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How to Minimize Your Marketing Budget and Still Get Results

Want to know my favorite thing about inbound marketing? Anyone can do it, and you often get the best results from organic efforts.

Organic refers to campaigns and strategies that naturally attract your ideal prospects and clients to you—rather than paying to get in front of them. Organic marketing is free marketing with no barrier to entry.

So before you throw money at AdWords, before you rush out to hire a professional to do all your marketing for you, take a step back and consider that the only thing you actually have to invest is time.

How to Market Your Firm for Free

There are countless marketing strategies that don’t require a dime to implement. If you’re short on budget—or just want to stop massive marketing spends—try free or inexpensive tactics like:

  • Blogging and creating content (and publishing on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium or Tumblr);
  • Engaging on social media;
  • Creating a podcast or a video series;
  • Responding to reporter’s requests for stories or media queries;
  • Pitching influencers and media members with relevant, timely stories that contain something their audience would really want;
  • Developing your own event series where people can come and learn something for free (this could be a workshop, a webinar, a class, or just a networking event for a specific tribe of people);
  • Joining online communities and participating in discussions; and
  • Becoming part of in-person networking groups, business development initiatives in your area, and professional organizations or associations.

Minimize Your Budget Without Killing Your Time

Of course, the fact that all of the above takes a lot of time is the downside. That’s where organic, inbound marketing gets tricky.

It takes a lot of time to see results and as a firm owner or decision-maker in a financial planning practice, time is one resource you probably don’t have an abundance of. Still, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money or keep a massively inflated marketing budget to get results.

If you want to minimize your marketing budget but it’s not realistic to do everything yourself, here’s what to consider instead.

Know Your “Who” and “Why”

Always start with who you want to reach before you try and figure out what tactics you’ll use in your marketing. Where does your target audience live—online and off? How do they like consuming content? Understand your audience and what they want.

Then, be clear about what you want from your marketing. What’s the purpose or the goal? What does success look like for your firm? Marketing goals could include:

  • Brand awareness;
  • Greater visibility and name-recognition;
  • More referrals through word-of-mouth channels; and
  • Establishing thought-leadership or generating new business opportunities.

Your goals will also help inform your tactics. If you only want more exposure in the media and don’t care about creating your own blog, direct your attention to outreach strategies and PR campaigns.

If you want to be known as the go-to firm for a certain niche or as a thought leader on a particular topic, on the other hand, you’ll likely want to create a blog, podcast or video series establishing your expertise.

Build a Simple Strategy

Once you know what you’d like to do, map out a simple marketing strategy. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Goals: What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Metrics: How will you know if you succeeded? What does “successful marketing” look like for your firm?
  • Audience: Who is this marketing for? What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • Channels: What mediums or methods will you use to reach your audience?
  • Call to action: What will you ask your audience to do once you reach them?

Identify What You Love (and What You Hate)

With your simple marketing strategy in hand, it’s time to implement. Look at what you love doing, or what only you could do. Keep these tasks on your plate as long as they’re enjoyable.

Then, list out all the steps you absolutely hate doing—or just aren’t any good at. You should also list action items that you don’t know how to do (and would waste time on if you tried to figure out how to DIY).

Now, it’s time to divvy up those tasks. First, look around at your existing team and connections. Are there people in your firm who could take on some of these tasks (and want to)? Let others volunteer to help, especially if they have a passion for something like creating content, making connections and forging relationships with media, or managing systems and processes.

Outsource Wisely (and Cheaply)

Look at what’s left on your list of tasks that someone else needs to complete in order to implement your marketing strategy and plan. Sort these into two categories:

  • Time-intensive: These are relatively simple or basic tasks that most people could do—even if they don’t know how (by teaching themselves or getting a quick lesson in what to do).
  • Skill-intensive: These are tasks or projects that you need a trained expert to help you with. Not just anyone could complete these to-dos; a specific skill set is required.

Most tasks are time-intensive. Here’s where you can outsource cheaply to minimize your marketing budget:

  • Hire a virtual assistant: A virtual assistant and can help with most administrative tasks and very basic marketing functions, like scheduling social media posts, researching speaking opportunities. Good VAs range from $15 to $30 per hour.
  • Hire an editor: Can you jot down rough drafts for articles or marketing materials? If so, you might not need to spend hundreds on a freelance writer. You could simply hire an editor for about $50 per hour to wordsmith your drafts into polished pieces of content.
  • Hire an intern: You may feel wary about bringing a college student into your team, but younger talent can be immensely valuable when it comes to marketing. For best results, map out the marketing projects you want help with first and be as specific as possible. Don’t expect your intern to work for free, either. Show that they and their work are valued in your firm by paying them a reasonably hourly wage and help structure their workload by agreeing to a set amount of hours each week.

As for those remaining skill-intensive tasks? Consider working with an expert on an as-needed basis. There’s no need to keep a professional or an agency on a 24/7 retainer if you’re trying to minimize your marketing budget. A periodic consulting call or help with a few projects throughout the year may be all you need to market successfully.

KaliHawlk
Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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Walking the Client Demographic Tightrope

There are moments throughout my day as a financial adviser when I feel like a tightrope walker performing a delicate balancing act.

On one side, I have my baby boomer clientele who expect a high level of personalized service, one-on-one meetings, retirement planning advice and general counsel whenever it comes time to make an investment decision.

I’m comfortable working with these clients, who I’ve primarily served throughout my 28 years in financial planning. This demographic has also had a lifetime to build up investable assets and possesses a willingness and ability to compensate their adviser.

On the other side, I know I have to start catering my services to a younger clientele if I want to be in business 20 years from now. However, this demographic comes with an entirely different set of demands and expectations. For the most part, they’re less interested in face-to-face meetings, they are just starting out in their careers and possess minimal investable funds and they are quick to do their own research and make their own decisions. This is where the balancing act comes into play.

Advisers today are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They’re comfortable serving their baby boomer clients, who also happen to be much more profitable than their younger counterparts. Yet over the next several decades, this generation is going to transfer more than $30 trillion in assets to their children, and our industry must begin to pivot our services in favor of a younger clientele if we wish to survive. However, while we know this demographic is the future, they do not exactly represent a profitable business opportunity today.

So what can we do? For starters, it’s important to remember that your career as a financial planner is a marathon, not a sprint. No one is advocating for you to completely revamp your business and cater exclusively to millennials. But here are a few steps every adviser should consider as they begin to reposition their practice for the great wealth transfer.

  1. Hire younger advisers with the wherewithal to understand and utilize the electronic forms of communication favored by Gen X and millennial investors today. These younger advisers not only bring a fresh perspective to your approach to financial planning, but will be able to counsel more senior advisers on new communication tools enabled by technology.
  2. Consider charging younger clients in a different fashion by utilizing consulting or hourly fees and establishing small account offerings with lower fee arrangements. Millennials specifically are not accustomed to paying a 1 percent management fee like your older clients, nor do they possess the level of investable assets to make this fee meaningful for the adviser. Get creative in your compensation structure, and find a way that serves both parties’ best interests.
  3. Partner with a broker/dealer that offer investments products with low minimums. These broker/dealer partners can also counsel your team on how to best put these products into the hands of your younger clients.

At the end of the day, the long-term financial needs of Gen X-ers and millennials are very similar to those of their parents, and in many ways the actual planning process will largely remain the same. However, reaching and interacting with this demographic will require a much different approach. Hang on to that balancing pole and continue to walk the tightrope. It will pay off in the end.

Beth Richardson
Beth A Richardson, CFP®, is a financial adviser at Maleta Wealth Management, a Kestra Financial-affiliated firm. She specializes in wealth management, concentrating in retirement and estate planning for senior corporate executives and high net worth individuals. 


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5 Steps to Run Your Business with Positive Intention

Years ago, when I was a rookie, I was running out to an appointment with a client I was hoping to close, when a colleague wished me good luck. My immediate response was, “Thanks, but he’ll probably have to think about it.” My peer replied, “You’re right—if you go into the meeting with that intention.”

On the ride to the appointment I thought about what my co-worker had said and realized that I needed to run my business by going into each phone call and every appointment with a vision of a successful outcome rather than with my existing, less enthusiastic mindset. I quickly changed my focus—which had been negative—and instead worked on how to handle any possible objections that might arise during the appointment.

The result was one of the smoothest presentations (and closes) I’d ever experienced. Afterward, I made the connection: the reason my meeting went so well wasn’t because my change in focus was attracting success but because I went into the appointment expecting success.

The following are the steps I’ve used in many situations, in business and life, to increase my probability of success. Apply these steps and watch how your business and life can transform for the better.

Step 1: Believe in the outcome you want. When I look back at the aforementioned story, I realize now (20 years later) that although I knew I wanted to close that prospect, I didn’t believe that I would. Knowing what outcome you want and believing in your ability to achieve that outcome can be two entirely different thought processes. That’s why it’s so important to address any doubts you have by asking yourself, “What is the evidence that this is true?” And, in my case the follow-up question was simply, “Have I ever closed a prospect before? If I’ve done it once I can do it a thousand times more.” By questioning a negative belief system you are in fact decreasing its validity and increasing your own belief in yourself.

 Step 2: Know where you are now. On the ride to that particular appointment I had a revelation that I needed to run my business with intention. Up to that point I’d actually run my business by winging it. Believe me, I’ve coached hundreds of financial advisers and insurance agents since 2004 and one thing I learned early on is that winging it doesn’t work. That is why you need to get crystal clear on where you are now and where you desire to be. In other words, what have you been doing that has been preventing you from reaching your full potential?

For me, it was taking the time to prepare recommendations while neglecting to prepare for the presentation and any objections.

Step 3: Decide what to do and do it. That appointment was a turning point in my career because I realized that people don’t want to be corrected, they want to be connected. In other words, people don’t like to be told they have been doing something wrong with their investment strategy but they do what to know that you care about them and that you have their best interest at heart. In order to show them that, you need to ask questions to help prospects see that they have a challenge (if they do) and to realize that you have the solution.

So, I decided that I would focus on having a process for my presentations, ask better questions and lead them down a path to understand what value I could offer them.

Step 4: Prepare for possible pushbacks. In business, as well as life, we’re all faced with the possibility of pushbacks, those unforeseen obstacles that prevent us from reaching our desired results. In the case of presenting the prospect with recommendations, it’s highly likely that they will have objections. That’s why I decided to study a process (and actually develop a system) to handle any type of objection. When you prepare for possible pushback, you increase your likelihood of success because you are ready for the inevitable obstacles.

Step 5: Evaluate the process. A simple barometer for understanding how well your process is working is to observe the results you’re seeing (or not seeing). If you’re obtaining your desired results, than keep doing what you are doing, but if not it’s time to go back to the beginning and start over at step one.

Why Positive Intentions Work

The more often you go into any situation with an intentional, positive attitude and a plan, the more likely that it will become a habit. If you begin each interaction knowing what you want to happen, believe in the outcome and prepare your dialogue for inevitable objections and you will no doubt increase your probability for success. The reason why running your business with positive intentions works is because it’s the antithesis of “winging it” or leaving your business up to chance. Instead, expect success by preparing to succeed.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.


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The Value of a Life Purpose Statement for You and Your Clients

If you’ve never had the chance to meet Richard Leider or to hear him speak, I highly recommend it. I’ve been lucky enough to count Richard as a mentor and friend for the past few years, and I’ve already benefited quite a bit from his wisdom, perspective and outlook on life.

The first time I heard Richard present in an official capacity was at the Think2Perform Adapt to Thrive Conference in Minneapolis in 2016, where he spoke to a group of financial planners on the power of purpose. While a percentage of the population (including advisers) are—often with good reason—wary of life planning or purpose-driven messages, that was not the case with Richard’s presentation; you could have heard a pin drop in the room when he finished speaking. I think the main reason for the resounding impact of the message is that it’s so simple and logical that its authenticity is impossible to ignore.

There are many facets to living a purpose-driven life, but one tangible place to get started is the process of drafting a life purpose statement. In a post on his own blog, Richard defined a Life Purpose Statement as “simply your ‘life message’—the message you wish to drive in the world during your short existence on Earth.”

As mentioned, while the concept is simple in theory, it can be considerably more difficult in execution. To help you set some parameters, Richard says purpose statements should only one sentence and must be tied to making a difference in the world. He cautions that, “making a difference” should not be confused with having to champion a certain or specific cause—the point is, instead, to pursue an aim larger than ourselves.

In this post, I offer three reasons why putting together a life purpose statement is worth the investment of time for financial planners.

1.) Even a Default Purpose Statement Can Provide Direction

At risk of belaboring the point, you may find that sitting down and hammering out a life purpose statement is more vexing than it seems at first look. Remember that, if creating the statement is giving you the same level of stress as building an IKEA bookshelf (some people enjoy this—I am not one of them), it’s having the opposite of its desired effect. It’s important to put work into the statement to make sure it resonates, but not at the expense of increasing your stress level. I love Richard’s remedy for those grappling with their mantra, which is to start with a default life purpose statement: “If you feel stuck, use this ‘default purpose’ in the meantime. It’s comprehensive and universal! ‘To grow and to give. Our growth determines our capacity to give. As we grow, our impact becomes more powerful.”

Beginning the process with a more generic statement, like “to grow and to give,” or one of the other sample statements Richard offers in his blog post, allows you to use the initial sentence as a personal pilot program. As you test out how the statement fits in your daily life, you can fine-tune the message over time, crafting a more customized statement along the way. One way to test the slogan might be to share the statement with your clients—they may be able to share interesting perspectives and ideas while also forming a stronger bond with you through your openness in sharing something so personal.

2.) A Life Purpose Statement Can Help You Focus on Your Priorities

For so many of us, including the lion’s share of financial planners I have had the pleasure of meeting over the years, one of the greatest challenges we face is that we have so many things we want and need to do on a daily basis, and so little time in which to do them. Yet, prioritization is easier said than done.

As a marketer, I’ve found that it’s often much easier to create a lengthy eBook or detailed white paper than it is to distill a one-sentence mission statement. There are just so many different facets that make up an organization, that it can be frustratingly troublesome to consolidate the “why” down to a single phrase.

Writing a life purpose statement introduces a similar obstacle—of all the important things, what stays in and what ends up on the cutting room floor? If you aren’t convinced, jot down a quick list of the priorities, financially, physically and emotionally, that are important to you now (defined in the context of your own situation). I think you’ll be surprised by how quickly and completely you can fill the page.

It’s wonderful to know what you want and I imagine there’s a lot of good stuff on that page. That said, it’s equally important to know why you want it—you might think of it as the “goal of your goals.” One of the primary benefits of a life purpose statement is in helping us define why these priorities are truly most important, and in doing so, driving our choices under a singular purpose. As Richard puts it, a life purpose statement not only helps us clarify why we get up in the morning, but also “provides an organizing framework for your day-to-day priorities and choices.”

Above all, I hope you take the exercise of writing a life purpose statement seriously, as you want your statement to matter. A life purpose statement is a truly personal exercise, there is no “right way” to do it.

3.) The “Napkin Test” Can Be a Good Exercise for You and Your Clients

As we move through the process of coming to our life purpose statement, Richard encourages us to continually write our statements quickly on a napkin (inspired by Delta Airlines’ former campaign that encouraged travelers, via a notation on their cocktail napkin, to spill both drinks and thoughts), especially as we think of adjustments over time or face a difficult decision that requires a reminder of our purpose.

The test is valuable not only to ensure that your purpose statement is tangible and actionable (not just evangelical), but also because living a life of purpose is simple in theory, but can be enormously difficult to sustain in practice.

Regardless of whether one is tasked with breaking a bad habit, attempting to get more exercise or even more ethereal pursuits such as finding happiness or purpose, it is a generally accepted theory that consistent reminders can make an incremental difference in our progress. One specific example is a study on how daily text message reminders could assist smokers in quitting the habit. The study tested the effectiveness of text messages specifically urging smokers to quit compared to generic motivational text messages, testing the result of smoking abstinence at eight weeks, three months and six months. At the eight-week (end of treatment) assessment, 23.3 percent of those receiving tailored text messages were not smoking, compared to only 10 percent of those receiving generic motivational texts.

I like this example for a few different reasons. First, the study understates the value of continuing to tinker with a life purpose statement until it’s as individually resonant as possible. Second, I think that a life purpose statement is only truly useful if we commit to owning it day in and day out. This means displaying it prominently, and finding ways to remind ourselves of our “why” on a daily basis. One of the beautiful things about these statements is that they are often fairly brief, which makes them perfect for a spot on the refrigerator, a Post-It on our computer screen at the office or a simple Outlook reminder set to pop up as we go through our morning routine.

This is another area in which I think a discussion on life purpose statements could be useful as part of your relationship with your clients. The convergence between an investors’ most important financial goals and their overarching life purpose is often acute, and as a planner, the life purpose statement offers a useful, non-traditional way to help clients look beyond number-focused objectives and remember why they are saving, investing and planning in the first place. To Richard’s point, whether the vehicle is an actual napkin or a proverbial one, it’s about implementing these simple reminder in a way that works for you (or your clients, if you choose to use the concept in your discussions).

Whether for you, your clients or both, like many of Richard’s concepts, the idea of a life purpose statement encourages introspection. Looking deep within ourselves may sound a bit too touchy-feely, but being honest with ourselves about where we stand when it comes to our most important priorities can take immense courage.

Writing a life purpose statement about the internal journey. I have mine posted on my wall and do find myself referring back to the statement often—I’ll share it with you in case you’re interested in another example: “To learn every day, grow through experience and live in the service of others.”

Like the life purpose statement, learning from Richard and reading his work on “purpose” serves as an important reminder that living a passionate existence, finding a mission we can believe in and sticking with our calling through life’s highs and lows are their own reward. Make it a great day!

Dan_Martin_Headshot
Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at@DanW_Martin.


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Taking the Emergency Brake Off

Fear has an ugly way of stopping many advisers in their tracks. Fear of failure, fear of success (yes, even that) and fear of the unknown can leave you driving with the emergency brake on, slowing your pace and forcing you to work harder.

For advisers and agents who let fear affect how they manage their tasks, they shouldn’t focus so much on eliminating fear altogether but more on illuminating fear. Advisers and agents should try to understand how some of their beliefs or fears hold them and their advisory business from reaching a greater level. If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, you are not the first to experience this sometimes paralyzing crossroad. However, this post can teach you how to take that emergency brake off and put motivation and momentum back into your daily activities.

5 Steps to Overcoming Fear

The following are steps are for overcoming fear—both in your personal and professional lives. Apply each step when you are faced with a situation where you experience fear and/or anxiety and watch how quickly you can conquer it.

Step 1: Gain Emotional Awareness. Rick T. is a veteran financial adviser client of mine with 20 years of experience. He called late on a Friday afternoon concerned about a situation in which he’d emailed one client another client’s information by accident. The two clients have the same first name, so it was a simple mistake of typing the first name in the “to” box of his outgoing email. I asked him how he felt about what happened in order to give him a chance to identify and articulate his emotional awareness.

Step 2: Realize and Release. He was fearful and anxious because his compliance department was the one who notified him of the error. Unfortunately, it had occurred several other times this year so he was even more concerned about what this could mean for him. His mind was racing towards the worst-case scenario.

Putting into words how you feel and why is a great beginning. You need to let yourself recognize the fear and/or anxiety so you can work through it. It will release itself over time and you will feel better, but it’s important to sensibly talk through the situation with someone you trust until you find a stronger sense of calm.

Step 3: Get the Facts. It didn’t take Rick long to start thinking and getting worked up again about the situation. It’s common to keep experiencing the original emotion as most people’s mind tends to wander, ruminate and head back toward doubt, so I helped him refocus his thoughts by explaining the facts.

I’ve been in the financial services industry for 24 years—both as a financial adviser and a coach—and I’ve never, ever heard of anyone getting fired for sending out emails to the wrong client.

Step 4: Form a Plan and Take Action. Rick quickly asked me what he should do and we formed a plan and mapped out what he should say to his compliance department. When we hung up, he acted and made the call. By preparing for that call, we in fact refocused his energy toward something that he could control—which was trying to rectify the situation.

Step 5: Repeat the Process. It didn’t take long before Rick called me back, informing me that his compliance department was helpful and reminded him to slow down and double check when sending out any correspondence. I recommended to him that he repeat the process we used with this specific event for any situation that arose in the future that served up fear and anxiety for him.

Why Taking the Emergency Brake off Works

When Rick realized that he didn’t have to run from the fear, but instead embrace and face it, he felt empowered with hope (and equipped with a coping mechanism for bringing him to a calmer state). We all become reactive to some extent in these types of situations. That’s why taking the emergency brake off works, it takes you out of focusing on the immediate fear and allows you to focus on the process to hopefully remedy the outcome and move in the right direction.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 


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Life After the Storm

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and came for parts of Louisiana in late August. More than 51 inches of rain inundated Houston, according the National Weather Service. USA Today reports that more than 30,000 people have piled in to Houston shelters.

Now that the storm waters are starting to recede, the full scope of the damage is starting to come into focus. According to AccuWeather, the total damage is expected to reach $190 billion, almost four times the amount of damage caused by 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. Insured losses, according to CNBC, are expected to reach $20 billion.

There is a long road to recovery ahead. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin to assess and address the damage to your businesses and to your clients:

Take care of you first. With 475 members in the FPA of Houston chapter, no doubt you are suffering yourselves. Carolyn McClanahan wrote in Financial Planning that you must help yourselves before you help others. But when you do have some semblance of starting to recover and you’re ready to reach out to your clients.

Let your family, friends, and clients know you’re OK. You can Tweet, post on your firm’s Facebook or Twitter page.

Jonathan Swanburg, CFP®, an adviser affected by Harvey, wrote in Financial Planning how when he reached out to his clients, they only wanted to ensure that he was safe.

“When I sent out an email on Friday morning praying for our client’s families and explaining our firm’s contingency plans for flooding and loss of power, none responded on the business issues at hand,” Swanburg wrote. “Instead, they all expressed concern for my team and our families.”

Make sure they’re OK. Call them when you get a chance. Many of them might not answer but try until they do. Ensure they are physically and mentally alright before tackling the concrete financial issues. The emotional toll of this catastrophe will be just as high as the financial toll.

Many might need extensive repairs not covered by their insurance. According to the Washington Post, majority of the homeowners in areas hit hardest by Harvey don’t have flood insurance. Citing data form the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Washington Post reports that only 17 percent of homeowners in the Texas counties hardest hit have flood insurance.

“Unfortunately, most families in Houston do not have flood insurance and are going to be struggling for a very long time,” Swanburg wrote.

If your clients are among those without flood insurance, look into federal disaster relief aid (go to DisasterAssistance.gov), U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans, or home equity loans. Be advised that homes must first be repaired before a home equity line is approved.

Help with the insurance processes. CNBC reports that insured losses from this storm could reach up to $20 billion. And it will likely be some time before adjusters can get in and assess the damage. Advise clients to make only repairs that prevent further damage until adjusters can come. Have them take pictures of everything. Save all receipts for materials, housing, meals, and storage. Encourage them to file claims as quickly as possible. Keeping receipts will also help with claiming a casualty loss on their tax returns.

Utilize your contacts to expedite getting your clients the help they need. McClanahan said that insurance agents are overwhelmed during disasters. Adjusters work on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you have connections in the insurance industry, utilize them to better serve your clients.

“While Harvey was a catastrophe for millions of people,” Swanburg wrote, “it was also a reminder that at its best, financial planning is a uniquely personal business built around wonderful people and lifelong relationships.”

If you are an FPA member set to renew this month and were affected by Harvey, FPA will extend your membership while you’re recovering. If members affected by Harvey have registered for FPA Annual Conference, refunds will be issued if you are unable to make it. Contact Member Services for more information, 1-800-322-4237 or email MemberServices@OneFPA.org.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


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4 Steps to Generate Conviction and Build a Connection

In a recent group coaching session, Angela, a new financial adviser, shared a story of meeting with a client and knowing that the client needed renter’s insurance. Although the client saw no value in getting this type of coverage, Angela was adamant about helping him understand the risks he was taking, which far outweighed the costs. Instead of just telling him what she thought, she simply asked him enough questions to get him to come to his own conclusion that it was indeed something of value.

This level of conviction is an admirable pattern that I often see in veteran financial advisers and insurance agents but I rarely see in rookies. The reason is veterans simply have had more client experiences and thus know the value of (and rationale for) their recommendations. In other words, they generate conviction to build a connection.

The following is a brief overview of the steps that you could use to increase your own level of conviction for your products and services.

Step 1: Know Why Clients and Prospects Need Your Products and Services

Angela took a firm stance because she knew without a doubt that her client needed renter’s insurance. She had had other clients who didn’t have it and sadly paid the price when they experienced the loss of their possessions. It is vital to be able to articulate the tangible benefits or the “why” of your recommendations. If you cannot clearly connect the dots for your prospects and clients, they don’t know what they don’t know and could make some significant choices that could have significant consequences.

Step 2: Know the Right Questions to Ask

 When Angela shared her interaction with the group, I noticed she had included one very important detail, that she had asked her client questions rather than just telling him what she would do. The reason this is so important is because people hate to be sold to but they love to buy. To accomplish the aforementioned step, all you have to do is map out key questions to help lead the prospect or client down a path to understanding why they should buy.

Here are some examples of some of the questions that Angela had for her client:

  1. “How much do you think all of your valuables, furniture and many miscellaneous items in the house you rent are worth?”
  2. “Do you have that much money to replace them in case of a fire or flood?”
  3. “Do you know how much renter’s insurance is per month?”
  4. “Do you think spending $6 dollars a month is worth the cost of covering your items should you ever experience their unexpected loss?”

Angela didn’t make much on this policy but that wasn’t a concern, she had the best interest of her client in mind.

Step 3: Know How to Ask for the Order

 If you re-read the last question she asked, it was a closed-ended question that essentially asked for the order. Of course it was worth it for her client to pay $6 a month to cover all the items in his home. That’s a no-brainer! But, what if the cost had been much higher, say tens of thousands of dollars?

If this is the case, you craft as many questions as you need to help them understand the benefits. Next, you ask the questions and let the prospect or client end up making a decision they feel they made without you making it for them. Then, you summarize what they currently have versus the benefits of what you are recommending. Finally, you sum things up with this question, “Are you comfortable with moving forwarding doing [suggested action] based on the benefits of what we just discussed?” If you have led them to a place of clarity and provided plenty of information emphasizing the advantages, it should be a relatively easy to wrap the conversation.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Process

After you are finished with your appointment, it’s important to take time to evaluate your process. You need to know if your conviction was properly communicated to build a connection with them. If not, simply go back to the beginning and work on each of the steps discussed and fine tune them based on what you heard and noted during your discussion.

Why Conviction Builds a Connection

When I congratulated Angela on sticking to her guns, asking questions and letting her client come to his own conclusions, she already had felt good about what she did but the group and myself validating her efforts solidified that.

The reason generating conviction in your recommendations builds a connection with prospects and clients is because you are coming from a place of sincerity, it’s not about getting the sale but putting the client/individual’s needs first.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
 Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.