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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Does Your Consultant Have an In-depth Discovery Process?

DISCOVERY PROCESSThe Discovery Process.  You know why it’s important.  This is part of what makes working with financial advisors so easy for us.  You folks get the importance of the discovery process.

My last blog dealt with helping you decide whether or not a Consultant would be a good move for you.  In this blog, I want to talk about the importance of the discovery process.

IF you do choose to work with a consultant, make sure they conduct an in-depth discovery process.  In the very same way it’s important for you to get to know your clients well your consultant should take the time to get to know you well.

Why?  You know why but here goes:

  1. If they don’t conduct an in-depth discovery, how do they know what you want from your firm? Chances are it’s different in some way from everyone else. 
  2. How can they help you build/correct/chart your course without knowing this?
  3. The answers to these questions should shape every decision made.
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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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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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Letting Go of the Vine

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Letting Go of the Vine – Why & How?

In my next few blog posts, I will explore the why and how of “letting go of the vine” or learning how to delegate and elevate yourself to a true leadership position.  Why is this important?  Most of you know why but I’ll list a few reasons here. 

If you have ambitions to grow your firm in the number of clients and revenue, you cannot continue to hold on to everything in your firm.  It’s just not possible. You will hit a ceiling very quickly and most likely, become very frustrated with your firm, your role and your life in general. After all, you didn’t become an entrepreneur to get caught in the grind of everyday work.  You most likely became an entrepreneur to create a distinct quality of life for you and your family and letting go of the vine is a big jump in getting to that quality of life.

Additionally, when you delegate to your staff, you give them opportunity to take the ball and run with it, to grow, to feel as though what they do makes a difference in the firm.  So just how do you start on this path?

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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 2 OR Why You Need a Strategic Plan…Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

You know the very best way for your clients to achieve their goals is to have a plan, right? Makes sense, doesn’t require a lot of debate. However, when it comes to having a plan to achieve your vision of your firm and where you want your firm to take you, studies show that few of you have this in place.

 Why?

1. Is it because it seems overwhelming?
2. Don’t know where to start?
3. Wondering how you’ll get the initiatives achieved when you’re struggling to keep up with what you have on your plate now?

All good reasons so let me take them one by one.

1. Yes, it’s overwhelming but not if you do some homework and identify what you want to accomplish. Also, don’t think about three years or five years. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months (one quarter at a time).


a. Do you want to grow your firm? If so, what marketing are you most comfortable with? You need a marketing strategy that is tailored to what you're comfortable with. There is no “one type of marketing” for everyone.

b. Staff – do you have all A players on board? If not, either move them to a position within your firm they are better suited for or replace them. Sound harsh? Maybe but I can promise you will never get where you want to be without the right riders on the bus in the right seats (see my blog of2/26/16 -10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 1).

c. Operations & Technology – do you have the right technology? Does it integrate? Do you have processes for everything in your firm?

2. Now, look through the few ideas I gave you above. Which is the MOST pressing? Pick one or two and focus on those. When they have been addressed to your satisfaction, move on to the next most urgent issue.

3. How do you do all of this with what you have your plate? You bite the bullet and put in extra time if needed (and remember, you have all A players helping you) BECAUSE, if you do these things, you will have less on your plate in the future and the items left on your plate will be the things you should be dealing with…not things that others should do.

So here are some common signs you need a Strategic Plan. If any of these are true for you, give us a call. We can help you identify your gaps, provide solutions to close them and help you stay accountable to getting them done!

Common warning signs you need a strategic plan:
1. When you are asked why you’re in business and your only answer is “Profit” or “to make money”.
2. Someone asks you where your business will be in one year and you don’t have a clue. You ask your partners and/or management team the same question and get wildly different answers.
3. You have some idea where you want to go in the next year but you don’t have any idea what you’re going to do to make it a reality.
4. Your company won’t hit its revenue goals for the year and although there can be many reasons for the shortfall, you’re not sure how to grow the top line.
5. There are inconsistencies in your brochure, your web site, your sales collateral, etc. You can’t understand the content and more importantly, neither can anyone else. You find that when you explain your business to a potential client, you tell different stories about how you provide value.
6. You’re ignoring the competition. You don’t know who your number one competitor is and what they’re doing.
7. Everything on your to-do list is a priority. You don’t know where your time is best spent.
8. Friends and colleagues can’t refer you because they aren’t sure exactly what value your business provides and to whom?
9. You ask your employees what success looks like and they don’t have a consistent answer.
10. You complain when your customers call you because you just don’t have time to talk to them. You notice your staff complaining as well.

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