets back to them, you have opened yourself up to potential monetary damages AND damaged your reputation. It's just not worth the risk.

Take care...

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No matter how hard vou wish it...thev won't come flying in vour window...

No matter how hard vou wish it...thev won't come flying in vour window...

Qualified prospects...they're out there in numbers greater than we've ever seen! But one thing has not changed...no matter how hard you wish it, they will not come flying in your window and land in your lap. You still have to do the work.Now, when I say work, I mean having a well-thought out plan of reaching your ideal clients. This might include:

1. Identifying the clients you want to duplicate. You know, I've said it before but I'll say it again. People have an innate desire to help others if they can. Your clients want to help you...it gives them a good feeling to match you up with their friends and have the relationship be successful. One word of caution here. Make sure you have educated your clients as to your referral process so they know what their friends and family can expect from you when being contacted.

2. Talk to your Center's of Influence. Again, as I've said before, these folks are just as befuddled as your clients. Break down all the rhetoric for them so they can break it down for their clients. They'll appreciate the simplicity you are trying to bring to their lives and know their clients will appreciate it as well!

3. Write, write, write...the media is hungry for information right now. Be a resource for your local paper. Again, it all comes down to keeping it simple. However, don't expect them to come to you. They will value and treasure you if you send them well thought out and written pieces that are ready to go. If you see some big news that day, be the first to call the business editor and find out what you can do to help them communicate it. Do they want to interview you?

You get the idea. It really doesn't have to be hard. It just has to be a priority, well thought out and consistent. This is how you keep your pipeline flowing.

A parting thought.. .if you don't have time to do these things, ask yourself why? If it's because you are spending the bulk of your day in your back office, this is a recipe for disaster. No matter how hard you work, this will NEVER change until you decide to change it by hiring a coach to help you figure out what you can delegate and to whom.

What are you waiting for?

Take care and let me know your thoughts. Ginny

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Get it in Writing!

Get it in Writing!

I frequently work with clients who tell me they're having difficulty with their staff. No one knows who's supposed to do what, there is frequent redundancy in work, there are clashes among staff over who is supposed to do what. Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, my next question would be, do you have Position Statements for each of your staff including you? If not, this is more than likely the cause of the discourse.

Again, you've heard me say this...most of us did not get into business for ourselves to manage folks. However, if you're going to have staff, either you're going to have to do it or you must hire someone to do it - those of you who know me know I always advocate the latter...a good COO can solve many of these problems. However, one step you can take without hiring someone is to make sure everyone in your organization has a Position Statement - a document that lays out very carefully what they are specifically responsible for within your organization. 

You write it (or hire someone like me to assist you), knock it around with the staff member until its accurate (there are more than likely things they are doing you don't even realize and others you assume they are doing and they are not) and then you both sign it. This document then becomes the basis for reviews, bonuses, etc.The other thing it does is it clarifies very carefully what everyone is doing. There is no more bickering over it, no more redundancy and it helps your organization run more efficiently and smoothly. It also empowers the staff members to make decisions in their area of responsibility and become experts in those areas.

You can also include a comp plan in this document if you'd like. However, either way, you should share the pages of the document that outline responsibilities with every member of the staff (post them on an intranet, put them in the employee manual but make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing).

Let me know if I can assist you in this endeavor and as always feel free to visit my website for more info. Take care, Ginny

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What Do Your Clients Think About You and Your Firm...Why Don't You Just Ask Them?

What Do Your Clients Think About You and Your Firm...Why Don't You Just Ask Them?

When was the last time you asked your clients what they really think about you and your firm? What do  they value and what do they really not value that might be taking up an inordinate amount of your time?

Why does it make sense to be doing something that might not even be valued by your clients? It doesn't so now is a good time to find out exactly where you should be focusing your time.

My favorite resource for finding out is Advisor Impact's Client Audit http://advisorimpact.com/ussite/aboutus.html. Their survey methods allow you to get the best information not only on what your clients value and don't value but also provides opportunities for you to have high impact conversations with clients as well as marketing opportunities. I recommend my clients conduct this survey every two years.

So don't guess, get out there and ask!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to call me or visit my site and see how I can help.

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Misplaced Loyalty?

Misplaced Loyalty?

Under- or non-performing employees...I see it in nearly every engagement I have. But as I've said before, financial advisors are sweethearts. You are among the most loyal folks I have ever met which is why you are so good at what you do best which is care for your clientele.

However, sometimes this loyalty can be misplaced and lead to problems within your firm...some you might not even realize.

When you have under- or non-performing employees, you are requiring your above-average employees to carry a greater burden. They're not fools.. .they know why this is occurring. It's because you don't have the guts to get rid of this person and you're saying "hey, I care more about this one employee than I do about the good of my team". Talk about resentment!

Additionally, when you finally do pull the trigger on this person, you will more than likely see relief on their face. Why, because you've done something for them they didn't have the guts to do to themselves. Usually the employee who is terminated reveals they were not happy and how could they be? They know they're not up to par.. .how stressful that must be!

Now is the time...take a look at your staff. Do you have all A players? If not, do you have B's that can become A's? Or do you have some C's in there that you know are never going to be up to par and it's time to send them on to the next chapter in their work life? If so, do it now! Don't wait another day.. .you'll be glad you did and they may just thank you as well. I know your staff will.

Take action and take care, Ginny

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It's usually about filling in the gaps...

It's usually about filling in the gaps...

When I'm asked what kind of work I do with advisors, I say "it's usually about filling in the gaps". Here is what I mean by that.

Nine times out of 10, when an advisor calls me, they have already built a pretty good firm. They're making money and they usually know exactly where they want to go but they're not sure how to get there. They're not sure how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Sound familiar?

So, that's when I come in. I use a process that examines every aspect of your practice and I benchmark it against where you want to be or what is generally accepted practice management within the industry. Then, together, we come up with a plan for "filling in the gaps". I am a little different from other coaches in that I am also a hands-on implementer. What does that mean? It means I'm going to stick around and help you implement it.

In my opinion, filling in the gaps is what a good business coach does. They are also the person always looking at the big picture so you can focus on the day-to-day activities of the firm because let's face it, as a small business owner, this is where most of your energy is spent. But there is a difference in spending your energy on planned activities that take you toward your goals and just putting out fires.

I would highly recommend you look at hiring a coach to help you get to the next level or wherever you want to go. After all, why not hire someone who has done this before and can bring ideas and enthusiasm to the table. Why not give me a call or drop me a line

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