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It’s Not Just About Salary: Purposeful Staffing

I routinely get calls or questions from advisers about compensation for a staff position or junior adviser. Whether it involves hiring/retaining a junior person, or a staff member trying to make a case to their firm about how underpaid they are, the conversation is less about salaries (although it does come up) and more about incentive or variable compensation and bonus. Instead of providing a number or formula, I’ve been asking what would it take that person to leave your firm and why are you doing things? If you know what kind of firm you’re running, and what your goals are, you can be purposeful with compensation.

What Behavior Do You Want?

Over the years, I have lived by a simple rule when it comes to compensation: compensation, especially with variable comp, should be used to drive better behavior. More importantly, advisers shouldn’t have to stick with the same variable comp structure every year as priorities and goals may change. I ask the adviser to think about the goals of their firm, more importantly the leading indicators of success and tie the metrics around those indicators.

As I said, the conversations are changing lately—they are becoming broader. Today, we start with a conversation about work environment. We answer and discuss:

  • Is there a clear vision and purpose for the firm (Do you know where you are headed)?
  • Does the employee have/want the opportunity to grow and is the path laid out for them?
  • Is there a sense that the employee is fulfilled?
  • Is the employee valued?
  • Is compensation really the issue you are trying to solve for?

In my mind, staff more often leaves a business for reasons other than compensation. The biggest reason is always around the vison of the firm and where they fit.

Purposeful Staff

In our most recent paper, “The Purposeful Advisory Firm,” my co-author Raef Lee and I discussed the concept of value engineering for advisory firms. The idea was that an advisory firm has a few levers they can pull that can determine the firm’s direction. Moving a lever in the right direction can propel the firm toward successful enterprise or to a lifestyle firm. I think the people (staff) lever is the most important.

How you use talent can be the key to your success, so it is critically important to understand, communicate and plan for the direction of your firm before you discuss variable compensation with the staff. How can you decide on a number if you don’t know what you are paying for or the direction that the compensation will take your firm?

Lifestyle Versus Enterprise: Questions for You

Before you get into the dollars and cents of a compensation plan, I think it is important to ask questions that can help move that value lever:

  1. Do you aspire to take your firm to the next level? (In addition, can you define what that next level looks like?)
  2. Do you have the appetite for adding (and managing) more employees?
  3. Do you have it in you to fire yourself as adviser and hire yourself as CEO?

If you answer yes to all three of these questions, you are heading down that enterprise path. You will be busy with defining roles, job descriptions and creating a path for all your team members to grow within your firm. Yes means looking at a team approach to the client service model and possibly a chief operating officer hire. The enterprise variable compensation will look at the big picture of the firm and how you are building it for the future.

If you answer no, then the lifestyle approach may be calling you. And figuring out that variable compensation is going to be even more important. You should create a plan that reinforces longevity, continuity and service. The lifestyle firm cannot afford huge turnover that will force the adviser back in the day-to-day operations of the practice. Morale and culture are very important to retain existing clients and strengthen the brand of the no-doubt personality driven firm.

Consequences

Not having a purposeful compensation plan in place leads to employee retention issues. A purposeful plan leads to maximizing the hire for the future direction of your firm. I am often accused of sounding like an attorney (or an economist). When someone asks me about compensation, instead of a direct answer, I now say, “It depends on you.” What kind of firm do you want to be?

Editor’s Note: Join SEI and FPA for a webinar titled, “The Renaissance in Charitable Trust Planning,” at 2 p.m., Eastern, April 18. Register for the webinar here. Also, a version of this blog post first appeared on SEI’s practice management blog, Practically Speaking.

John Anderson

John Anderson is the managing director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network. He is responsible for all programs focused on helping financial advisers grow their businesses, create efficiencies in their operations and differentiate their practices. He is also the author of SEI’s practice management blog, Practically Speaking.

 


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4 Steps to Use Public Speaking to Attract More Clients

Financial planners are always looking for a way to find new clients. However, many people fail to find effective marketing methods to do that.

This situation does have a solution. As a public speaking and marketing consultant, I find that most financial planners can become more successful by using public speaking in their marketing plan.

Here, I’ll outline the many speaking opportunities that you can use to attract more business. There are thousands of groups in need of a guest speaker at their meetings and conferences. A few examples include: business groups, charity groups, associations, corporations, conferences, conventions, organizations, schools and colleges, professional groups, churches, special interest groups and many other types of groups and organizations.

Now, let’s take a look at an example of a possible small marketing plan that uses public speaking. Imagine if a financial planner started by giving a 30-minute speech each week to different groups with an average attendance of 50 people per group. In a period of 50 weeks, you would have spoken to 2,500 people. Also, you would have the chance to answer their questions and shake hands with them. Just imagine how many potential new clients and customers you might attain from giving 50 speeches each year about your products or services.

Also, you might acquire many referrals as you start speaking to a variety of groups and organizations. Furthermore, this is just a starting point. Many ambitious financial planners with large financial goals can start giving 50 to 200 speeches each year and they can start speaking to much larger groups.

So, you might be wondering, why isn’t everyone using public speaking to get more business? Well, there are two main obstacles that keep people from using public speaking. First, public speaking is a very common fear for most people. The second obstacle is that most of us were never told that public speaking is a great marketing tool for attracting new customers. So, as a result, we never bothered to learn how to use public speaking to gain more clients.

But, there is good news. We can learn to conquer these two obstacles.

When I coach many kinds of business people in my seminars and teleseminars, I use what I call the “Four-Step Plan.” All four steps are very important if you want your public speaking to be successful.

Step No. 1: Know Your Reason or Goal for Becoming A Public Speaker. Think about the specific goal that you want to achieve by giving speeches. For example, you might want to get 100 new clients or earn an extra $100,000 in the next year. Now, each person may have their own goal, but make sure that you have a specific goal to aim for. Having a specific goal will motivate you to put in the effort required for making your public speaking successful.

Step No. 2: You Must Have a Slow and Safe Way To Practice Public Speaking. Since public speaking is a very common fear, you’re going to need a slow and safe way to build our confidence as speakers. This can be accomplished in small supportive groups or seminars, where people can practice giving speeches at their own pace.

Step No. 3: Be Willing to Use Public Speaking All The Time. Here, you have to decide if you’re willing to use public speaking on a regular basis. For example, if you give one or two speeches each week, you’ll discover that you have given between 50 to 100 speeches in a 50-week period. It’s this kind of commitment that will make public speaking an effective marketing tool for getting new clients and customers.

Step No. 4: The Business Side of Public Speaking. This involves learning how to make public speaking profitable by: getting paid to speak, giving free lectures in order to get new clients and referrals, getting speaking engagements at local community groups, business groups, associations, corporations, conferences, conventions, organizations, schools and colleges, professional groups, churches and many other types of groups and organizations. You will also start developing a strong “pitch” that will get groups interested in having you speak on your financial topics.

Overall, it’s important to know that public speaking can make you a well-known financial planner. It is also a great way to put you in front of many potential new clients. Finally, you will also have the chance to speak at a variety of groups and organizations that have the ability to make many referrals to you.

Edward Martin

Dr. Edward Martin is a public speaking and marketing consultant. He offers seminars and teleseminars on, “How To Attract New Customers And Clients By Using Public Speaking.” For more information, call Dr. Martin at 818-314-2054 or email him.

 


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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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Your Service, Your Story, Your Value

A financial planning practice must be able to articulate and demonstrate a planner’s value, story, service menu and deliverables—these remain the most fundamental elements of your business. After all, if you can’t convey and verbalize what you do, how will you attract people to your business and grow? And, if you don’t consistently deliver your value, how will you retain clients and sustain success? As we enter the fall, it is a good time to go back to the basics.

How well can you—and every team member regardless of role—answer the following fundamental questions?

Positioning: Who are You?

  1. What is your identity as a business? How does your community perceive who you are and what you do?
  2. Do you go beyond your title and firm name when someone asks you what you do for a living?
  3. Do you have a differentiating and intriguing story? Does each team member articulate a cohesive message?

Purpose: Why Do You Do What You Do?

  1. Why are you in this business?
  2. What is your vision? What is the team’s vision?
  3. Where are you leading the team? Where are you leading your clients?

Proposition: What Do You Offer and to Whom?

  1. Can you delineate the solutionsservices and deliverables that you offer to each client segment?
  2. What problems do you solve and for whom?
  3. What is your reactive service strategy? What is included in your proactive service matrix?
  4. How do you define and delineate the ultimate client experience?

Price: How Much Do You Charge for Your Deliverables?

  1. Do you consistently execute on your pricing model or are there more exceptions than standards?
  2. How transparent are you with pricing? Do your clients understand what they are paying and what they are receiving for that fee?

Process: How Do You Do What You Do?

  1. What is your defined process for working with prospects and clients and do you consistently execute it?
  2. Do your prospects have clear expectations on what they will experience when working with your team?
  3. How efficient and systemized is your business?

Differential: What Makes You Different?

  1. Can each team member answer the question, “Why should I do business with you?”

We recommend that you schedule quarterly off-site team sessions to focus on the strategic side of your financial planning practice. You should reflect and identify successes and challenges, and then look ahead and plan for the future. The questions listed above are a starting point. Consider the strength of your value today and what changes may need to take place as you head into the future.

Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights, where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions.

 

 


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Seize the Summer with These 3 Growth Activities

Summertime can be a wonderful time to relax and recharge your batteries after a tough spring. But it can also be a great time to grow. Many advisers and their staff have excess capacity at this time of year, as clients are off on vacation. So, before you leave work early, stop and think about what a productive summer could mean for your business. You could be in high-growth mode come September instead of looking at a long list of tasks you need to complete before year-end. Here are three ways to help you get there.

Here are three growth activities you can do this summer:

1.) Connect with clients. Summer offers many opportunities to strengthen relationships with your best clients. Be sure to actively listen when clients talk about their vacation plans. If they are traveling to a particular destination, follow up with an article or item geared toward their trip. For example, clients going to a cooking school in France might love a whisk, along with a note saying you hope they whip up some wonderful summer memories. Clients heading to a national park might be thrilled to read a timely article on the “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Yellowstone.” These types of gestures could get clients talking about you, leading to introductions to potential new clients.

There’s another benefit to active listening: the ability to source names to follow up on at another time. Who is on the client’s tennis doubles team or golf foursome? Who will be at the lake house? Who’s coming to town for the family reunion? Be sure to add these names to your CRM system or database to keep your pipeline of prospects full and healthy.

2) Get to know clients’ families and friends. Are children, grandchildren or other relatives coming to town? Mention that you’d be delighted to meet them. Perhaps clients are hosting a barbecue you could attend. Or maybe there’s a Little League game in your area where you could watch their son or granddaughter pitch. Imagine their surprise and delight to find you in the bleachers, cheering on their young ones. And if you bring along a small cooler with popsicles or ice cream treats for after the game, you can quickly get introduced to a large number of players (and their parents) and make a great first impression. It’s a great way to turn clients into advocates for you.

3) Leverage community events. Many cities and towns hold free summer events that you can spin into your own unique entertainment offering. Invite clients to attend an outdoor movie in your community, and bring along blankets, popcorn, movie treats and soda to hand out. Or suggest clients come enjoy a band concert in the town square with you, and offer them wine and cheese while they relax to the music. (You’re likely to have clients introduce you to others, too, in a casual setting like this.)

Remember to take pictures (get permission, of course), and leverage the event even further by sharing those images on your website, blog or social media channels. The opportunity to delight your clients and meet potential new ones is all around you this time of year.

Make this summer fun—but make it matter to your business. When you prioritize connecting with clients, and getting to know their friends and families, you’ll create a pipeline full of prospects that can propel your business forward. And you’ll be well positioned to capture business leading into the end of the year.

Kristine_McManus_2_lg
Kristine McManus, is the chief business development officer of Commonwealth Financial Network.


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How to Get the Right Prospect to Your Event

It happens all the time. An adviser plans a high-end client appreciation dinner or wine event and spends weeks planning every aspect. The dinner menu, the flowers, the drinks, the guests to invite, the seating arrangements—everything is carefully thought through.

And since the adviser is a generous host, clients are invited to bring a guest. The adviser is casual about it but hopes clients will bring along a great prospect, perhaps an executive-level peer. And then the big night comes and the clients show up promptly, ready to have fun—with their 14-year-old daughter in tow.

That’s frustrating. Disappointing. And a missed opportunity! As the host of the event, it’s your job to make sure people know what to expect and whom they should bring to your gathering. It’s great that you want to meet new people, and your existing clients are wonderful sources of prospects for you. But rather than leave it up to clients to bring a friend, it’s far more effective if you can suggest an appropriate guest.

Listen for Name Drops

When you meet with clients, of course you listen closely as they talk about the people, places and activities that are important to them. But you should also be sure to ask questions, when appropriate, to learn more about their golf foursome, book club or brother who moved to town. Keep track of the names that come up in these conversations so that you have a ready pool of good candidates for your business and events. It’s easy from there to say something like the following:

“You mentioned recently that your tennis partner is a lot of fun. I’d be delighted to have her and her husband as my guests at the dinner as well.”

Hopefully, you’ll get to meet the prospect who would be a good fit for your firm (which you know because you’ve Googled her, just to make sure.) But even if that doesn’t happen, your clients will understand the type of person you’re looking to meet by the names you’ve brought up.

Look for Leads

In addition to your own research, you can leverage LinkedIn to find out whom your clients know. Simply visit their profile and click on “See Connections.” This list will quickly and easily give you some ideas of people to suggest your clients bring, and you’ll be able to learn some important details about these people—perhaps their involvement on a hospital board or a past job or charity work.

Hint, Hint

If all else fails, and you still want your clients to bring a prospect, try something simple, like this:

“I’d like this wine tasting to be as much fun as possible for you. As you know, we won’t be talking any business—this is purely for pleasure. Is there a friend, or a couple that you know, who also shares your passion for red wine? If you’d like to bring them along, I’m happy to welcome them. And you know you’ll have a great time.”

This should keep the 14-year-old daughter at home and hopefully open up the invite to a promising prospect. With these tips in mind, you’ll have more enjoyable events while growing your business at the same time.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web
Joni Youngwirth, managing principal, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, helps advisers develop the mindset and systems to grow their businesses to the next level.

 

Kristine_McManus_2_lg
Kristine McManus, chief business development officer, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, works with advisers to grow their top line through the introduction of various programs, tools and coaching.


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4 Questions to Attract More Clients

There are just four questions that every financial adviser must answer if they want to attract more clients. If you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to more effectively communicate your message to prospects so that they will want to work with you.

No. 1: Who’s Your Ideal Client?

When advisers think about their business and how they help people, they tend to think the most about the services they provide. Things like the types of planning they offer, the investments and products they use for clients, the process they walk clients through, etc., but we rarely focus on defining who we serve.

The financial advisers that will survive and thrive over the long term will define their business not by the service they offer but by the people they serve.

They know exactly who their ideal client is.

No. 2: What Value Do You Provide?

You undoubtedly provide a lot of great advice to your clients. But what do your clients value the most? What’s most important to them?

Do they care about investment selection, the products, the process, your credentials, your years of experience or your past performance? I’m sure they do.

But there’s actually only one thing that your clients value above all else: their transformation.

They are seeking the positive change they experience by working with you. They want the end result. How do I know this? It’s because people buy the destination, not the plane ride.

What is the destination your clients are trying to get to? What’s the ideal end result you can help them achieve? This is the real value you give to clients and prospects.

No. 3: How Do You Clearly Communicate Your Value?

If you’re the greatest financial adviser in the world but you don’t know how to clearly communicate your value to ideal prospects, then you won’t be in business very long. If you cannot clearly communicate your value to people, nothing else you’re doing in your business really matters.

Many good advisers have failed because they didn’t know how to clearly communicate their value.

The best advisers are able to engage in a conversation with a complete stranger and within two minutes, that stranger fully understands how that adviser helps people. Even better, that stranger will have enough curiosity and excitement that they want to hear more from the adviser.

If you’re able to naturally start the conversation with people, you’ll have no trouble getting people in the door. And If you can communicate your value, you’ll have no problem getting people to become your clients.

No. 4: How Will You Consistently Attract and Acquire New Clients?

This is the most important question that advisers need to answer. It’s also the one most advisers have a hard time answering.

How do you find new clients? Most advisers rely on referrals to get new business. Some others still do seminars, lunches, cold calling and networking events. Those techniques are good but there are more and more advisers turning to newer ways of attracting prospects to them. Techniques such Linkedin referrals, Facebook ads, blogging and webinars are quickly growing in favor with advisers. This is because they are less expensive and more profitable than the “old school” ways of getting new clients. But there’s also a steep learning curve to these. You shouldn’t let that stop you from testing them out. When you find the technique that works for you, stick with it and focus all your energy there.

Take five minutes and try to answer these four questions. And be honest with yourself. If you’re having trouble with one of the questions, start exploring new ways to try and answer it. If you need ideas, download the accompanying guide to help you out.

dave-zoller

 

Dave Zoller, CFP®
Financial Adviser
Streamline My Practice
Warrenville, IL