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Practice Makeover: Season 1

Practice Makeover: Episode 2

February 20, 2014 | 11:30

Practice Makeover: Episode 3

March 07, 2014 | 13:52

Practice Makeover: Episode 4

March 23, 2014 | 4:56

Practice Makeover: Episode 1

  • Published: February 03, 2014
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


Your Practice Partner

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

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.

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.

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

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

[MUSIC] Over the years Investment News has written about thousands of advisers who are having a hard time building their book of business. Now by partnering with some of the top adviser coaches we're here to help struggling advisers. Welcome to the first episode of Practice Makeover, the only series online dedicated to helping advisers grow their book of business. Welcome to Salisbury, North Carolina, a small town steeped in history, where you'll find 33,000 friendly Southerners and financial adviser, Trent Bradshaw. Trent and a small staff are overwhelmed, over worked, and over due for a practice makeover. We started Bradshaw Financial Planning seven years ago. I was in the bank channel prior to starting the firm. So when we started the independent firm, brought over very little in assets. So we ended up building the firm over the past seven years of about 120 million under-management. We built this business together. But we do spend a lot of time here at the office, and away from home. We don't get to spend as much time with our family as we would like to because we put in so many hours here. My major concern is that we aren't servicing our clients the way they deserve. And it's because we're three people. Trent reached out to use because he's facing a problem many advisor's face. He's maxed out. There's not enough hours in the day to do everything that he needs to do, to manage his existing client relationships, to run his business and to try to attract new clients at the same time. So in order to help Trent, the first thing we have to do is complete our discovery process. Before we can help him get where he wants to be, we have to first understand where he is. And so we're excited to get started with him today. [MUSIC] Alright Trent, obviously you're doing a lot of things great. Let's talk about what challenges you're facing. Right now, if you look at your practice, 30,000 foot view what are some of the biggest things on a day to day basis that make your job challenging for you? I would say primarily time management. We've got a staff of three. And we manage, roughly little bit more than a $120 million in assets. But again trying to do that within a 40-hour week has been very challenging. Right now, we are probably working anywhere from 60 to 70 hours on a weekly basis. Wow. Why do you think that is? Just from the sheer number of clients that we have got, we service about 375 households. 375 households is way too many. For one adviser typically, I encourage them to stay under 150. There's no average here. I mean ,I see advisers all over the board. A lot of it depends on how scalable their office is. If all that adviser has to do is meet with those clients, well, they can manage more. If the adviser has to do everything, like in Trent's cases currently. Then they certainly can't have that many households, 370 is off the charts. What percentage of the day would you say is spent doing the things that you say as an advisor are uniquely qualified to do so managing assets, meeting with clients? I'm going to go ahead and say for the advisor's side of it, probably between 35 and 40 percent. So I'm dedicating anything from 60 to 65 percent on activities that I probably shouldn't be doing. So I asked Trent how he spends his typical day. And he spends usually about three appointments per day meeting with clients or prospects, for a total of around three and a half, four hours. So, that being said, all the rest of his day is spent on administrative tasks. He's doing paperwork, he's placing trades, he's following up on things that he should have an assistant following up on. And that's sucking his time, and that's the reason he's working so much overtime. What systems, do you think need to be in place for you, in this practice? That would equip those employees to do those task instead of you. We need to have a new client procedure. We need to have prospect procedure. We need to have several procedures established so everybody knows how to operate from A to Z. Yeah. So, what systems do you completed that you're happy with? Probably our, our prospecting. Our actual new prospect procedure when they come in. I think we provide the so called red carpet treatment for those individuals. We also do it for our current clients, high net worth clients. We think we do a really good job of that. But again having those procedures nailed down on paper, we don't have 'em, we need 'em. So you have a new prospect procedure that you're happy with. You do not have a new client procedure? Do not. Do you have a process for conducting client reviews? I do. Okay. Is it automated? No. Okay, Do you have a procedure for client follow up? I do. Is it automated? No. Okay. Do you have a procedure for tracking when accounts are funded? No. I wasn't shocked that Trent has a lack of automation because I see this a lot. What's happening now though is he's reaching critical mass. So many advisers can sustain their practice this way for a while. They get 50, 60, 70 million, they're doing okay. And then, all of a sudden, they start to really sweat. And they can't handle anymore. And that's what happened in Trent's case. Now he's got 370 households, 125 million under management and he's about to explode. Do you have a process for making sure that when clients, when those milestones are hit as they're coming on board, that you're following up with them and updating them? We do not. So how does that happen now? Me manually telling the staff it's day three, we need to reach out to the client let them know where we're at. Wow. When the assets hit, call the client, let them know the assets hit. Day 14, let them know the trades have been placed. You personally, follow the money, Right. And you tell the staff when to follow up with the client. And then you follow up with the client. I do. And then, after they become a client, how is it determined when they have their reviews? I tell the staff. Okay. Where, where they're gonna fall as far as number of reviews, face-to-face, phone interviews, whatever it happens to be. One of the challenges Trent is facing is related to micromanagement. Management. So instead of, for example, letting a client go through the normal process when they become a client of, they get a phone call at day five or day six, or day ten. And their new accounts are funded on this day, and somebody's managing that process, and watching it for him, and notifying him if there's a problem, he's doing it all himself. So he literally watches that account every day and then tells his staff when to call that client and what to say. And you just can't do that as an adviser, and manage all the other things that you have to manage. You're a busy man, I can't imaging how you're managing. Well when I say I work 60 or 65 hours a week, I'm working 100. We need to help you find the right people, we need to help you retain those people. They need assistance for how to do their jobs correctly. And, we need to take all the administrative tasks off your plate, so your time is free to do nothing but focus on managing client relationships. Right. And, finding new relationships. Absolutely. In Salsberry, where is the money? It's surprising. I, I would say it's I would say, it's everywhere. And when I say, everywhere, I'm talking, you would not realize, how successful and how wealthy this town is. Right now, most of Trent's clients are blue collar. In fact, about 85%. He wants to have more white collar clients, because he feels that's where the assets are. The challenge he's going to have is, right now there are certain things about his practice that are highly targeted at blue collar workers. And so, if he wants to move more towards attracting white collar clients, he's going to need to change some of the things about his messaging. And, the, his imaging and the way he presents his offering. I can tell you that just these four or five things that we've identified. Will keep us busy for a while. And I know they'll have a big impact on your practice. Well I think Robert hit on, about four or five issues that I think we have here in this practice. That I think they're definitely gonna be able to improve on, and help us develop systems to get there. So now that we've completed our discovery process and identified all the areas of opportunity in Trent's practice. Next step is for me to go back, meet with my team and put together the action plan. Next time on practice makeover. Had a great meeting with Trent Bradshaw. Excellent adviser. Believe it or not he only has two employees and 370 clients. Oh my goodness. He's doing almost $2 million in production or over a million with two employees. He's doing over a million in production. Does he realize that he has a micromanagement issue? He does realize it. He was slowly to admit it, but yes, he does. What is he trying to accomplish? Why did he call us? Quality of life is his biggest concern. So when he looks down the road three to five years, what he really wants is to be working 35 to 40 hours a week instead of 70 to 100. Now you guys have heard the problems, let's talk about solutions. [MUSIC]

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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