Website offers quick advice for business growth

A minimum of $750 gets advisers solutions in three areas

Jul 28, 2008 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers typically spend months working with a business consultant to develop a plan for expanding their firms, and face a bill of at least several thousand dollars.

But a new website, Advisors TrustedAdvisor.com, offers an alternative approach for advisers who want quicker, trimmed-down advice for less money.

Advisers choose a business topic with which they want help, answer a series of questions about their firm and pay with a credit card. Within 48 hours they receive a set of solutions via e-mail, according to the site's owners.

The Collaborative for Business Development, which has been selling business consulting advice to financial firms for 13 years, launched the site this month. The results that advisers receive through the website offer "actionable advice" based on The Collaborative's understanding of both the financial marketplace and options available to investment firms, said website co-founder Beverly Flaxington.

"This self-service option is for the busy adviser who doesn't want to spend time dealing with consultants, but needs help," she said. "We want to provide a way to get quick answers that they can take and work with right away."

The topics from which advisers can choose on the website include managing growth, building up business, deploying technology more effectively, human resources support, expanding client referrals, retaining the right people, training, boosting efficiency and managing the back office, said Ms. Flaxington, who also founded The Collaborative, based in Medfield, Mass. She co-founded the new website with Mike Slemmer, who is a principal at The Collaborative.

RATING THEIR FIRMS

The online questions require advisers to rate how well their businesses perform certain functions and tasks.

The consulting firm analyzes their answers and e-mails them recommendations about how to fix areas that the adviser has deemed need improvement. The answers are returned within two days, Ms. Flaxington said.

"These are tactical solutions that will help anyone who can identify their weakest areas," she said.

The prepared answers have been proven to work for the firm's consulting clients, who range from single advisers to large financial companies such as Fidelity Investments of Boston and GE Asset Management Inc. of Stamford, Conn., Ms. Flaxington said.

On the website, advisers pay a minimum of $750 for solutions in three areas.

"We have found that advisory problems require a minimum of three tactical steps to see improvements," Ms. Flaxington said.

Traditional consulting services with The Collaborative cost as little as $3,000 for a small firm with a few goals up to $100,000 for large firms with many needs, she said.

One area for which advisers may find the website especially useful is technology, its owners said.

The Collaborative conducted a survey in May of 322 advisers asking them to choose three of the most troublesome issues out of a list of 10, and many of the top concerns involve technology, Ms. Flaxington said. The top three problem areas were document management, customer relationship management and portfolio management, she said.

"Technology has evolved with one system here and another there, and there is less available that pulls it all together to work for the adviser," Ms. Flaxington said.

The question-and-answer process that website clients go through is similar to the approach that The Collaborative takes with a new consulting customer. The process helps firms clarify their problem areas, which is the first step toward finding a solution, Ms. Flaxington said.

Leaders of Ascent Capital Management LLC, which is working with The Collaborative on a plan to help Ascent double its $100 million in assets under management, agree. Ascent has improved the efficiency of client flow and streamlined its client interaction to boost overall efficiency of the firm with the consulting firm's help, said Scott Agnew, a partner in the Bend, Ore., firm.

The Collaborative asked questions about the firm to learn as much as possible about its operations, and that inquiry process actually helped Ascent focus, he said.

"They really took the time to understand the complexity of our organization in working out a strategy," Mr. Agnew said.

The information offered through AdvisorsTrustedAdvisor.com won't be customized like the detailed plans that The Collaborative is working on with Ascent, which has been a client for about five months. In some cases, business issues are too complex for advisers to use the website for solutions, Ms. Flaxington said.

UNDERSTAND THE BUSINESS

For instance, WealthTrust LLC, a holding company for wealth and asset management firms that serve wealthy clients, has been working with The Collaborative on a branding campaign over the past few months.

Holly Deem, chief operating officer of Nashville, Tenn.-based Wealth- Trust, which owns a stake in firms with a combined $8.5 billion in assets under management, said that she was impressed by how knowledgeable The Collaborative's professionals were about the advisory business.

"They understand the [registered investment adviser] business and where it is headed," she said. "They've done their own research on both the business and technology aspects of the industry, and both of those have proven helpful to us."

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Upcoming Event

Nov 13

Conference

Best Practices Workshop

For the sixth year, InvestmentNews will host the Best Practices Workshop & Awards, bringing together the industry’s top-performing and most influential firms in one room for a full-day. This exclusive workshop and awards program for the... Learn more

Featured video

Events

An end-to-end solution for advisers

With so much confusion around fintech, advisers need guidance. David Lyon of Oranj offers a true "north star" in a jumbled industry.

Latest news & opinion

Step one: Withdraw from the broker protocol

Pulling out of the protocol proved to be one part of multipronged strategies by Morgan Stanley and UBS to reduce broker attrition. So far, their plans seem to be working.

11 best islands in the world to retire to

International Living has come up with a list of affordable islands around the world.

SEC tests show investors don't understand disclosure form for brokers, advisers

Investor advocates: Agency still has a lot of work to do on Form CRS

Wells Fargo considering sale of retirement-plan unit

The business could fetch as much as $1 billion, sources say.

Employees can now save in a 401(k) by using a credit card

EvoShare provides workers with credit-card perks in the form of contributions to a retirement plan.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print