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Practice Makeover: Season 1

Practice Makeover: Episode 1

Feb 3, 2014 @ 12:00 am

Runtime: 9:22

Meet Trent Bradshaw: He's the president of Bradshaw Financial Planning and the subject of InvestmentNews' first "Practice Makeover". In episode one, Trent lays out some of the challenges he has had growing his business in recent years.

The Renovation Room

Industry experts and executives offer strategies, tips and ideas on how practices can improve their business.

Kelly LaPalio

Kelly LaPalio

Vice President of National Accounts, FocusPoint Solutions

Trent is not alone in facing the challenges he bravely shares. Many highly successful advisers realize they have built businesses that require their participation or input in just about every area-and something big has to change.

Eventually they reach a point where they recognize they simply can't do it all themselves, and it sounds like Trent is there. While it's clear that he has built a thriving business and a loyal client base, it's also evident that he's hit a wall in terms of capacity and his quality of life is suffering as a result.

There is hope! Our firm works with advisers managing a similar size client base with minimal-yes, just 1-2-staff. The key is that they have developed really tight systems to help support their clients. They've also chosen to outsource at least a portion of their non-client-facing activities.

As a starting point, based on what Trent has shared so far, I strongly suggest that he and his staff commit some time to documenting their procedures and. Making the time to establish a client procedures manual to reference will help give Trent and his team peace of mind. It will also be the first step toward his goal of creating a scalable business that requires much less of his time.

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Joe Anthony

Joe Anthony

SVP of Gregory FCA Communications

In the first episode, it is clear that Trent is stretched too thin serving so many households with so few people. If he is committed to limiting his staff headcount for measured growth, Trent needs to think about how to recast his marketing to appeal to his target market. Trent has the opportunity to build a marketing and PR strategy from scratch. Start by taking inventory of the firm website to see where he can take the canned content and turn it into language that speaks to other advisers he might want to recruit, as well as priority clients and prospects. Next, Trent and his team need to consult with their broker-dealer to find out what their specific social media guidelines are before revisiting his work with LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. A firm's website and social media presence is the virtual storefront of today's advisory firm. Building a quality digital infrastructure can help accelerate the effectiveness of his firm's broader marketing activities.

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Megan Carpenter

Megan Carpenter

Managing Partner of FiComm Partners, LLC

Trent Bradshaw is at a point in the evolution of his firm where it makes sense to give serious consideration to defining a niche market. In Episode 1 of Practice Makeover, there are a lot of questions wondering: "where do we go from here?" From my perspective, a narrowly defined niche market will help Trent develop his marketing plan. Becoming the known and trusted adviser in a clearly defined market will help Trent and his team service clients more efficiently and effectively. Near the end of this episode, Robert Sofia accurately points out that if Trent's objective is to shift his marketing strategies towards white collar professionals, he needs to update his messaging, his image and the presentation of his offering in order better align with his desired market. Robert is right! To be successful with white-collar professionals, Trent will need to do more than just follow the money. He will need to identify specific needs of that market, as well as un-met needs, and then develop a service offering that addresses these needs with passion and precision.

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Joe Duran

Joe Duran

CEO of United Capital

Our industry is filled with entrepreneurs that are running lifestyle practices. This can be defined as a company that would disappear if the principal were to disappear. Some of the most telling signs are that all excess cash flow is paid to the owner rather than invested into the business and there is a chronic under-investment in people and systems. Often the brand of the business revolves around the owner. The challenge is that many advisers are not well-suited to running a business and might be better off running a practice that revolves around them.

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April J. Rudin

April J. Rudin

President of the Rudin Group

It appears that Trent is underserving his family, his employees and his clients. Just like dollars, time is a resource. Some of your smallest clients in AUM might require the most handholding and service. This is not a profitable proposition for you as a business person. Instead of risking your reputation by underserving clients, decide at the outset whether or not it is a good fit for you or the client. You know that you have "made it" when you have the ability to say "no" to a client, and even go back to clients and "fire them." All clients are not created equal. It is not the quantity of clients, but the profitability and satisfaction of your client base, that will win this race.

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Beverly D. Flaxington

Beverly D. Flaxington

Principal of the Collaborative

Many financial advisers struggle to define their target market and match their message and offering. In addition, many advisers believe they are in the "service" business - which they are, to a point. But they believe this means when the client says "Jump!" they need to ask, "How high?" Instead, there is power in recognizing the client often doesn't know what to expect, so the adviser can lay out expectations early on and define them clearly. They can set the stage for how the relationship should work. Advisers often miss their opportunities to teach clients.

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Spenser Segal

Spenser Segal

CEO of ActiFi

Trent and his staff are so overwhelmed that they are reactive, not proactive in many of their activities. Time is not being spent wisely. Roles are not clearly defined, as Trent is not properly aligned with the role he should be playing. While they clearly feel overwhelmed, they do not understand what their capacity is. In addition, they do not know who to hire, when to hire, or how to hire. They do not have clearly defined processes that are executed on a consistent basis. Few advisors have the skills, resources, time, or support they need to get their people, processes, and technology working together efficiently and effectively. If done correctly, they can increase their productivity, improve the quality of service provided to clients, and increase employee satisfaction.

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Mark Matson

Mark Matson

CEO of Matson Money

Mr. Bradshaw has hit a ceiling of complexity that is common in the advisory industry. The solution is to not just work with high net worth clients, the solution is leverage. Our requirement to work with a client is that they are coachable, not how much money they have. I recommend a shift from a planning practice to a coaching practice. You should adopt a strategy that can leverage your communication and time by meeting in groups, from which you can service existing clients with education and grow your practice at the same time by allowing them to bring guests and utilizing social media as an extension of your education and communication.

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Your Practice Partner

Valuable information and assets provided by OppenheimerFunds, this season's sponsor of Practice Makeover.

Your Practice Partner

Practice Management tips and commentary on the first season of Practice Makeover, brought to you by OppenheimerFunds.

Don't just throw bodies at the problem

To manage those practices both administratively and operationally required one staff person for every 1-1.5 million in production.

Put Pressure On Systems, not People

We too often throw bodies at the problem without fixing the underlying issues. Instead if hiring superheroes to run a chaotic business, create a systemic practice where everyone can thrive.

Control Access

Controlling access allows you to plan, prepare and execute on meaningful consultation with your best clients while creating capacity to manage and grow your business.

How to grow your practice in today's complex marketplace

There are two fundamental business models for organizing your business: A sales business model, or a professional practice. Paul Blease, Director of CEO Advisor Institute at OppenheimerFunds walks through the major differences and issues.

Don't allow yourself to become digitized, marginalized or off-shored

Don't allow yourself to become digitized, marginalized or off-shored.

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About Practice Makeover

Over the last 15 years, InvestmentNews has heard - and told - the stories of thousands of advisers. Now we are going one step further: InvestmentNews is now working with some of the industry's top coaches to identify advisory firms that are in need of a "Practice Makeover". Our mission with this exclusive show is to help advisers take their practices to the next level - while providing our audience with practice takeaways that they can apply to their own businesses.

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