The Strategic Implementer - Blog

Are You Creating Capacity for Growth?


Are You Creating Capacity for Growth?

According to the recent study by Investment News, advisory firms are continuing to grow at a pretty healthy clip although sources of revenue have shifted (here is a link to the Executive Summary -Investment News Study of Pricing and Profitability - Executive Summary.  This study was formally

entitled “Financial Performance”.)

The study also showed that Advisors created a great deal of capacity last year adding staff at all levels.  When asked about the growth tactics they have employed over the last two years to create capacity, 45% of responding advisors stated they had hired new staff.

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Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire

SLOW TO HIRE QUICK TO FIREBuilding a team of great employees who are all sitting in the right seats and rowing in the same direction can be the single most transformative thing that can move your business forward.  A great team not only breathes life and growth into the firm, it also builds wins on top of wins.  It is a self-sharpening saw.  But how do you get from where you are now to having a great team in place?  Fire quickly and hire slowly. 

I’m always a little hesitant to suggest that a firm fire quickly when I am faced with those owners who are short-tempered or can get annoyed easily.  Being quick to fire does NOT mean you should fire any of your employees when you are annoyed or when someone makes a mistake.  Do not make an emotional decision under the guise of being quick to fire.  However, when you can sit down and evaluate an employee honestly, and you conclude that the employee does not have the skills, ability, personality, and/or mentality to set you apart from your competitors, it is time to begin the process of moving that employee on.  I have written before about knowing when to let a legacy employee go.  Letting go of any employee who has not done anything wrong, but is clearly not the right fit for their position, can be very difficult.  The sooner you can let go of the wrong person and get the right person in place and up to speed, the sooner you will see how drastic the impact is of having the right person in their place. 

Being slow to hire is a function of making sure that after you let the wrong person go, you don’t make the same mistake twice.  Our hiring process is listed on our website and we are adamant that every firm we work with follow that process.  It takes longer and requires more of candidates than most other firms’ processes.  This is because we have found that the system works and finds great people.  Part of our hiring process is that any candidate has to pass all of the hurdles to get an offer – no exceptions.  If a candidate really wows the team in an interview, but does not score well on the assessments, that candidate must be eliminated. 

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The Talent Shortage is VERY Real

TALENT NEEDED2Are you looking to add great talent to your team? Well, if you will need someone in the next six months, the time to start your search is NOW!

Finding great talent is becoming more and more difficult because there are fewer great candidates available. The average age of advisors is over 50 and 41% of advisers are 55 or older according to Cerulli research. The average time for a firm to hire an advisor has nearly doubled from 2009 to 2017 according to a study by DHI Hiring. There are also fewer and fewer college graduates that pursue financial planning degrees, as well as fewer opportunities in college – notably the closure of the CFP program at LSU here in Baton Rouge.

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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 9 OR Don't Wait Until You Are Ready to Retire to Think About Succession


If you want your business to have a life after you, plan for succession now and do it by finding a capable successor. Without a groomed and competent successor that your clients know and trust, your clients will go running for the hills when you are ready to call it quits. Your clients probably don’t know that the business could survive without you being there every day – they don’t know that you have great staff and documented processes that could keep the place running. Your clients trust you much more than they trust your business. So if you want your clients to stay with the business after you retire, you have to engender that same trust in your successor.

If you do not want your business to have a life after you leave, or if it is simply too late to begin the succession transition, planning for a sale of the business is the other option. However, one of the main things any buyer will be looking for in a firm that is selling is “Does the business run on its own, without the need of any one person being involved.” If the answer to that question is no because the business cannot run without you – the owner – your business will be devalued and your selling price will likely not be what you are expecting or your firm may not be sellable at all. The last thing most advisors want is to have to walk away from their life’s work with very little to show for it.

There are so many complexities to the manner in which a successor can take over a business, it would be pointless to try to talk about them all in a blog post. However, the one factor that correlates among firms that have successful transitions of ownership is to choose the successor early and begin the transition at least 5 years (10 being better) before the owner is ready to retire. Your clients need to know, trust, and sometimes even prefer your successor if they are going to stay with the business after you retire.

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10 Years, 10 Truths, Number 4 OR Why You Must Build Your Franchise

The E-myth by Michael Gerber has gone through many different variations, focusing on different fields and professions, but its message remains the same: the most successful businesses create repeatable results by designing and sticking to their franchise. If you have not read the book, it should be required reading for all entrepreneurs and their top managers. The lessons and examples outlined in the books give insight into why and how the most successful businesses get that way. Having documented processes also protects you against anyone in your firm having a process solely “in their head” and also increases the value of your firm.

You build your franchise by making as many of the things your business does on a regular basis into documented and repeatable processes/successes. This can range from answering the phone to on-boarding a new client. The purpose of this is to ensure that you and your employees are putting out the best product or service you can on a consistent basis. The best part of this idea is that once you have documented the way your firm goes about its business, it is much easier to bring on new members of the team and delegate specific tasks while maintaining the highest level of output. It also prevents you and other members of the firm from reinventing the wheel every time the same task pops up on their to-do list.

We have found that different people attack this process in different ways. Some people like to take a top-down approach of identifying certain positions in the firm, giving each person broad roles and responsibilities, and then laying out the specifics of how the tasks are done by each person. Others like to identify all of the tasks that the firm does, document how each task is completed, and then divvy the tasks up among the employees. Either way will lead you to the same result: processes that are documented and can be easily followed across the entire firm.

One issue that comes up a lot when firm owners want to start documenting processes is that it is very easy to want to have all of the firm’s processes documented all at one time. This, however, almost never works. When we ask employees and owners to document the processes that they do on a regular basis, we usually ask that each person document 1-2 processes per month. We have found that assigning more than that is too large of a project and often times gets put on the back burner. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Having 30 processes documented and in your CRM after six months is far better than having a few scattered processes here and there. We often discuss the processes that need to be documented at staff meetings at the beginning of the month and set the expectation that each employee should have the processes that are assigned to him or her by the staff meeting at the beginning of the following month. 1-2 processes in a month won’t overwhelm anyone into pushing this too far down on their task list and it is easier to keep people accountable to it.

We use an online brainstorming program called Stormboard ( with our clients that allows all of us to share the same screen at one time and put “virtual” post it notes up on a virtual wall. Putting each step of the process on a post it note and putting it on the wall has always been my favorite way of doing it. This program allows us to do it virtually with our clients and get the same results.

Once you have processes, make sure they are in your CRM so they can be run as needed. This, of course, keeps things from falling through the cracks and adds that level of accountability you want.

The consistency and repeatability that we see once we encourage our clients to build their franchise and document how their business runs are unparalleled. This is how you can set the stage of repeatable success in your business because without it, you are relying too much on luck and memory to make sure that each client is getting the excellent level of service your firm can provide them.

Give us a call if you want to discuss this further.

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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 1 OR Why the Right Human Capital is the KEY to Your Success

In November of 2015, I reached my 10th anniversary as the owner and founder of The Strategic Implementer, a consulting and coaching firm working with financial advisors and investment managers. As I look back, I realize there are some themes, or “truths” if you will that are “absolutes” to having a successful practice, happy staff and the quality of life you want. Over the course of the next six months or so, I will expound on each of these topics:

1. The right human capital is the #1 key to your success
2. ALL firms need a strategic plan just as your clients need a financial plan
3. You must work ON your firm or you just have a job
4. You must “build your franchise”
5. You must have staff meetings every week – open communication in your firm is key
6. You must empower individuals to do their jobs
7. Having deep, meaningful relationships with your clients will keep them clients forever
8. When it comes to marketing, clients will NOT come flying in the windows
9. Spend money on technology and then spend money on an expert to help you integrate it - TAKE THE TRAINING - this is not "plug and play" software
10. Don’t wait until you are ready to retire to start thinking about succession

Truth #1: The RIGHT human capital is the #1 key to your success

I begin with human capital because it truly is the lifeblood of every firm. It is the number one key to your firm’s success or failure though many advisors want to skimp in this area. For example, I cannot remember how many times I have heard advisors not wanting to pay their Director of First Impressions a good wage because they are “just a receptionist.” This person is responsible for being the first experience with every person who comes in contact with your firm. Is this really where you want to save money? You need to recognize the importance of every position in your firm and pay accordingly. Pay just a little above what the market will bear so they aren’t stolen or get tempted to leave for money.

Maximizing your investment in human capital is all about getting the right people on the ship and making sure that the people are in the right seats. You don’t want to have a navigator who should really be swabbing the deck, and vice versa. Whenever we begin working with a new firm, we always assess everyone in the firm to find out what each person’s strengths are and in what seat they should be sitting. This is true for any new employee that we help our clients hire as well. This takes time and sometimes results in having to turn down otherwise good candidates because they are not suited for the position your firm needs at that time.. I whole-heartedly believe in the maxim “slow to hire, quick to fire.” If one of your employees is not suited to sail the high seas, they have to get off the ship immediately.

I advise every one of my clients to put compensation incentive plans in place for their employees because most people like to know that if the firm is doing well, they will be rewarded for their contribution. On the flip side of this, if the firm is not doing well or the employee is not contributing enough, it will affect their bottom line. This gives them skin in the game. This also means that employees must be given regular performance reviews. Your people need feedback from you or they will not know if they are meeting or exceeding your expectations. They are not mind readers. Also, I have never heard of an employee who didn’t want to receive positive feedback on the things that they are doing exceptionally well.

Finally, you have to remember that we are in a service industry and you should direct as much of your employee efforts and time to the “client WOW experience” as possible. If there are tasks that do not have any effect on the clients’ experience, outsource them. This can include client paperwork, compliance, mailings, etc. etc. You want to give your clients the best experience you can, and those tasks need to be handled with ultimate care. However, there are outsource people that can do pretty much every aspect of your business. If the great people that you have hired and cultivated over time are spending large amounts of time on things that have no effect on the clients’ WOW experience, I see that time as poorly spent. Your team should be spending most of their time providing stellar service to your clients. Period.

The success or failure of a firm is directly linked to the firm’s human capital. It is your job to make sure that ship sails smoothly and efficiently.

As the year progresses, I will be going over the topics I mentioned earlier, and I hope you will continue in my series of Ten Years, Ten Truths.

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5350 Hits

Get Over It

Get Over It

Qualified prospects...they're out there in numbers greater than we've ever seen! But one thing has not 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 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

I am frequently amazed when I work with advisors and we begin a discussion of their personal goals, most of the time which include working less hours and then they say to me "Oh, I can't cut back that much, I'll be working less than my staff". Seriously, this is what they say and I say "Yes and...?" For some reason, you folks have it in your brain you have to be the first one there and last one to leave. To that, I ask, why are you hiring staff then?

You are the team's leader and you have a responsibility to be clear-headed, thoughtful in your actions and forward thinking. How can you do this if you are always exhausted by working, probably getting very little (or worse, no) exercise AND on top of all of this, during turbulent markets, worrying about your clients all the time.

TAKE SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF EVERY WEEK! Take an afternoon off, take time in the middle of day to exercise, read, spend time with your family, whatever but do it away from the office and get over the fact that your staff are there working. That's what you are paying them for!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

As always, if I can be of any assistance go ahead and drop me a line or visit me online

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