Outside-IN

Why our firm hired a data geek instead of another financial adviser

Kathryn Brown says the position has made every other role at Morton Brown Family Wealth more productive and has transformed their platform from data storage into data action

May 21, 2019 @ 11:46 am

By Kathryn Brown

Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to gain customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable as a result, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

In my nearly 20 years of working in personal wealth management and over a decade in an ownership role, I have come to recognize many trends within our industry, particularly hiring patterns. Historically, as firms grow, the staffing pattern looks something like this:

1 – Lead adviser

2 – Administrative support

3 – Junior adviser

4 – Repeat

Eventually, hire number 11 or 12 will be a marketing or operations position when the owner determines there are too many activities to manage.

But what if you reset the prioritization? What if you accelerated the business hiring to the forefront? And rather than seeking a broad operational role, what if you pinpointed a data engineer to take the strategies of the firm and make them measurable and actionable?

With the launch of Morton Brown Family Wealth in 2018, we knew we could create a platform to serve our clients, but we wanted to build the foundation for a successful, enduring business. We think intentionally about the role of every new hire, every piece of technology and every client-experience interaction. That is why we sought and have hired our own internal data champion. Her job is to analyze firm activities, inputs, outputs and time to ensure all positions are supported and properly focused. As the owner of our calendars and client relationship manager, she transforms our platform from data storage into data action. With her insights we can be responsive to client demands and preferences as well as understand the true cost of the work being completed.

(More: Innovate or else: Advisers must leave the comfort zone before it's too late)

The beauty of this position, however, is that the application of data analysis goes far beyond understanding the client work — it touches and informs all aspects of our business. With advancements in fintech, building out workflows and systems to support our business-development and client-experience playbooks has never been easier. At the end of each week, month and quarter we know exactly how many meetings and how much time was spent with clients, prospects, centers of influence — and on the business itself.

This allows us to identify trends and bottlenecks. Suddenly we have clarity on our future hiring needs, technology opportunities and growth potential. As business management expert Peter Drucker preached, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."

Instead of following along the natural hiring evolution, we broke the mold. And you can too. Take a minute to assess how well you know your business. Do you know in dollars and cents the cost of each service deliverable? Do you know the average number of days and the significant milestones of developing a new client relationship? We all want to improve our processes and profitability, but we are often unsure what the next step should be. Seize the opportunity to stop guessing and take a look at the data.

Kathryn Brown is a founder and principal of Morton Brown Family Wealth. She can be reached at kbrown@mortonbrownfw.com.

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