Early on in my advising career, I struggled to find an identity — who was I, what did I do and for whom? And because I went into my own business right from the start, I was without benefit of a large firm training program so I learned everything by trial and error and the school of hard knocks.
I knew I had to identify a target market at the outset and position myself for that market so I answered those “who am I” questions early on. I spent the next number of years going out and getting business and growing my practice. My goals were always twofold — continue to build new business and create new relationships, combined with deepening existing relationships so clients stayed for the long term and grew with me.
Now that I have a 25-year, mature practice, with a recognized presence in the community and a loyal client base, my greatest challenge is the race against the clock. My 50- and 60-year-old clients are now 70- and 80-year-old clients, and I am faced with the reality that my valued clients are going to pass away at a higher rate than before.
This means that there is a great probability, according to industry statistics, that those assets will leave my firm. Not only will that mean a lower asset base, it will mean that if I do not replace them with newer clients, the value of my business, at a time when I might consider a transition, would be less.
The solution for me has been to be proactive, utilizing a multi-pronged approach to creating a better connection with my clients and their adult beneficiaries.
One tool that has strengthened the bond with clients is our Financial Organizer System. This simple, yet powerful tool, has helped us to solidify our relationships with our A and AA clients. For as most advisers know, these clients initially hired us because of the money but they eventually stay because of all that we do for them. Over the years, we've heard from our clients that the Financial Organizer is one of the highest rated items we offer.
Then, to address the generational issues arising, we extended our philosophy of offering value to the kids and grandkids. In this way, we can open, if not change, the conversation with these next generations. They appreciate that we take the coordination of information off their shoulders and support their family in ways that go far beyond managing their money.
Our latest value-added offering was presented during this season's round of reviews with our best clients. We started introducing them to our newly created Family Resource Center. This resource is a compilation of all of the services we can offer to the family. If we can become a resource to all family members, then maybe we can minimize the loss of assets down the road.
This comprehensive resource center offers services that can help the younger generation get a better handle of what they are going through now or may face in the future with regard to financial planning and investing. Included in this is the Financial Organizer, a Financial Checklist designed to guide the family through a myriad of financial issues, family meetings, access to my staff, our newsletter and our state of the art financial education video series.
To complement these services, we have created a proprietary series consisting of 19 six- to nine-minute high level videos designed to address the important financial issues of each stage of life. Called “The Financial Literacy Toolbox,” the series leverages new technology to better connect with our existing clients and their family members. It also provides our clients with another method to introduce us to new qualified prospects who can benefit from our services.
In the coming articles I will share more about these specific tools, how we use them and the benefits they could add to your firm.
Mark Singer is a best-selling author, frequent speaker and founder of The Financial Literacy Toolbox. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.