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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.

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.

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.

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.

Vanessa Oligino

Vanessa Oligino

Director, Business Performance Solutions, 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.

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.


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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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.

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.

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.


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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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