10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 5 OR Why You Must Have Weekly Staff Meetings

When I begin work with a new consulting client, I spend many hours getting to know the firm, the owners and the staff. Many times I am told by all involved the communication within the firm is bad. Then, my next questions is “do you hold weekly staff meetings” and I am constantly amazed at how many times I hear the word “No”.

When a team gets together and discusses things such as upcoming meetings, issues, concerns, where they stand on various projects, etc., it refocuses the team each week on the important work for that week and beyond. Having staff meetings every week can not only set the tone for everyone in the office for the upcoming week, it has a way solidifying the mentality that everyone is an important part of the team. All of our clients have regular staff meetings EVERY week. Some of our clients like to start a staff meeting off by going around the room and having each employee talk about something they are excited or grateful for that week. Ron Roge of R.W. Roge and Company (www.rwroge.com) says this “puts people in a positive state of mind.” Specifically speaking about the importance of starting the meeting off right, “Your mind has a tendency to go to the negative. When you think about what you are excited about, you have to push out the negativity. It sets the tone for the meeting, the day, and the rest of the week.”

The bare bones of a staff meeting usually include talking about issues that came up in the previous week, going over upcoming meetings and what prep needs to be done, and what everyone should be focusing on for the week.

Denise Davies, COO of Frisch Financial (www.frischfinancial.com), says, “Without a staff meeting, the CRM is useless. Staff meetings enhance the value of the CRM because no one in the firm is reading all the notes that are put in. It’s just not possible.” As far as morale in the office goes, Ms. Davies continues, “It gives everyone ownership and they feel included and are important to the team.”

The best staff meetings are light and can border on being fun because it can be a time for everyone on the team to catch up with one another. However, the leader of the staff meeting should have an agenda EACH WEEK and will adjust the course if the meeting is getting off track. Many of the owners of firms that we work with often only attend a portion of their staff meetings, or choose to exclude themselves all together. The staff meeting should be able to run without you, the owner of the firm.

Give us a call if we can help you construct or improve your firm’s staff meetings.

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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 (www.stormboard.com) 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 3 OR You Must Work ON Your Firm or You Just Have a Job!

At first glance, owning a business and having a job may seem like similar endeavors. However, as we know, owning a business comes with its own set of risks and rewards that are usually not a part of having a job. Being a successful business owner also requires top-level thinking that doesn’t always come “standard” in employees. Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” This cannot be more true for business owners. Thinking about your business and how it can run better, more efficiently, and sustain growth is one of the hardest parts of owning a business and many business owners do not do it enough. If you are not doing the hard work of thinking and working on your business, you are not a true business owner, you just have a job in a business that you happen to own. As Michael Gerber said “you are a technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure”.

Because we can all get caught up in the day to day minutia of working in our businesses, one of the best ways to make sure you are dedicating enough time to working on your business is to schedule time on your calendar that is 100% dedicated to this task. It seems like a simple and obvious solution, but so few business owners have dedicated time to work on their business. Some of our most successful clients use a model week that the entire staff knows about and adheres to so that enough time can be dedicated to important work like this. A color-coded calendar can do wonders for some teams – if everyone in the office knows that you only schedule client meetings in “green” times and that no one is allowed to schedule any meetings or calls during “purple” times, it makes it so much easier to carve out your schedule in the best way possible.

As we discussed in our last blog, a strategic plan is as important to your business as a financial plan is to your clients. And working on your business stems from the initiatives that you outline in your strategic plan. However, if you have laid out time every week to work on your business, it does not mean that you are reviewing and changing your strategic plan every week. In fact, if it is changing every week, I wouldn’t call it a strategic plan at all. During the time you dedicate to working on your business, you may be working on streamlining operations, establishing and executing a marketing plan, reviewing staffing issues, etc. You should NOT be working on anything involving day-to-day or even any client issues. This is a time to identify issues or weaknesses and try to resolve them or move your strategic initiatives forward. This makes your firm stronger and allows you provide the best client service to your clients. It always pushes you toward having the ideal firm you have envisioned.

TSI has always been and will always be a huge advocate of education and training to help everyone in a business to be the best that they can be. This also extends to you, the business owner. Keeping yourself abreast of changes and disruptors in the industry and challenges other advisors are facing will not only allow you to feel more connected, but also will help shape the time that you have committed to working on your business. Working with many different advisors gives us a unique perspective to see that many of the challenges and ideas that advisors have about how to better their business are not novel ideas. They just need dedicated time to get implemented.

If you are having troubles getting too mired down in the details and only working “in” your business and not “on” your business, feel free to give us a call and we can help steer you in the right direction.

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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.


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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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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The Importance of Having a Hiring Process

We’ve all heard the adage that we need to create the franchise that is our business so that you have repeatable results and repeating success. As with most things in your business, it is important to have a repeatable process for hiring new employees. Without a repeatable process, you leave the hiring of new employees up to chance and risk of 1) not finding the types of candidates you need your firm, and 2) hiring the wrong people. Both are expensive and time-consuming.

How to Find Great Employees
The most important rule to remember when posting job ads is to post to the places where the best candidates are looking. This is easier said than done, but it is not a useless exercise. It is important to cast a broad net if you are looking for administrative staff that –could have experience in a different industry. If you are looking for a more senior employee such as an operations manager or junior financial planner, it is important to keep in mind that these people may be looking for a new position through some of the larger job board websites as well as more specialized sites like their local FPA chapter or the CFP Board site. LinkedIn can also be a very useful tool for hiring/headhunting.

Interview Process
Once you get a candidate that you are interested in, the first step should always be a phone interview. You can learn a lot about a person over a phone call without having to go through the trouble of setting a meeting in person. You can weed out many of the applicants through a 15 to 20 minute phone call. Not only can you get information that is not on the candidate’s resume, you can get a sense for his or her phone etiquette and ability to think on their feet. In our process, if the candidate survives the phone interview, we send them a career history form, which gives us more information about their previous jobs, what they liked about them and why, and what they want to do in their career in the future. Only then is an in-person interview set up.

The questions you should ask both in a phone and in-person interview should be scripted, and you should be asking the same questions to each candidate. This is part of creating a successful hiring process. The questions should be tailored to the position for which you are hiring and should also take into account the culture of the company. This is not to say that every interview should have every word scripted. The interviewer will need to ask relevant follow-up questions to the answers provided by the candidate. This may not come naturally to everyone, and it is not uncommon for an interviewer to later think of several follow up questions he or she should have asked during the interview. It is perfectly acceptable to pose those follow up questions in an email to the candidate, but also be sure to add these follow up questions to your template so you do not miss them again. Two good resources for substantive questions are Paul Falcone’s 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire and Bradford Smart’s Topgrading. Both provide in depth analysis as to what questions to ask, and what you should be looking for in the answers.

Skills Testing
Skills and strengths testing is an important part of the interview process because you can only gain so much information from a person from talking to them. We use Caliper Assessments as part of our interviewing process because it is a good combination of personality, intelligence, and professional testing. It gives us a good idea of how the candidate will interact with other staff members, and the type of work they are suited to excel in. It is important to remember that no test is perfect and should be analyzed based on the totality of information you know about the person and the position you are considering the candidate for. However, if a candidate tests poorly, don’t be hesitant to move to other candidates just because you liked that candidate in his or her interviews.

Often, specific testing is needed for candidates that will have very specific job duties. For example, an administrative support candidate may need to be tested in his or her proficiency in MS Office. A financial planner candidate may need to provide a sample financial plan or can be tested on planning knowledge based on a hypothetical set of facts.

Onboarding Documents
Once you decide to hire someone, you will need to have uniform onboarding documents that lay out the duties the new employee will be responsible for, along with the compensation structure for the position. You want to set the expectations with the new employee for his or her position and for the firm in general.

The current job market favors the employee with low unemployment and a shortage of top talent. If your business will need a new team member in the next 6-9 months and you need help with any part of this process, please contact us now to discuss what we can do for you.

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The Importance of Hiring Good Employees

Many employers wait until they need a new person before they start posting job ads and looking for the new employee. This will often lead to the knee-jerk reaction of “we just need to get a body in here.” Just a body is almost never what businesses need unless they are in the movie business and they are looking for extras. Though employers may need help immediately, it is far more expensive and time consuming to hire the wrong person than it is to wait for the right person. A new employee that is smart, fits with the culture of the firm, and works hard can bring the level of work product and morale up in the office, even if that person is at the bottom of the organizational structure.

Any new hire is going to be a significant investment of time and money. Even if the new employee has worked in the same industry, there is always a learning curve when going to work in a new business. No two businesses operate in exactly the same way and it will take the new employee time to get up speed on how your specific business works. There will be a significant amount of time invested in training the new person, and there will also be time and energy spent by everyone on the team to make the new employee feel welcome in their new environment. To the same point, the investment of money by the firm is not limited to just the salary paid. We also have to consider the cost of the decrease in productivity of current employees who are responsible for training the new person. 

Even when the job description for a new person is acutely tailored, good employees always find a way of branching out and taking on tasks that were never in their job description. This will give leverage to other employees to focus on higher level tasks. Whether you are looking for a Senior Financial Planner or a Director of First Impressions, when a new employee can take on additional tasks, the leverage to work on the business instead of in the business and tackle more strategic goals always flows upstream.

Employment Numbers Are Not on Your Side

According the US Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate was 5.1% in September 2015, the lowest it has been since April 2008, and it has been steadily falling since 2010. (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/unemployment-rate) Though it has slowed somewhat, earlier in 2015, there were more new jobs created in the US than in any other time since the Department of Labor started tracking this number in 2000. Lots of job openings and very few people looking for jobs mean that good employees are scarce. In an employee’s market, finding and keeping good employees will necessarily be more difficult.

Because there are so many job openings and firms looking, qualified candidates who would fit into different firm cultures are not staying unemployed for long, and they often receive multiple offers quickly after they start interviewing. While some candidates are just looking to get the most amount of money in a new position, creating a bidding war among several potential employers, it is far more common for a candidate to look for a specific salary range, and then look for the firm culture that they feel the strongest connection to. It is truly a scenario where the potential employee is interviewing the members of the firm to see if he or she wants to work with those people every day. Also, because of the changing landscape of mandatory health insurance and increasing education of sound retirement planning, employees are requesting more benefits from employers in addition to the base salary offers. Competitive firms are offering a full gambit of benefits because they know this will attract the best candidates. Make no mistake – good employees not only want to be paid well, they want a benefit package that is just as competitive.

Difficulties in Hiring

Depending on the market, we are finding there are either a large number of unqualified applicants to our job postings, or virtually no applicants at all. In the former scenario, it feels like we are trying to find a needle in a haystack and in the latter, it is like doing a rain dance in the desert. Because of this, it is taking longer to find qualified candidates, and even longer to find qualified candidates who fit well with firm cultures. It makes sense that there would be large numbers of unqualified candidates in larger markets because in today’s landscape, businesses are hanging tightly on to their good employees and only letting go of their worst people.

Planning Ahead

Kneejerk hiring can be detrimental to your firm because of the money and time that is wasted, but also from a morale standpoint. A firm’s culture will quickly deteriorate if the employees see any position in the firm as a revolving door. If employees are not invested in building relationships with coworkers because they suspect some of them may be gone in six months, the firm can never run as a well oiled machine. The only way to combat this is to plan ahead – look at where your firm will be in 12 to 24 months and think about where area of the business will be overloaded if you hit your growth projections. If you see some area of your business reaching capacity in the next 6 to 12 months, you need to start looking for your next hire today.

If you are ready to start looking for your next hire, feel free to schedule a call with us to discuss further.

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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...

2240 Hits

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

2129 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 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

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

2103 Hits

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

2101 Hits

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.

2138 Hits

Office Clutter... time to take it seriously

Office Clutter... time to take it seriously

Okay, I will admit we all have different work styles. I myself, prefer order. A place for everything and everything in its place. I like lists - lists of things to do - lists of things I want do. A way to keep order and compensate for my horrible short term memory. 

Still, I occasionally go into client's offices and what I see is nothing short of a natural disaster. It looks like a funnel cloud ransacked the place. Piles of papers, files, post it notes, magazines, books...you get the picture. And enviably, they tell me, "but I work best in chaos" and to that, I say.. .what a crock!

Nobody works well in that kind of situation and let me tell you what I believe the biggest reason for this is (in my opinion)...it's overwhelming, it's depressing, it's a big reason that so many people become "frozen" by their daily work and can't make any progress. Additionally, when you keep files and loads of paper in your office, you reduce the efficiencies in your office by slowing down retrieval and access by your staff or yourself to documents you need. They are not where they should be and subsequently, this slows down the flow of work, sometimes to a crawl as you and/or your staff take precious time to search for what they need,  many times that being one piece of paper.

Here is a link to a book on that for $9.95 will  walk you through decluttering your office space (and along the way address your excuses for  not doing so and the rewards of completing this task). It might not sound important but it is! It can, in extreme cases, have a large impact on how  much you and your staff get work accomplished and feel about your workspace and in very extreme cases, cause a compliance nightmare or something to be dropped or poorly handled for a client.

Now get moving!

Call me or visit my site, if I can assist. Ginny

2083 Hits

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

2118 Hits

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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Do You Know What Your Mission Is?

Do You Know What Your Mission Is?

What is it? Why do you need one? How do you go about getting one in place?

Your mission statement communicates the soul of your firm to many different audiences. To your prospective clients, it drives home the fact that you are serious about adding value and positive outcomes to their lives. To your staff, it reminds them every day why they are doing what they do and how important their contribution is. Most importantly, to you, it should serve as a guideline. When new opportunities come your way, you should remind yourself of your mission statement and ask yourself if this opportunity is in line with where you want your firm to go.

How do you arrive at your mission statement? Your mission statement is something that comes from your heart and your head. It's a combination of intellect and emotion. It is the phrase that articulates why you got into to this business, why you want to be a fiduciary, why that is so important, why you want to be the best at what you do and what is it that you're going to be the best at?

If you already have a mission statement, congratulations! You are in the minority. If you have not, start to think about it now. Jot down notes, ask your staff, ask your family. Then, take some quiet, reflective time and write it out. Once you have it where you want it to be, frame it and put it in various locations throughout your office as a constant reminder to you and everyone why and how you do what you do so well.

If you'd like some examples, give me a call or send me an email at ginny@thestrategicimplementer.com.

2106 Hits