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Practice Makeover: Season 1

Practice Makeover: Episode 3

Mar 7, 2014 @ 12:00 am

Runtime: 13:52

Episode three of "Practice Makeover" sees makeover recipient Trent Bradshaw presented with actionable solutions to his firm's three biggest problems.

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

I'm so glad Trent was open to making the time to really document his daily activities over the course of two weeks. This is something our team often asks advisers to do. While Trent seems to have a realistic grasp on how much time he's spending on tasks that he could delegate to a competent staff person or outsourcing provider, this exercise will shed some serious light on the activities he truly wants off his plate.

Asking someone like Trent-a highly conscientious, successful adviser who cares about his clients' well-being-to stop micromanaging staff and trust them with all the daily tasks he's used to overseeing is a difficult thing. However, it is necessary for Trent to do this if he really wants a better work/life balance.

Creating job descriptions for all employees and then holding them accountable to the tasks for which they're responsible will go a long way toward building Trent's confidence that his firm's daily processes can carry on smoothly, whether he is directly involved with them or not.

Trent should also brainstorm with his team to build and document all the steps and workflow associated with each recurring client or prospect process within his business model. Once he begins to feel like he can trust (through experience and time) that the processes he has taken the time to explicitly outline and communicate are being executed properly and to his standards, Trent can actually start pulling himself out of the minutiae and focusing again on growing his business, spending more time with family, and generally enjoying more peace of mind.

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Frank Maselli

Frank Maselli

Founder of The Financial Lifeguard Academy and The Maselli Group

I pretty much agree with the broad strokes of the plan that was presented to Trent. I like the idea of developing job descriptions and logging all his daily activities for two weeks.

I disagree with the idea of getting referrals from "the movable middle" of his client base. That's almost the exact opposite approach that I recommend with referrals. Top advisers don't really want referrals from the bulk of their clients. They want to "clone" their top 10 people. This is the only real way to migrate the business upstream and begin to focus on higher-net-worth households. Trent doesn't need another 200 clients, he needs another 10 wealthy clients.

Trent's reluctance to look more "polished" is funny, but it's who he is and it's tremendously marketable. This can actually become a compelling brand identity. The image I would love to see him begin to create for his practice is "Sophisticated financial solutions...with a down home feel." This fits his market and yet sends the message that you don't need to wear a three-piece suit to bring world-class financial services to people. The potential imagery is fantastic. Give me a picture of him leaning up against a John Deere next to a guy getting out of a Bentley. Or a close-up of muddy work boots next to a pair of Italian wing tips.

So he's on the way to making some good changes. Now we need to see how he implements the strategies he's been given.

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April J. Rudin

April J. Rudin

President of the Rudin Group

The adviser feedback for Trent was borderline "therapy" rather than anything to do with a "practice makeover." Trent's personality is about 180 degrees from what the recommendations for improvements he was given. While Trent appeared to accept and want to make changes, the "ask" was way too much. He simply cannot change his personality in such a drastic manner.

Trent is better left to do tasks that he is comfortable doing, and good at. Executing trades may be an "administrative" task, but I feel Trent would be better served hiring a business development person who can manage the prospecting, client relationships, and bringing in business. Trent expressed hesitation with social media as he is simply not the type to be pithy or engaging. He has done a great job at building his business but he is reluctant to "fire" clients as he says during this episode, too. Robert also mentioned client events, another area Trent was completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable with.

I feel the better solution is to have Trent manage the inside operation, and hire staff to support him in that endeavor. He cannot use LinkedIn to find an assistant because he doesn't know how.

Trent needs to stay in his lane and do the things that he is comfortable with, and good at doing. Everything else should be delegated. He needs to hire an agency to find him the right person for his administrative job. One that would screen for personality profiles, and other factors that would make the employee a good fit within Trent's system. He needs to hire a business development person who would be responsible for handling client events, social media, blogging, etc. That individual could handle client prospecting and ultimately bring them to Trent to close. The business development hire would create new and stronger relationships with referrals as well.

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Vanessa Oligino

Vanessa Oligino

Senior Program Manager, Practice Management, TD Ameritrade Institutional

Trent has reached a tipping point where he can no longer continue the way he has been doing business and achieve the balance he seeks between his professional and personal lives. Fortunately, Trent is one step ahead of many of the advisers we work with at this stage of a practice's evolution: he has an awareness of how his management style contributes to inhibiting the future growth of his firm.

In our work with advisers, the most difficult challenge to overcome for advisers like Trent is the ability to let go. Letting go enables an adviser to transition from a "solo" to a "team" mindset, where other team members can take ownership and be held accountable for specific functions within the firm.

As an adviser works through this transition, we encourage them to first take a step back and understand where their passions lie and where they can best contribute to the firm. For most advisers, this is in either a client relationship management or business development role. Second, once they have decided where they would like to focus their efforts, we encourage them to identify additional functions they are performing today that other employees within the firm can take on. Third, the adviser needs to be open to changing how things are done and encourage employees to think creatively about their positions.

This transition will take time while all the parties involved gain confidence in the capabilities and competencies of their colleagues to perform at the level required. In our experience, advisers who overcome their fear of letting go are pleasantly surprised to learn how liberating it can be and, in many cases, even admit that things are running better than they ever have.

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Mark Matson

Mark Matson

CEO of Matson Money

Mr. Bradshaw has no leverage in his business. Hiring more people may relieve that, but probably only temporarily. Many times advisers fall into the trap of trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Some things you just have to give up in order to be more successful and have a better quality of life. Delegation and elimination are the keys for Mr. Bradshaw's success. Some delegation can come through internal sources and even external sources. Outsourcing his back office would build a large amount of leverage in his practice. Also, coaching in groups will enable him to build his community from within which will minimize one-on-one meetings and create a constant stream of referrals. My observation has been that clients have a better, more engaging experience in a group setting.

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Paul West

Paul West

Managing Director, Peak Advisor Alliance

The coaches in this episode provided a lot of sound thinking. However, due to the volume of ideas presented, it would be difficult for any adviser to digest and implement them all at once. Advisers that no longer want to take stress home need to focus on one thing: improving their efficiencies. Mr. Bradshaw should focus on implementing processes that integrate the client experience in a streamlined fashion. He has a lot of clients for that amount of revenue. While the suggestions for passion prospecting, improving referrals, and dressing for success may all be beneficial for new client acquisition, those don't match the core objective. Top advisers find ways to remove non-generating revenue activities off their plate in an efficient and cost-effective manner. If Trent tries to implement all the ideas in this episode at the same time, he will have implementation struggles. To realize his goal of working fewer hours without compromising the client experience, Trent needs to not only take a hard look at his use of technology, but enlist his staff members in finding new ways to streamline and simplify processes. Can he reduce the number of in-person meetings yet still give the client the same experience and frequency of contact they desire? Success can be greatly enhanced by setting goals with specific measurements and completion dates.

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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.

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Video Transcript

[MUSIC]. It's time to lay out our plan for Trent. We're excited about it, but we're not sure about how he's gonna take it. So let's lay it out and see what he thinks. Well, Trent, we've really enjoyed this process. You've built a really nice business here and I can tell you care a lot about your clients, and the discovery that we did, I took all that back, I met with my team, and we have some really, really good recommendations for you that I'm looking forward to sharing. That being said, you also have some fairly serious challenges to overcome, as I think you know, and, candidly, I'm worried about you. I'm worried about you because I know your quality of life is suffering. I'm even worried about your marriage because you and your wife don't get to enjoy your evenings and weekends. You don't get to enjoy the time with your kids that you want because you spend so much time working. And I'm sure that's something that you'll want to get back, your quality of life, wouldn't you say? Absolutely. Yeah. So, so this whole, plan that we put in place for you is centralized on helping you take back your life. And we're doing that by focusing on three key areas of your practice that are all designed to help you free up your time, make sure you can get and keep the staff you need to make your life easier, and help ensure that you're taking on the right clients, so that all your time isn't getting stolen away from you. Well, I think, I think he touched on a lot of deficiencies that we do have and I'm excited about seeing some of the action plans that he's gonna bring back and implement into our firm. The first part involves getting you the help you need. Have you heard the expression human capital before? Absolutely, it's very important. Yeah, and it alludes to the fact that your people are your biggest asset. Right. And right now, you just don't have enough of those kinds of assets. Well, I don't. The entire staff's stressed out. We know we're there. Mm-hm. And we do need help. We just got to find the right people to, to be in the office with us. What positions do you feel that you need to fill right away? I think administrative, is gonna be priority, and then, secondly probably an, associate adviser, to assist me. Good. And that's the order I recommend. But there are two specific positions, that we need to fill, just like you said. Not just an administrative assistant, but you need a registered administrative assistant. You need somebody who's securities-licensed. Because all of those trades that you're placing on your own, takes up a lot of your time. Right. And that's one of the things that we're gonna encourage you to delegate. How do you feel about that? Great. Just like to move forward again and find the right person. Finding the right person is a process. And you can't typically just put an ad in and have the right person show up. I mean, in the past, that hasn't been the case. We have not had success running an ad and getting the right person. Right. Even finding a candidate much, Mm-hm. Yeah. Well there's a few things that we need to do. One is we need to run an ad in the right place. So there are some excellent industry resources where you can run ads and we'll talk about some of those. Also, we're gonna help you learn to do some prospecting on LinkedIn. So you can actually have a premium account and go through and do some headhunting, maybe even from your competition in the area. Okay? So that's an area where we can help you get to the right people. Does that sound good to you? It does. But social media is a little bit intimidating, Mm-hm. So the guidance would definitely be much appreciated there. We'll give you all the training you need. Related to that, though, there is one thing that is a bit sensitive. But I think you know this. Employees that you've hired in the past, what do you think are the reasons that they haven't lasted here? I don't know if it's a lack of training. huh. It's just a change of an environment from where they've been in the past. Mm-hm. Or the demands of the job. Do you think it's possible that there's also the micromanaging that you do that affects those people? That, that's a huge part. I've had a real problem letting that go. From the simplest task of, of, of the client requesting a check. Mm-hm. I'll always wanna follow up and make sure that it's been done. Although the, there's probably a 100% chance that it was, I do have a problem letting the simplest task go. Losing the ability to micromanage is gonna be intimidating to me, because, again, I've done that for years and years and years, probably around 13 at this point. I do think that that will lower my stress, tremendously, if I'm able to let some of those, administrative activities go. The thing about great people is they don't need to be micromanaged. See, great people, they need latitude- Right To do their job well. The people who need micromanaging are people you don't want. Right. So if we find the right candidates, we train them well, we hold them to a written standard, and then we give the latitude to do their job. Your life is gonna be much easier. When it comes to delegating, Trent, which is really the second point of this, as smart as you are with your experience and your credentials, I firmly believe you can do anything that you wanna do. But you can't do everything that you wanna do. I think I honestly try. I think you do. It's obvious that you do. And, you know, it's noble because you wanna do the best thing for your clients and it may be that you're the best guy for job. But that's just not reality. The surest way to an early grave is to never learn what to delegate, how to delegate it, and when to delegate it. Not taking that stress home will definitely improve my life there. An-, and that's one of the main goals here. I need you to read a book. It's called The Decision Maker. Unlock the potential of everyone in your organization. I'm gonna give you a copy of it. Think you could find time to read it? Should be able to. Okay, good. So that's one thing. We wanna start, you to start thinking about the power of delegation in a good way rather than as a negative. But there's some actionable items also that we're going to assist you with. For one thing, we need to identify every single task that you do in the course of a day. For the next two weeks, can I get you to keep a yellow pad by your desk or a document on the desktop of your computer, and start documenting all the tasks that you handle? Sure. If the client wants a withdrawal and you process that, if you do a reallocation, if you fill out a new account form, if you place a trade, if you check your email. Whatever you do, just document those things for me. Because at some point we're gonna look at those and we're gonna say, okay, what does Trent have to do and what can somebody else do for Trent? And we're gonna shave off a portion of those tasks and we're gonna give them to other employees within your organization. Now, if you could monitor your business and have those things delegated to people you trust, but not have to do it yourself, you think that would have an impact on your quality of life? It would. I mean, it would probably cut, I'm gonna estimate 15 hours to 20 hours off my week. Well, that gets you down to 50. [LAUGH]. There you go. Now we only gotta trim ten more to get you where you want to be. Right. So that's, that's a big part of this initiative. And, also, creating job descriptions for each employee. So what you need is, for Heather, for Crystal, for your new registered assistant, and for your associate wealth adviser, you need job descriptions to detail every single task they are responsible for. And, that way, you know who you can hold accountable if there ever is a breakdown. The third part is related to attracting more clients. Specifically, the type of clients you want. Now, here's the thing. We can't even begin to help you with that process until we get these other things in order, because I don't believe you can handle many more clients. It's gonna be tough. I, I've got currently, again, around $120 million in assets, about 375 households. So, I'm pretty much pushed to the max at this point. Now, here's the thing. I'm not gonna ask you to fire the bottom 30% of your book. Well, I'd have a hard time doing that because those clients have been loyal to me and I'm gonna show that same level of loyalty to them. Yeah, and that's admirable. And I think that's a very good decision. In a small community like this, that could have a devastating impact on your business. I, I strongly believe that. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna make sure those people continue to get world class service. We're gonna make sure they continue to feel like Trent is part of their life and their business and their portfolios, but we're gonna bring somebody else in to help you manage those accounts. Again, I have this loyalty thing, that I've got a strong loyalty to my clients as they do to me, and I appreciate that. So, it's gonna have to be an extended transition for my clients to realize that all we're doing is providing greater service. Related to, moving upmarket, okay? Which is really the third piece because we bring in this, these people to help you. You're going to have the ability to scale your business a little more. You're going to have the ability the bring in an extra $10 to $30 million a year if you want to, right? So, in order to do that, there are some things we'll have to adjust in the way you do your business. We just want to refine your image a little bit, elevate the level of it, so people look at it and it appears a little bit more high end, right? A little more luxury, so it attracts those types of clients. Now I understand you have some concerns about that I do, I do. [INAUDIBLE] Well, we have a casual atmosphere inside the, the office itself, and I think our clients are currently comfortable with that. Mm-hm. To take a drastic approach to that style, I, I think could be intimidating. So you can't go from one extreme to the other. Imagine if, all of a sudden tomorrow, you started wearing a three piece suit and a tie. Everything in your lobby changed to dark mahogany and, rich woods and, you started pulling into the office in a Range Rover, and your clients would come in and what would they think? they, they would get the wrong impression. They would. So that's an extreme we don't wanna go to. If you do wanna attract higher net-worth clients, a little polish won't hurt. The balance you're gonna wanna strike is still comfortable, still at home, still Trent Bradshaw and, and Crystal Bradshaw here and Heather, the people you know and love, but we're a little more refined now. I think I can improve my wardrobe, but there are days where I think I will continue to go casual. But again, I definitely wanna hear their recommendations. Additionally, you have a huge untapped marketplace within your own client base. Those 370 households are a gold mine. You're already getting referrals from some, but you're not getting referrals from all of them. And here's how it usually works. On one extreme, you're gonna have clients who will always give you referrals. You're experiencing that now, because you're doing a great job and they're giving you referrals. Right. On other other extreme, you have a portion of your client base who will never give you referrals. But then you have this movable middle of people who will give you referrals if the opportunity is created for them to do that. And it's easy. And they have the right motivation in place to give you referrals. So where that comes into play is in assisting you to leverage that port, part of your book of business for referrals. Client events, intimate social events, and other related prospecting efforts. Getting involved with charity events. Creating a forum for your clients to come to and introduce their friends and family to you in a social setting. Well, does that incorporate things that I enjoy, specifically, outside of just the clients? Absolutely. Okay. That's a must because it's, it's passion prospecting. You see, if somebody sees, hey, Trent loves this thing and I love this thing, now, you have a common bond. Right. And that's a good reason to ext-, continue that relationship into another setting. I do think there's an untapped gold mine in my business by, by tapping that middle market of my client base. We've tried to do several social events. We've tried to do educational events. And garner additional referrals from those events. To this ti-, to this day, we haven't been that successful with it. Hopefully going forward, they can provide those ideas that we can, make that area gel. So, in summary, if you boil this down, the three parts are find the right people, and keep them, delegate the responsibilities that you absolutely don't have to do, and put systems and safeguards in place to ensure that you can be comfortable delegating those things. Right. Learn to delegate, right? And then, finally, helping you attract the clients and prospects that you want. Right. Now what do you think about this plan? I'm excited about it. I've been wanting to do this for years, we've gotten to the point where it's an absolute necessity. It, it's, it's amazing to me that everything that he touched on, was pretty much what I was thinking anyway. But really putting that action plan into play, I think we've got to have this coaching staff to be accountable to. I think it went really well. Trent seemed to take things okay. Some of the areas we talked about were very sensitive areas, but he seems eager to get started. And that's a really good quality. And he already knows that a lot of those things were challenges for him. I mean, I think he's grateful just to have some support to see them to, corrected. Well, Trent, this has been great, buddy. It has. I appreciate your time. Yeah. Thanks so much for letting me come. I'm looking very forward to getting started. Me too. Talk soon. All right. The first part of this process has gone great. But it's just the beginning of a really long journey. Trent seems to really get it, and I'm excited about that, but now what remains to be seen is if he will actually implement all the things that we've talked about. We work with a lot of advisers and many times we find they say, yes, yes, that sounds great. But when it comes down to taking action, there's a failure on their part. So we're looking forward to seeing in the next couple weeks, what Trent does with all the information we've given him. [MUSIC] [MUSIC]

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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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