1 Comment

Managing the Business Development Process: A Key to the True Ensemble

According to a recent report by Cerulli Associates, financial advisers today are more likely to join an established RIA than to create their own advisory firm. Another study by InvestmentNews came to the same conclusion. Are these results surprising? Perhaps for some, but the talk regarding the emergence of ensemble firms has been around for more than a decade. Whether due to aging founder advisers who want their firms to continue after they’re gone, or to advisers who want to grow the top line, there is indeed a hiring frenzy by existing firms.

What happens after the frenzy has been satisfied and additional advisers are in place is another story. Unfortunately, “buyer’s remorse” can sometimes set in: Firm leaders who have failed to anticipate and prepare for the changes resulting from having additional advisers in the firm cannot achieve the intended results. So, what can be done to prevent this scenario?

As the leader of your organization, you should, of course, carefully craft the vision and business plan—and then drive that plan into reality. But one key to forming a true ensemble is the need to manage the business development process—sometimes referred to as the sales process.

Manage the Process
As advisers join your firm, they will need leadership and management to help them grow. You may find that it doesn’t cut it to go back to “business as usual” and focus your time as a financial adviser on only serving your clients. Be it loosely or with formality—and whether or not you call it “sales”—the business development process within a firm needs to be managed. To do this, consider the following:

  • Have individual advisers set revenue goals. This will yield the forecast on which future expenditures of the firm can be based. At least some of these expenditures should be for marketing efforts designed to gain new clients.
  • Track all activities. It is all too easy to service existing clients endlessly and never get around to prospecting. Keeping track of advisers’ revenue-generating activity will help provide some needed structure and balance to client-servicing activities.
  • Coordinate marketing events. This will ensure that firm-sponsored events and expenditures are embraced by all advisers within a firm.
  • Recognize success. Advisers need to be recognized for their achievements, as well as coached in areas where improvement is needed.
  • Evaluate techniques. By evaluating the effectiveness of different revenue-generating approaches, future time and energy can go into those prospecting activities with the highest return on investment. This is often referred to as tracking and assessing the effectiveness of endeavors of the sales funnel.

A Word to the Wise
If you love being a financial adviser and working directly with your clients but hate managing others and/or focusing on others’ growth, you might want to “stick to your knitting” and remain in a solo practice. And if you think that growing your business is as simple as finding another adviser to join your firm, think again. All work is a process—including business development.

Remember, you might establish a multi-adviser firm by hiring more advisers. But a key to forming a true ensemble includes actively managing your business development process.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

1 Comment

Beyond Boredom: 3 Steps for Refocusing Your Career

BlogPic414_Page_1I am seldom surprised at the types of challenges that advisers say they are experiencing because I have coached them for over 10 years, but in a recent Solutions Session, I heard a challenge that I must admit was unique.

Lori K, a veteran financial adviser with over 20 years in the business said, “My number one challenge is…well..that I’m bored,” she said emphatically.

I probed a bit.

“What exactly do you mean–bored with the work itself or the industry overall?”

She shared with me that she literally could retire because she was at “retirement age” but that she didn’t want to retire yet she was finding that she didn’t have the motivation she needed to grow her business any longer. Frankly she just wasn’t inspired to do any more than she absolutely had to.

I paused briefly before replying, “Lori, what you need is to get beyond your boredom.”

Knowing that I now had her attention, I took her through a series of questions summarized by the following:

Step No. 1: Find Your Motivation
“Why are you in this business?” I asked, seeking for why she was sticking with her career choice despite not wanting to retire.

“I wouldn’t know what to do with my time,” she responded. Often times the first response to this question isn’t the “real” answer.

“Let’s come up with your top five reasons for staying in this business,” I told her. This is what she came up with:

1. I don’t know what I would do with my time if I wasn’t an adviser
2. I like to stay current with the market
3. I like to make money
4. My clients have become friends and I don’t want to leave them by retiring
5. I like finding out what they need most and helping them solve their biggest financial fears

Step No. 2: Find Your Passion
Once I knew what motivated her I needed to know which one of those motivations was the most important so we could identify her passion. When I asked her of those top five motivations which one she believed to be the most important, she said, “I like finding out what my clients need most and then help them solve their biggest financial fears. That is the most fun and rewarding for me!”

She went on to give an example of a high net worth client that had sold his business for $30 million. Thinking that he had no cares in the world, she was surprised to learn that his biggest fear was when he died passing that money along to his son and having his son spend it irresponsibly. Lori replied that she was passionate about solving his challenge with/for him and becoming involved in helping him develop a strategy for managing his estate as well as educating his son about responsible money management.

Step No. 3: Find Your Mission
“If this is your greatest passion, then why don’t you make it your mission to help out all of your clients by finding out what their No. 1 fear is when it comes to their money and help them with the solutions?” I excitedly asked.

“That’s it! That’s what I am going to do,” she exclaimed. “I’m going to help them before I retire. Just thinking about this makes me want to get started right away. Thank you.”

Although each adviser has their own motivation, passion and mission for their business, all advisers must know what they are. Once you know what yours are start working towards fostering and encouraging them. Sometimes just rethinking why you decided on this career path and what you find most exciting or worthwhile about it can spark your enthusiasm and help push boredom aside.

If you read this article and are interested in hearing Lori’s story in the one-hour audio Solutions Session titled Turing Obstacles into Opportunities, email Melissa Denham at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com or schedule a free complimentary consultation to discuss how to get beyond boredom with your practice; email me at dan@advsorsolutionsinc.com.

I can help you put the passion back into your practice!

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

Editor’s Note: Once you determine what your motivation, passion and mission are, learn how to better foster your relationships with the clients that remain with you with an FPA webinar titled, “Engagement Standards: Mastering Ideal Client Relationships,” by Business Coach Tracy Beckes.

Leave a comment

With Great Managers, Comes Great Business

World's Best BossWhen employees aren’t engaged it leads to decreased productivity, performance, and growth. And chances are some of the planners who work for you aren’t engaged.

But with great managers comes great employee engagement.

Findings from Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace,” report show that great managers engage employees, leading to increase in recruiting talented employees that are engaged and driving increased profitability and productivity.

Gallup surveyed 7,712 U.S. adult employees to find what qualities they found in managers that kept them engaged at work.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their jobs at any given year, a statistic that has remained consistent for the past 15 years since Gallup first reported on U.S. workplace engagement.

According to Gallup, engaged employees are those who are involved and enthusiastic about their job and their place of work. Employees who weren’t engaged, on the other hand, “sleepwalk” through their days, Harvard Business Review reports.

Plus, when employees are not engaged or don’t know what their goals are, they tend to think they’re doing great while you’re not pleased.

“Firm owners don’t hold regularly scheduled reviews to look at performance because they are ‘too busy,’ so a lot of times the new planner can get off track and they’re thinking they’re doing really well and the firm is thinking, ‘Why is this person doing things this way,’” said Caleb Brown, CFP, in an April 2015 10 Questions article in the Journal of Financial Planning. “So basically, you’ve got people going in opposite directions.”

Establishing goals and performance metrics is one of the ways Gallup found engages employees and when employees feel engaged, they feel more comfortable, more motivated, and more likely to work hard and stay with your firm for the long haul.

What you can do to become a better leader:

  1. Communicate: Consistent communication is key. Gallup findings show that employees don’t care if it’s face-to-face, on the phone, or via email, the more they hear from you, the better engaged they are. Daily communication is better, the study finds.
  2. Establish Clear Goals: When employees know what their goals are, and know that their performance will be measured by those goals, that gives them a clear vision of their duties and thus a clear mission to tackle.
  3. Focus on Employee’s Strengths: When you’re constantly told what you’re doing wrong, it’s disheartening, right? Your employees will respond better if you focus on what they do right versus what they do wrong. Harvard Business Review reports that when managers help employees develop their strength, they are more than twice as likely to engage their team members.

To read more on how to recruit the right talent and keep them on the right track so they’re not disengaged, read our interview with Caleb Brown here, or listen to our PODCAST. Also, a FPA Webinar by Angela Herbers explores how to manage employees and increase productivity.

Ana2Ana Trujillo
Editorial Assistant
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.