Practice Tips

Practice Tipsblog

Successful advisers offer easy-to-implement advice for practices looking to improve and update their businesses.

Apr 3, 2015, 12:41 PM EST

The hidden cost of reducing your practice's marketing budget

By Shawn Sparks

When I ask advisers to tell me the biggest cost in their business, they usually point to things like the wages they pay their support staff, the monthly lease for their office space, or the dollars they pour into their marketing programs.All these things can be expensive, but they often aren't the biggest costs in an adviser's business. Unfortunately, if advisers don't clearly recognize their biggest cost, they sometimes make decisions that hurt their businesses.Here's an example: Many advisers use seminars to generate leads. But because seminars can be expensive and difficult to run, they are often the first thing advisers cut when they are looking to save money. (More insight: How top advisory firms handle their expenses)If you were to stop doing seminars and reduce your marketing budget accordingly, you might naturally assume that you'll save money. On paper, you'll see that you were spending so much a month, and now you're spending ... Read full post

Feb 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

How a uniform client service plan can help a fledgling firm grow

By Drew Horter

Every year, many young and mid-career professionals make the move into the wealth management industry hoping to help individuals and families make the best financial decisions. While wealth management can be an exciting and rewarding field, few new advisers get the appropriate systems training, mentoring and coaching they need to be successful. While working with more than 300 advisers nationwide, I've studied the best practices of the top 30-40 advisers to fine-tune our systems. From this, we've developed a list of key standards and procedures all advisers who want to grow their businesses and assets should follow. Rising competition from larger players and robo services makes a uniform client-servicing plan more critical than ever. We believe advisers who follow these steps diligently will find their practices growing quickly and sustainably. Here is a brief sketch of what that takes:Differentiating yourselfWith so many advisers... Read full post

Feb 13, 2015, 2:26 PM EST

A numbers-based approach to bringing in more client assets

By Shawn Sparks

Upon ringing in the New Year, successful advisers set their sights on new goals, many of which focus on bringing in new assets. What's your goal? Are you trying to bring in $10 million, $20 million, or even $30 million in new assets?As much fun as it is to sit and daydream about how your life would be different with all those new assets under management, it requires work to get there. And you'll never achieve your goal without a clear actionable plan that shows you exactly what you need to do each and every week of the year.This is not as scary as it sounds. Once you reverse-engineer your goal, you're going to immediately feel empowered. And your goal will feel reachable, attainable and achievable.(Related read: What to do if your 2015 goals start slipping away) For the purposes of this exercise, we're going to assume your goal is to bring in $20 million in new assets by the end of 2015. How are you going to do that? First, you're... Read full post

Jan 26, 2015, 3:08 PM EST

Build trust with clients through clear communication and transparency

By Amy Zimmerman

Some of the most successful, honest and reputable advisers I've interviewed over the years have cited that what makes them different is that they — unlike less scrupulous advisers — actually do what they claim and truly have their clients' best interests at heart. They are tied to a fiduciary standard that goes beyond a legal statute, as they have a passion for helping clients reap the benefits of maintaining healthy financial plans. However, saying “trust us” has the opposite effect of its intent.Trust is an intangible differentiator that financial advisers must convey in their communications with clients. While trust is built over time with a track record, clear communication and transparency can help lead the way. (More: Why you should make both face-to-face and online networking priorities)So how do you convey the intangible trust factor in your communications?Differentiating yourself as an adviser in an... Read full post

Oct 8, 2014, 12:50 PM EST

3 tips to help advisers zero in on the best client prospects

By Bill Militello

Today's advisory landscape presents unique challenges for advisers. The numerous forces at play are mostly outside advisers' control, including fee compression, consolidation, rising operating costs and highly correlated markets. There is, however, one thing that is very much in an adviser's control: the clients with whom they engage.This realization came to me during my decade-long career as an RIA. Early on, I often felt alone on the island of independence, unsure of where to take my business. I quickly realized I needed to focus my attention on a subset of individuals that provided my practice with real scale. High net worth (HNW) individuals, defined as those with $5 million or more in liquid net worth, proved to be the clients I needed—and wanted—to work with, and who yielded a mutually beneficial relationship. In this country there are millions of millionaires, 84% are self-made, and 75% accumulated their wealth... Read full post

Aug 28, 2014, 1:13 PM EST

5 lessons learned after one year running a financial planning firm

By Mary Beth Storjohann

It's hard to believe it, but my financial planning firm, Workable Wealth, officially turns 1 this week! Just 12 months ago, the website went live after months of prep work and paperwork, and the (virtual) doors opened as I welcomed my first clients to the Workable Wealth family.What a journey it's been. Twelve months in business is just one step in the grand scheme, but it's a step that I'm incredibly proud of. As with many birthdays, it's a time of celebration and a time of reflection. Since launching last year, I've been contacted by other business owners, financial planners, college students and reporters asking about how I went about building this business, and the lessons I've learned along the way.Did I feel ready to launch Workable Wealth? Heck no. It wasn't until I received this text message from one of my best friends in February of last year that I knew it was time:“I'm not sure if you'll ever be truly happy until... Read full post

Jul 24, 2014, 12:58 PM EST

4 skills that help advisers function like CEOs

By Ray Sclafani

As a financial adviser leading a team or small firm, your responsibilities are often like those of a CEO leading a company. Thinking like a CEO requires busy advisers to tackle several managerial issues along with with their responsibilities as producers.The first is that you clearly understand the different areas of focus that go into being a CEO, and the second is that you understand how to share this knowledge with your team members so that they can become effective partners in co-creating the goals and vision of your organization. We've worked closely with top advisory teams and have identified the following four crucial skill sets that help advisers function more like CEOs: 1. Relational: These skills come very naturally to many advisers, especially when interacting with their clients. However, they are often overlooked when it comes to the dynamic of their own teams, and could be even further refined in their interactions.... Read full post

Jul 17, 2014, 3:53 PM EST

8 ways to reach the next level of client segmentation

By Matthew Halloran

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Apr 18, 2014, 1:19 PM EST

How to use your hobbies to master client prospecting

By Frank Maselli

One of the hidden secrets in our profession is that there are a thousand ways to succeed. You won't hear this from your manager or from sales trainers, since firms have no vested interest in thinking creatively or helping you find new ways to drive business. In my hierarchy of fun activities, client prospecting used to live near the bottom alongside a screaming baby on a redeye and a root canal. Then I found a way to connect my business to an extracurricular activity that ignited my deepest passions. This could be a hobby, a personal interest, or a favored activity of (almost) any kind. It could sports, knitting, cooking or even reading books. Maybe you're a closet woodworker, a ballroom dancer or an equestrian jumper. Try the PowerBall test and see what fits best. If you won $100 million (after taxes) tomorrow, what would you still do because you loved doing it? That's the place to start. Follow my logic as it pertains to connecting... Read full post

Apr 2, 2014, 3:44 PM EST

Why the client segmentation model is outdated and should be replaced

By Megan Carpenter

I spend a lot of time consulting with advisers on things that they do on public display. Everything I counsel them on keeps things framed from the clients' perspective. Before you write a single word of marketing copy, utter one syllable on television or do any interviews, advisers should remember one thing: no matter what forum you think you are in and whom it's reaching, there is a chance it will also reach your clients.Don't assume that when you are featured in InvestmentNews your clients aren't reading it. You know how the saying about assumptions goes. Think about the phrase “client segmentation” for a second. Now imagine how a client would feel if they knew they were being “segmented.” How would you feel if your doctor “segmented” you into a group of patients they clearly didn't find very interesting or worth much time?The standard industry approach to client segmentation — rating clients,... Read full post

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