To attract and retain top advisors, super branches need value-add services that differentiate them from other firms. Camaraderie and peer knowledge often top the list of reasons independent advisors decide to join a branch rather than operate solo. Branches that offer opportunities for advisors to network and share insights and experiences gain longevity among their advisors (aka “stickiness”), greater profitability and higher probability that their advisors will refer others to the branch.
Hosting a branch meeting or mini-conference lets branch leaders encapsulate that camaraderie and peer knowledge. While food and fun can be part of the equation, don't overlook the end goal – giving advisors knowledge and tools that help them grow their individual book of business.
“The goal of an OSJ branch meeting is to provide a learning environment for advisors to discuss hot topics, reinforce best practices and participate in team building while providing guidance on how to succeed in today's complicated regulatory environment,” said Rob Santoriello, president and CEO of Iron Point Financial Advisors, a Securities America OSJ in Folsom, California.
Follow these four tips to create memorable and motivating branch meetings.
Brainstorm a list of five to eight potential topics, such as sales skills training, product training, practice management, time management, marketing and prospecting, business growth and technical skills. Have your assistant email your list to your advisors, asking them to rank the topics in order of importance to them.
With your top topics in hand, find existing training material you can adopt or adapt for your branch. Your broker-dealer should have material you can present yourself or, if available, have a subject matter expert from the broker-dealer present for you. Wholesalers can be another source of relevant, current content that will motivate your advisors to attend, and they will often provide a presenter.
Depending on your office space, you may have a conference room large enough for everyone to attend or you may need to find larger space elsewhere. Hotels can be an easy option, as they have flexible space and can provide meals or refreshments. If budget is a concern, look for other meeting options in your community – libraries, churches or temples, city buildings and colleges may have space you can use for low or no cost. Review guidelines for using these facilities, especially regarding food and beverages in the space.
A well-run meeting requires three key roles:
Host – The host is responsible for making the meeting reservation, inviting the participants and creating and distributing the agenda. The host takes care of all the logistics of the meeting, including meals and refreshments, parking and any audio/visual needs. This is usually the branch leader's main assistant or administrative professional.
Facilitator – The facilitator is responsible for monitoring the discussion and making recommendations to “park” issues that are deadlocked or do not pertain to the entire branch. These issues should be taken off line and discussed between the advisor and the branch leader. The facilitator also acts as the timekeeper to ensure the meeting stays true to the time commitment requested from the advisors. The facilitator is often the branch leader.
Scribe – The scribe is responsible for documenting key discussion points. This summary is provided after the meeting to all attendees as well as advisors who are unable to attend. This is usually the branch leader's main assistant or other administrative staff.
Based on the topics your advisors requested, create an agenda that will keep them engaged. Here are a few segments to consider:
- Recognize your advisors' efforts: Take a few minutes to congratulate and thank your advisors for completed goals, closed deals and new clients. Praise reinforces positive behavior and encourages everyone to do well.
- Share stories from the trenches; at least one positive war story should be shared in every meeting. These stories are engaging and fun, and they reinforce your goals.
- Encourage advisors to share: Directly involve your advisors by having them present products or sales tips.
- Open up your circle: Bring in subject matter experts from your community, your broker-dealer or wholesalers. Depending on your budget, you may want to consider a professional speaker. Some ideas include:
- An FBI or other law enforcement agent speaking on cybersecurity.
- An elder care specialist speaking on a holistic approach to helping clients with elderly parents.
- An economist from a local university speaking on current economic conditions.
- A marketing expert from a local agency or university speaking on how to reach multiple generations of clients.
- A psychologist or therapist speaking on how to help clients curb bad financial behaviors.
Distribute the agenda before the meeting, and give your advisors some general guidelines to help them prepare.
“A properly executed OSJ branch meeting should have the advisor walking away enthusiastic about their practice, having set realistic goals and feeling they have the tools needed to run a successful business,”Santoriello said.
Branch events can be a great opportunity for advisors considering your branch to get to know your culture and hear firsthand from the advisors who work with you. Ask your current advisors if they know someone who would be a good fit for the branch. You may want to consider a quick background check on the prospective advisors before extending an invitation. Your attention will be pulled in many directions during your event, so have a staff member or current advisor designated to make your prospects feel welcome and included. Be sure to take time to greet each prospect and connect again before the event ends. Soon after, send a handwritten card thanking them for attending and suggesting a time for a follow-up call.
Advisors consider time their most precious resource. By planning an event focused on helping your advisors grow their individual practice, you add value as a branch leader, build loyalty among your advisors and attract new advisors to your group.
Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC
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