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How Financial Planners Can Make Summer Prospecting Enjoyable and Easy

The summer season sends many financial practices into the doldrums. Business-building efforts don’t stop completely, but they sure slow down. Clients might be away or not interested in coming to the office, and advisers and staff likely have days off or extended vacations booked. Summer days drift away from one to the next without much impact. Then September comes—and advisers realize the end of the year is going to arrive before they’re ready for it. And what were those business growth goals, again?

The Perfect Time to Prospect

This year, why not spend the dog days of summer building your business? Of course, have fun and enjoy some leisure time off, but also think of all the ways you can boost your firm’s visibility and attract your ideal clients. To help get you started, consider the following ideas—they will delight your community and are loaded with great prospecting opportunities.

Summer safety session. Schedule a summer safety session and invite parents and grandparents with young children. For example, a session titled “Keep the Kids Safe This Summer” could attract lots of people. For added reach—and a community event worthy of PR—invite a few guest speakers such as a pediatrician, lifeguard or water safety instructor. Whether you discuss sunburn, poison ivy, ticks or water hazards, a safety session can attract both clients and prospects. Take pictures, give small gifts of bubbles or sidewalk chalk, and you’ve got great talking points and pictures for your website and LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

Sports team sponsorship. Consider sponsoring a sports team for the summer. Think about it: your firm’s name and logo will appear on T-shirts worn by little kids trying to hit a ball off a tee or score their first goal in soccer. The pictures alone will make it worth the investment, as many towns put pictures of kids’ teams in local newspapers and on their websites. But you can do so much more:

  • Take pictures and put them on your website, with captions such as, “We’re proud to sponsor the Riverdale Green Hornets!”
  • Go to games and meet the parents and grandparents of the players.
  • Invite some of your clients to attend a game with you.
  • Sponsor a pizza party at the end of the season and mingle with the parents.
  • Bring popsicles or ice cream treats for the players and fans.

These simple activities can have a huge effect and get you talked about in the community, for very little expense.

Community events. If you’re a solo adviser or small firm, create an event for your clients that leverages a bigger event in your area. Many towns hold free summer concerts in a local park or show family movies on a big screen in a nearby field or stadium. Check out your local town’s recreation brochure or website to see what’s available, decide on a guest list and make your plans accordingly.

  • For clients with children, invite them to join you to watch family-friendly choices or the movie of the week. Tell them you’ll have blankets and refreshments ready and where you’ll be set up in the park. Bring coolers of soft drinks or ice cream novelties, have some boxes of movie candy and popcorn on hand, and you’re done!
  • For older clients, be sure you have lawn chairs available so that people will be comfortable, and bring some blankets in case the weather cools. If your town allows it, a simple wine and cheese picnic held outside while listening to music could be something your clients talk about long afterwards. And, of course, let your clients know their friends are welcome to join in the fun.

Ice cream social. Do you have a popular ice cream stand in your area? If so, invite clients to join you on a certain date and time and treat them to the ice cream of their choice. Yes, it really can be that simple! People are always looking for an excuse to get out in the summer, and who can turn down an ice cream cone? Especially one with sprinkles. Plus, you’ll be sponsoring a local business and having fun at the same time.

Putting Smiles in Your Posts

No matter what event you choose, don’t forget the power of pictures! Posting heartwarming photos of your events is an incredibly valuable way to spread your firm’s name and gain community goodwill. (Remember, you’ll need to get client approval for picture use, but most are happy to give permission.) Here are some simple ways to share the fun:

  • Post the pictures on your website, Facebook or LinkedIn page, or other social media platforms.
  • Send clients an email and attach a few pictures that they (or their children) are featured in. Your clients can post the photos to their personal Facebook pages—and hopefully mention your firm.
  • Create a collage of the pictures from your event and hang it in your reception area or conference room. This makes a great visual for prospects.

Making the Summer Sizzle

Summer can be the ideal time to plant the seeds for future growth. With some careful planning and creativity, you can turn the slow days of summer into growth momentum for your business.  Kristine_McManus_2_lg

Kristine McManus is chief business development officer, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, the nation’s largest privately held Registered Investment Adviser—independent broker/dealer. Since joining the firm in April 2014, she has been working with affiliated advisers to grow their top line through the introduction of various programs, tools and coaching. Kristine holds the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM designation, a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a BFA from Adelphi University.


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Reinvention: Why It’s Required to Drive Lasting Success

Do you want your business to outlast you? Some advisers set this goal when they design a firm. For others, the focus comes as they anticipate transitioning their business to a new generation of ownership when they approach the end of their career.

There are no universals when it comes to timing for the business life cycle. The life cycle is the pace at which a practice evolves from inception to growth, maturity and eventually a final stage of decline. If there is no intervention to reinvent the firm, the natural life cycle of the business will rule. The length of each phase is unpredictable. For example, growth can come in a year or develop over many years. But is there a universal requirement for creating success that will endure? Yes. It’s the willingness to reinvent your business.

What Does Reinvention Require?

Reinvention requires a magnitude of change that ushers in an entirely new approach to doing business. For example, the introduction of the robo-adviser created a radically different way to work with clients. No matter what you think of this technology, it was radical enough to disrupt the industry. Since “robo-advice” was introduced, it has been continually improved. Today, the digital approach has morphed to add human service components. In turn, advice given by human advisers has shifted to include digital components. Another client-centric reinvention is the growing interest in responsible investing, as advisers respond to client demand by integrating environmental, social and governance factors into investment decision-making. These are only two examples of reinvention, but they demonstrate its essence: major transformation in response to market forces and industry changes.

Beyond Continual Improvement

Reinvention differs from the concept of continual improvement. Many advisers rightfully believe their business is improving all the time. Improvements may include streamlining the way data is collected from clients, implementing enhancements to customer relationship management, adopting new technology, updating forms for greater efficiency and enhancing internal communication. Although continual improvement is needed to run a solid business, it’s not as radical as reinvention.

Timing Is Everything

Every business is different, but one thing is clear: reinvention is essential long before a practice reaches the decline stage. If one waits that long, it will be too late to save the business. The faster the pace of industry change, the greater the need for reinvention. As such, an adviser needs to be prepared to reinvent his or her practice. In fact, it is likely that radical change will need to happen multiple times to keep a firm in the growth stage. The greatest danger is waiting too long to begin the reinvention process. Maturity can be a long or short phase. This means that strategic shifts should be part of every firm’s business planning process.

Is Age a Factor?

It isn’t a factor for everyone, of course. But as advisers age, some understandably do not embrace change with the same enthusiasm of their younger years. Many advisers keep all their energy focused on their next client meeting. Why stir the pot with worries of reinvention when business is good or when an adviser is moving to a lifestyle practice? Most advisers love meeting with their clients. The responsibilities of being the CEO and running a business pale in comparison. But if advisers lose passion for leading their business, it’s not likely that they will be leading the reinvention process. To guard against unforeseen problems, advisers entering the home stretch of their careers need to incorporate additional focus on strategic direction as part of the business planning process.

Nurturing the Life Cycle of Your Business

Some advisers might think that reinvention—a change of magnitude—is not possible due to the constraints of industry providers and government regulations. I believe that, despite these limitations, every adviser is empowered to adapt to change and adopt new tools, technology and practice models at every stage of a career and the life cycle of a business. The key is to embrace reinvention to keep the firm in the growth stage.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web

Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.


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Learn to See Yourself Clearly Through the Johari Window

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Michael Futterman speaks at a general session at last month’s FPA Retreat.

When I’ve watched Phil Jackson coach basketball teams, it always struck me as significant that Michael Jordan didn’t go that route. Jackson and Jordan had great synergy and Jordan offered so much guidance to the Chicago Bulls.

Then again, it’s easy to attribute positive qualities to professional athletes. These hard workers are usually filled with a drive for excellence, they work well around people with a shared intensity, they have a unique ability to thrive under pressure and they condition themselves to rise to challenges.

Many of these skills helped my client, a former professional athlete, become a successful adviser. Branch management recognized his growth and recommended he take on a partner and two or three junior advisers to further grow his business.

Unfortunately, not every athlete is meant to become a coach. Being good at something doesn’t mean you are good at teaching it. Tragically, many skilled people fail to see the limits of their capability. As we train clients to build superior teams through the Knowledge Labs™ Elements of Extraordinary Teamwork, we often find that a healthy dose of self-awareness can help put people on the right track to working better with those they need to help grow their business.

A few short months later, I sat in my client’s office listening to him express frustration and anger with his junior advisers. Exasperated, my client said, “I emailed how I do it! I don’t get what’s so difficult to understand!”

What is the Johari Window and How Can It Help?

As I listened to my client explain the problems at his office, I realized a tool called the Johari Window would have come in handy before the new staff members joined his team. Created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, the Johari Window is composed of four quadrants:

The open quadrant: things you know about yourself and peers know about you. The open quadrant contains obvious or explicit information. Although it’s helpful, this material can obscure or influence the information in other quadrants. For example, one might see my client, a successful adviser, and assume he will be adept at training junior advisers.

The hidden quadrant: things you know about yourself that other people don’t know. Based on his background, branch management felt my client would be comfortable engaging in the journey that growing a new team often requires. I asked a couple of questions and learned something my client knew, but his peers didn’t.

I asked him why he chose to email directions to junior advisers, instead of talking with them, and he revealed that he felt sitting down and walking them through things step by step is frustrating. “Do you always get frustrated when you’re teaching people?” I probed.

“Yes. I had to get my son a math tutor because I get angry if he doesn’t pick things up fast enough,” my client said.

This response gave both of us insight into something we hadn’t recognized, but I’m sure his junior advisers were privately frustrated by every day—his unapproachability. The Johari Window model refers to this quadrant as a blind spot, which means your peers know something about you that you don’t know about yourself. While branch management might have quickly realized he was overmatched in the role of leader or coach, the client’s pride and quick temper made it difficult to tell him that.

My client is a great team player and highly motivated self-starter, who never had a management role. The fact that no one knew he would be poorly suited for the task illustrates the last quadrant of the Johari Window, the unknown.

Unknowns are things that neither you nor your peers know about you. The value in developing greater shared awareness is that it allows us to more quickly address the unknowns when they come to light. Creating strategies to increase illumination of the blind and hidden quadrants is our goal.

In this case, my client’s partner became responsible for the day-to-day people management, so my client could focus on his other strengths. Developing self-awareness before you bring on new team members is key to understanding what kinds of personalities work best in your office. Additionally, seeing yourself clearly in a situation can help you determine if your message and your method of sharing it are effective for your team.

In my client’s case we used the Johari Window to help us discover that being a great adviser comes as naturally to him, as being a great basketball player came to Michael Jordan. But the Michaels around us need self-awareness to help the team thrive.

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared on the Janus Henderson Blog. See it here. Michael Futterman will also present a Knowledge Circle webinar “How Self-Awareness Impacts Team Functioning,” on May 30 at 2 p.m., EDT. Mark your calendar or simply join the Zoom meeting at that time. A workbook for the call is available also. FPA members can download it here.

Michael Futterman

Michael Futterman is an assistant vice president, Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development at Janus Henderson Investors. In this role, Futterman works with the Professional Development team on research and curriculum development for the professional development programs. He is a frequent speaker and coach to adviser and client audiences. Futterman leverages his experience with Outward Bound, management consulting firms and the financial services industry to bring innovative, engaging and thought-provoking content to his clients.

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