1 Comment

How to Balance High Value and Time

What is one thing every business owner lacks? Time.

Time is one of the most valuable commodities as a business owner, making it imperative to strategically maximize.

A roadblock I see many business owners face is the struggle between providing high-value and having the time to do it. Every business wants to provide its clients with an optimal experience, adding unique value to the services it provides. But that isn’t always easy.

High-value is often equated with a ton of time. How can you add value to your services without sacrificing time? This blog post explores this question.

Expand Your Touchpoints

Touchpoints are the ways that your clients interact with you. Most often, this becomes synonymous with meetings. But a meeting, whether in person or virtual, often takes up a good chunk of time—time you could be spending on client work and growing your practice.

It should come as little surprise that people spend way too much time in meetings. According to a study documented in the Harvard Business Review, 65 percent of senior managers felt that meetings keep them from their own work and 71 percent reported their meetings to be unproductive. Entrepreneurs have little time to spend on meetings with the million other responsibilities on their plate: invoicing, payroll, internal growth, client work, marketing, etc.

So they need to find other ways to save time while still engaging their clients. That is why non-meeting touchpoints exist. When you expand the way you reach your clients, you are able to be more creative in

how you reach them. These touchpoints, while not in person, can still be personal. Between blogs, newsletters, videos, emails and more, you will be adding immense value to the client experience.

Remember, you don’t have to add more meetings to increase the value you provide.

Double Down on Your Content

If you are going to reduce your meeting workload, you’ll need to take some serious steps to implement a strong content marketing facet of your business.

Contrary to popular belief and current discourse, content marketing isn’t just to attract prospective clients. It is also used as a touchpoint for your current clients as well. Blogs, for example, are an excellent resource for you to add value to your client’s life. If, for example, you were going to chat about IRAs with your clients that month, put out a blog that focuses on the different types of IRAs and how it can work for them. This way, you are still giving them the information they need in a personal way that isn’t a meeting.

Take some time to think about your global communication strategy. How do you interact with your clients and how can that communication be improved? You could implement a monthly newsletter, updating your clients on the firm and a topic that you want to bring to their attention. Another idea is providing a quarterly market update.

Video is another excellent medium for communication, so you can send out monthly or quarterly videos, detailing upcoming dates or topics to keep in mind such as tax season, charitable giving and maxing out your 401(k) contributions.

Remember to consider your audience when you create your content. You can do this by brainstorming different subsections of your audience, or tag groups. For you that might be young adults or new business owners or pre-retirees. Take a look at the different sections of your audience and create content that is unique to them.

Increasing your client touchpoints supports a subscription billing structure. Since you have created a strategy to nurture and reach out to your clients through multiple channels, they won’t be surprised when the bill comes. If you only speak to them once per quarter and they receive a bill from you, they may not feel like they have received optimum value. But if they speak to you once per quarter, receive monthly newsletters and blogs and also a regular video update, you are providing more value to them and people will pay for valuable services.

When You Can, Automate

When you have multiple touchpoints: newsletters, blogs, videos, etc. it can be tough to organize all of the information and ensure it actually reaches your audience. That is where automation comes in.

Schedule your blog posts, newsletters and email updates. You can batch create or outsource your content and then from there plug them into your website and email service so you won’t have to think about it.

Every business owner wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. But since there isn’t, it is important to find scalable ways to maximize the impact of your time.

One way you can do that with your clients is by increasing non-meeting touchpoints by adding high-value content your audience will love.

Charesse Hagan

Charesse Hagan helps financial planners work smarter, grow their firms and offer exceptional services to their clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is an operations consultant at Charesse J. Hagan, LLC, and an FPA Coaches Corner coach for technology and operations. Find more resources from Hagan here.

1 Comment

5 Things About Incorporating DEI in RIA Firms with Daria Victorov and John Eing

Daria Victorov, CFP®, and John Eing, CPA, CFP®, of Abacus Wealth Partners have been avid listeners of the 2050 TrailBlazers podcast from the beginning. As a result, they teamed up to expand their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within their firm. 

Abacus Wealth Partners has made a lot of progress on building a diverse firm. Approximately 63 percent of their firm’s employees are women, which is well above the industry average, and 60 percent of their board members are women.

They were finding success with growing a diverse organization, but they also knew that there was work to be done to increase ethnic diversity. They decided to form a committee within Abacus focusing on growing their diversity initiatives. This committee develops strategies for next steps and evaluates how their DEI initiatives can help to boost business results. 

I recently sat down with Victorov and Eing on my podcast to discuss what actionable steps they’ve taken, what’s worked and what bumps in the road they’ve encountered that you can use to build an actionable blueprint to get started.

How did your diversity committee get started?

Victorov: We created “why” statements based on the book by Simon Sinek, Start with Why. Everyone knows what companies do. Some people know how they do it, but not everyone has a why. For us it was important to create that why statement—why are we interested in diversity and inclusion? Why are you here? Why do you want to make a difference? If John and I had different why statements compared to some other people that were on our committee, that wouldn’t really be helpful because we would all be coming at it from different angles. We have to work as a team with our committee. John and I are different ages. We’re in different locations, we’re different ethnicities and we also put a term limit on ourselves of two years because we want to make sure that we’re having diversity of thought with this committee. It’s also important to have diversity in the leadership.

What were some challenges you had in developing the diversity committee?

Eing: We realized without a strategic tie-in to a business purpose, we would quickly lose steam. So we said, what’s a tool that we could use to help us really hone and focus our mission? Similar to what we do with financial planning clients—you start with figuring out what’s important to them and then you create the financial plan—we took a similar approach. We read a book called Measure What Matters by John Doerr. This book talks about a framework called OKRs—objectives and key results. So, the whys we identified really gave us a vision but not direct objectives. An objective, for example, would be: we want to build the tallest building in the world. The key results would be: how do we do it? We have to find out what the tallest building in the world is. We have to find out how many floors it has, etc. We were able to take this framework to create concrete steps.

We’re large in the RIA space, but we’re not a huge company. We don’t have a dedicated chief diversity officer—we have people that have hobby jobs. Daria and I both serve on several committees, so we knew data was going to be important. And I mentioned our size—we found size being a challenge in that it was hard to fit demographic data to fit a particular office.

For example, I work out and in the San Fernando Valley in a smaller office; there’s four, maybe five of us out there. Well, it’s hard to match us to mirror the community we serve. The community is 60 percent Asian. I’m one of four people in the office, and I am the only Asian and it’s hard to go from 25 percent to 60 percent when there’s only four of you. But what we found was we were able to better mirror that if we took the whole firm together and we said, what does Abacus look like as a team, as a firm in total? How do we compare to the U.S. Census data? Because Philly looks very different than Santa Monica, which looks very different than San Mateo. But as a firm, we’re able to focus on the areas of opportunity for us and how we can get better.

What kind of programming did the diversity and inclusion committee offer?

Victorov: When we started the diversity and inclusion committee, we didn’t ask for money from our company. We really had to get creative about how we were going to connect with people and make sure that people were learning. John came up with a model where we have to entertain people, we have to educate people and we have to empower them. And everyone’s got to eat. So we just started with the idea of lunch and learns. We were having lunch and learns already for different topics at Abacus, and we wanted to pivot—instead of learning about estate planning or tax planning, maybe we’re learning about a different culture. Because of budget constraints, we looked to our own diverse colleagues. We all come from a different background and we all have different experiences and we ask people at our own company to start speaking. In September we asked George who’s our controller, so not in an adviser role, to speak on his experience in Brazil and a little bit about the differences between Hispanic and Latino heritage.

Your diversity committee used to be called something else. What was that?

Eing: So our tagline was “awakening our cultural consciousness.” The George example is so perfect because I’m Asian; I had no idea there is a real distinction between Hispanic and Latino. And something we learned was the three-factor model—entertain, educate and empower. We came up with that model because we said, look, we’re giving up an hour of our day; let’s make it fun—which is the entertaining part. Teach us about their culture and with George, it was really interesting because he grew up in Brazil and came here as an adult. He also shared with us what it’s like to be an immigrant in America and still be Brazilian and how Brazilian Americans adjust to that culture shift.

Then empower—it was like, okay, great. Now that we know about Brazilians and Brazilian Americans, what do we do with that information? That’s where these great diversity trainings get lost. How many times have you left the conference or training like, wow, that was awesome, and you’re all pumped up and you go back and you’re like, what do I do with it?

George gave us some specific takeaways about working with Brazilian people—very simple things. For instance, in Brazil, the concept of time is very different than how we look at it in America. In Brazil, people are late and they just expect it. But even though they show up late, they want you to be generous with your time. If you think about that from a cultural perspective, can you imagine someone who grew up in America, if you’re 15 minutes late for a meeting, they’re going to be incredibly perturbed. Yet this Brazilian person shows up [late] and they’re happy as can be.

Why is diversity of leadership on the committee so important?

Victorov: We’re a large RIA, we get together every two years as a company. John and I had an opportunity to speak in front of the company about what we’re doing for diversity and inclusion.

Right after our presentation someone came up to me—they were one of the few minorities we have in our company—and said, “I really enjoyed your presentation.” That was really refreshing to hear, because during the presentation they didn’t ask questions or say anything. I was at a conference later this year and someone asked what do we think about how the future of our profession is going to change? And I said, the face of our profession is going to be changing. We’re all going to be looking a lot different. Later in the evening, a couple of the minorities had come to me, they were like, “Thank you for saying that.”

I challenged them. “Why didn’t you say anything after I said that?” Because after I said it, there were crickets in the room. It was really heartbreaking, to be honest. I think the profession can look different and no one had anything to say. Someone changed the conversation to something else. That’s why I challenged them. I was like, why didn’t you carry on a conversation? Why didn’t you say anything? They didn’t really have an answer. I brought this story back to John because I thought, what is going on?

This is not something where we’re creating a committee and then all of the sudden our demographics of our new hires is going to change. It takes a lot of work. It’s something that’s going to take years.

Even though I’m co-lead of this committee, I feel really awkward sometimes. Talking about it feels very uncomfortable and you just have to power through and know that it’s important and that the awkwardness is worth it. 

Rianka Dorsainvil

Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP® professional, is the founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution (YGC), a virtual, fee-only comprehensive financial planning firm dedicated to serving entrepreneurs, first-generation wealth builders and thriving professionals in their late 20s, 30s and 40s. She also hosts 2050 TrailBlazers, a podcast aimed to address the lack of diversity in the financial planning profession by engaging industry experts and leaders in conversation.

1 Comment

Best of the Blog 2019: Part II

We hope you got everything on your wish list this holiday season and that your credit card is starting to cool down from all that shopping.

We got what we wanted this year—lots of great content from our writers. Here is a continuation of the top 10 most-read posts of 2019.

In case you forgot what the first five were, see this post. Here’s the rest:

6.) Three Ways the SECURE Act Will Impact Clients with Stretch IRAs

This article by Matt Sommer of Janus Henderson Investors dove into how the SECURE Act would affect clients with Stretch IRAs. Key takeaways regarding the Stretch IRA provision include a new 10-year period for non-spouse beneficiaries, existing stretch IRAs are grandfathered, and there are exceptions to the new rules. Stay tuned to the Journal of Financial Planning’s February issue for a deeper dive into what the SECURE Act means for you and your clients.

7.) “Buying” College in the 21st Century: Clients Should Search for Colleges They Can Afford

You wouldn’t pick out your dream car and then ask how much it costs, right? Robert J. Falcon, CFP®, CPA/PFS, of College Funding Solutions, LLC, said you shouldn’t do that for college either. This information can help you help your clients figure out how to “buy” a college and pick something that will give students a good return on their investment.

8.) How to Write Like Someone Might Actually Read Your Work

FPA’s membership and marketing director, Dan Martin, lays out the writing tips that have helped him in his career, including writing like you speak, reading your work out loud and not sterilizing your work when you edit.

9.) 3 Steps to Mastering the Art of Excellence for Financial Planners

Daniel C. Finley of Advisor Solutions explores how to create excellence by continuously learning and honing your skills until excellence becomes a habit. He suggests committing to a new level of greatness, model after those who have mastered their craft and map out your milestones so you can see your progress.

10.) What You Should Know Before Leaving Your Firm

Freelance writer Sarah Li Cain penned this piece for FPA’s Next Generation Planner, an app-only publication for the next generation of financial planners, regarding the correct protocol for leaving a firm so you don’t burn bridges or do anything that could get you into legal trouble.

That’s all, folks. One more Tuesday in 2019, which means one more post, then we look forward to seeing what our writers have in store for 2020!

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn