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Be A Gen Savvy Planner: Take Off Your Generational Lenses

Our early environments shape us for the rest of our lives.

That’s why there is so much difference between the generations, said Cam Marston, an expert on generational change and founder of Generational Insights.

Marston told FPA Retreat attendees in April that baby boomers are tough and were never told they were unique or special, so they overcompensated by telling their kids—who are Gen-Xers and millennials—that they were extra special. Therefore, those two generations were raised to think they were unique and that their needs were very important.

“What imprints on younger people impacts them for the rest of their lives,” Marston said. “Millennials and Gen-X have been brought up to say, ‘What’s going to make me happy?’

Planners should understand the vast differences between the generations and know how to talk to and communicate with each one.

Boomers. To connect with the boomer, Marston said, you need to understand how they see the world. They’re hardworking and they have the mentality that retirement is going to be great. They want to hear your story and know where you come from.

Hanging up your diplomas or certificates in your office during your meetings with boomers is a good idea.

Key points about boomers:

1.) Understand and acknowledge their work ethic—which they generally measure in hours (i.e., “I work 50-60 hours a week”).

2.) Ask them about their accomplishments and acknowledge what they’ve done.

3.) Communicate that you are on the same page. Emphasize that you are a team.

5.) Pick up the phone and call them and meet with them in person.

6.) Beware of too much technology.

7.) Know the difference between “leading” baby boomers (older than 62 and like communication that emphasizes how they deserve retirement); and “trailing” baby boomers (ages 53-61 and need to be reassured that they’re going to be OK despite setbacks they experienced in retirement savings thanks to the recession).

Gen-Xers. This generation are stalkers of product and services. They demand to be an educated consumer and are leery of “being had,” Marston said. They are interested in how well you can teach them to make a good decision. Your relationship should be a partnership.

Key points about Gen-Xers:

1.) They are going to do research and have you prove why your advice is better than what they found via this research.

2.) They tend to prefer email and your communication should be brief, succinct and to the point.

3.) Don’t waste your time leaving them voicemails.

4.) Make sure your web presence is pristine—they’ll look you up online before contacting you.

5.) The Gen-X mother has tremendous buying power and influence. She’s coming up in terms of her earning, she’s informed and she’s fully engaged. Keep her happy.

6.) Communicate how decisions will affect them personally.

Millennials. Millennials are individuals with a group orientation. They believe they’re unique but they also enjoy being part of a group.

Millennials think, “You tell me about me and what’s going to happen and how I’m going to feel about it,” Marston said.

Key points about millennials:

1.) They’re optimistic.

2.) You will get more attendance from them if you ask them to bring people. Engage them as a group and they will be more interested.

3.) They feel they are unique and special.

4.) They don’t think so much in the long-term as the other generations.

5.) They are achieving milestones (i.e., getting married, buying houses, having kids) later in life than the previous generations.

6.) Communicate via text messages and social media.

Understand these key points about each generation and try to see the world through their eyes when you’re talking to them.

“Everybody pitches and articulates their value from their own generational lense,” Marston said, “but I’ve got to take my lenses off and put on somebody else’s.”

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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


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The Power of Wow

After her particularly stellar basketball season, John Evans, Jr., Ed.D., took his 10-year-old daughter for a trip to the Sarasota, Fla. Ritz Carlton.

On the elevator ride up to their room, he praised her rebounding, her boxing out, her shooting. They settled in, left the hotel, and came back to their room to find a tiny chocolate cake with a message on top reading, “Congratulations on the great season, Susana.”

The bellman had heard the entire conversation and seized the opportunity to give these two guests what Evans refers to as a “wow moment.” He defines this as a unique, emotionally engaging experience that goes beyond expectations and is readily recounted.

Evans, executive director of Janus Henderson Labs of Janus Henderson Investors (formerly Janus Capital Group), told FPA Retreat attendees in April 2017, that generating wow moments for a great client experience, like the one he had at the Ritz Carlton, starts with energy levels, is followed by clarifying your purpose, and ends with expanding your team’s capacity to deliver authentic wow moments (read more about “wow moments” straight from Evans in the June 20 FPA Practice Management Blog post titled, “The Circle of WOW”).

“We have an energy crisis here, ladies and gentleman,” Evans said. “But here is the thing: we can create more energy.”

Evans noted that there are four areas on the energy pyramid: the physical (the fundamental source of fuel, sleep); emotional (the capacity to manage emotions); mental (capacity to organize and focus attention); and spiritual (the purpose beyond self-interest). Of those, we are most stressed in the mental and emotional.

But, Evans noted, stress isn’t always bad.

“Stress is the giver of life,” Evans said. “A life of pillows and marshmallows is no way to live.”

Evans notes that a way to generate more energy in all areas of the pyramid is to embrace stress and abolish multitasking, which he said is “one of the greatest enemies of extraordinary and the pathway to mediocrity.”

It’s counterfeit engagement, he said, and we all need to become more engaged. Focus on one thing at a time, establish healthy habits such as eating right and exercising, and see if your energy levels improve.

Next, advisers must clarify their purpose. Why do you do what you do? What is your purpose? Your cause? Your belief? Actively communicate that from the inside out.

Finally, appoint a “wow czar” or “chief clientologist” whose job it is to help generate these experiences. This person should have tremendous emotional intelligence and be creative.

“We have to be intentional about wow,” Evans said.

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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


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The Circle of WOW

On a recent flight home, after giving a keynote speech on driving deep client loyalty in the financial services industry, the woman sitting next to me asked about my business. It turns out that she was a public relations executive for the dental industry.

Intrigued, I asked, “What is the most effective slogan you have ever authored in your world of teeth?” She responded, “Simple. This one: you don’t have to floss every tooth, just the ones you want to keep.”

Instructive! So it is for clients in the financial services industry: you do not have to connect emotionally, or make meaning with every client, just the ones you want to keep.

Let’s be candid: nobody can control market events, but investment advisory teams can control how they connect emotionally with clients, colleagues and others. Regulatory changes and challenging investment environments should remind us that making stronger connections is more important than ever. And a key way of doing that is what we at Janus Henderson Labs affectionately refer to as The Art of WOW—focusing on actions that build impactful connections with those we care about at work and beyond.

Launching a meaningful wow journey requires planning. We like to start with “The Circle of WOW,” a four-step business development approach designed to fire up your business development efforts and start a perpetual upward spiral of results:

Step 1: Evaluate. Find your super-niche that helps you grow on purpose, not by accident. No matter what your profession—cultivating a “happiness advantage” is a natural outcome of discovering your unique business tranche (UBT) and developing your business around it.

Step 2: Activate. Identify and WOW your “Client Marketing Officers” and never ask for a referral again. Learn to consistently deliver WOW experiences to key members of your UBT, and leverage their guidance on how to grow your business with the help of other extraordinary members of the group.

Step 3: Replicate. Curate ideal clients and quit prospecting as you know it. With the help of your Client Marketing Officers, identify best new prospective clients and connect with them based on the fundamentals of WOW. Design each prospect’s experience based on a customized assertion schedule.

Step 4: Perpetuate. Create a magnetic ecosystem. Stop promoting and start attracting (and connecting). Deliberately cultivate personal rituals and design your environment to continually attract and nurture your UBT. Maintain a strong presence as an expert and dominate your space with unmistakable joy and command.

While WOWing our clients is certainly an art, we follow an actionable playbook on how unexpected, thoughtful behavior can elevate you from a professional resource to a provider of truly personalized service.

To learn more contact Janus Henderson about The Art of WOW. Our program, designed to drive extreme client loyalty, was developed in partnership with Dr. Joseph Michelli, internationally recognized client experience expert and author of The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and The Starbucks Experience.

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John L. Evans Jr., E.D., is the executive director of Janus Henderson Labs of Janus Henderson Investors, formerly Janus Capital Group. He is a practice management expert who conducts extensive consulting and training with top financial intermediaries and businesss leaders worldwide.

 


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Use the ‘Mere Exposure Effect’ to Attract More Clients

We tend to like people we’re most familiar with.

According to this Social Psych Online article, the phenomenon of liking something or someone after we become more familiar with them is called the mere exposure effect.

Basically, the more you see or hear something, the you more you like it. A 1992 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology demonstrated just how far mere exposure can go. Scientific American noted also that people tend to like people they share things in common with.

Researchers had four different women with similar appearances attend a college class numerous times throughout the semester. One woman didn’t go to any classes, another attended five times, another attended 10 times and the last one attended 15 times. The women simply sat in on the lecture, not interacting with any students.

At the end of the semester, students were asked to evaluate the women on several scales, one of which was physical attractiveness. They rated the woman who’d been to the class 15 times more positively than the other three, Social Psych Online reported.

How Can Advisers use Mere Exposure to Their Advantage?

So just by being around others more often, you have a greater chance that they will view you more favorably. This underlies many of the tenets of networking; the more you put yourself out there, the more others will view you more favorably over time.

But, you don’t have to physically be present for mere exposure to work. Advertisers like McDonalds discovered this long ago, and have been using it to their advantage for decades, as noted in this Science Blogs post.

By sharing information about yourself online, being active on social media and participating in online discussions, others will come to feel as if they know you and will be more likely to feel that they like you.

Twenty over Ten notes that you can nurture this even more if you go one step further and share a bit of personal information about yourself. Write blog posts or articles that include personal anecdotes and stories, which open the door to building rapport and allowing prospective clients to find things about you that they might share in common.

10 Blog Post Ideas to Write and Share to Speed Up the Mere Exposure Process

Every blog post you write is a chance for readers to learn more about you. We know that consumers make choices based not just on services, but based on who they ultimately think they’d enjoy working with.

1.) “Meet the Team”

A “meet the team” post is essentially a blog post that revolves around a Q&A session with you or one of your colleagues. Sharing a glimpse into that team member’s life allows your readers to get a better understanding of the individual and who they are as a person. For example, some questions the team could answer are:

  • What gets you up and going every morning?
  • Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been on vacation, and why?
  • What books are on your nightstand?
  • What inspired you to become a financial adviser?

2.) “5 of My All-Time Favorite Books”

Any favorite books? Articles? TV Show Commentaries? The information we are drawn to and consume says a lot about us. Listing these out in a blog post allows readers to get a sense of who you are, and gives you a great talking point. Sharing this post on social media and asking others to share their top five favorite books also fosters discussion—and you may even reach a new audience of prospective clients.

3.) “Financial News I Read Every Day (That Is Worth Your Time Too)”

Similar to example No. 2, you can share the financial news you read to keep up with daily events. Although it is more geared toward finance, this is still a great way of connecting with your audience because it shares a glimpse into your interests and fosters a sense of care. You are staying up-to-date and educated on behalf of your clients—and this blog post would show that.

4.) “A Peek at Our Own Family Budget”

In this type of post, you can share a glimpse into how you and your family budget and save, and the trade-offs you make personally. For instance, you may want to specifically gear toward a scenario like: “Simple Do’s and Don’ts to Saving for a House” if you are building a client base of millennials. You can discuss the uphills, the downhills, the peaks and the trials to budgeting. We are all instinctively drawn to seeing how others live and these types of post naturally pique our interest.

5.) “Conversation with a Current Client”

For this type of blog post, talk to the client in advance to get permission and ensure them they will remain anonymous. Essentially, this blog post should let prospective clients know the type of situations you and your firm deal with when it comes to handling clients and their financial situation. For instance, you might have a series of “Conversations with a Client”—one client in their 30s, one in their 40s, etc.—that revolve around the biggest questions clients have in those age groups. Or your approach could be “Conversation with a Client Business Owner,” etc.

6.) “My Family Vacation”

Have you taken a recent vacation? Talk about how you handled the budget for vacationing, along with friendly travel tips. For instance, you may have some great recommendations for the resort you stayed at, or the beaches you visited. As we all look forward to our vacations and usually spend a good deal of time investigating which locations/resorts/experiences will be the best value and most interesting, your readers will appreciate your own tips.

7.) “Budgeting for Big Life Events”

With weddings, holidays and many of life’s big events, money is always an important factor. In this blog post, you might share how to effectively save and budget for such events. Because the post will be in real-time (especially with holidays) your chances of getting more reads are definitely higher. For example, a post titled “Budget Friendly Tips for Holiday Spending” around November is sure to get many reads!

8.) “The Top 5 Tools I Use to Run My Business (That are Worth Every Penny)”

In this post, you might share the tools you use to run your business. Are there any tech tools that you couldn’t live without on a daily basis? Perhaps there is a scheduler app to schedule appointments? Or you might use Google Drive to share documents? By sharing your top tools, your readers can get a glimpse into your daily practice and immediately feel more connected with tools they may even potentially use themselves.

9.) “How I Save Money Every Day in the Simplest Ways”

Do you cut back on your daily Starbucks coffee and make your own at home? Do you pack your lunch instead of ordering out? Share a glimpse into your daily spending habits, and how your small trade-offs result in large savings. This type of post provides inspiration to your reader, where he or she may even begin to pick up your own smart saving habits. And since you often ask your own clients to track and take note of their own spending, this is a great “practice what you preach” post.

10.) “How I De-stress from the Financial Markets”

Being in the financial industry is isn’t always easy. With fluctuating markets and worrisome clients, it can even be extremely stressful. What daily rituals do you practice to stay at peace? How do you de-stress? Similarly to No. 9, this type of post can also provide plenty of inspiration to your readers, who may also have high-stress jobs.

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Samantha Russell is the director of sales and marketing at Twenty Over Ten, a web development company that creates tailored, mobile-responsive websites for financial advisers. She’s spent the last five years empowering advisers to market themselves effectively online using digital tools. With a background in marketing, social media and public relations, Russell focuses on helping business owners understand the value of their online presence and connecting them with the marketing tools and digital solutions they need to effectively manage their brand and engage clients.


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Explain What You Do So People Will Immediately Want to Work With You

When you meet a prospective client, are you able to introduce yourself so that they immediately want to work with you? If you know how to speak their language, you’ll be able to clearly communicate what you do so that they can understand.

When I say “language,” I’m not talking about their native tongue—I mean the language of results.

If you can craft an introduction that’s focused on the results that your prospects are looking for, you’ll be able to get people interested in what you do.

When I first started as an adviser, I’d usually just tell people that I’m a financial planner. I quickly found out that it wasn’t the best way to introduce myself if I wanted to get people interested in what I do. The reason why this didn’t work was because so many people hear the term financial planner and their guard immediately goes up.

As I figured this out I’d then try to explain in more detail and ended up just getting confused looks. But once I learned how to speak the language of results, I was able to become more compelling and get more people interested in how I help people.

When you’re able to do this you’ll be able to introduce yourself in a way that’s compelling and People will begin to become very interested in what you have to offer. Remember these two things:

1.) Be Specific. Don’t worry about excluding people. If you have multiple “types” of people that you help, you have the advantage of tailoring your answer to the person you’re talking to. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

2.) Focus on Results. When you meet someone for the first time, they don’t really care about your services, your process or your credentials. If you want to hook people and get them interested in you, you have to focus on how you help people. What are the problems you solve for people?

Ways to Introduce Yourself

There are two great ways to explain what you do. Both are non-salesy and will clearly communicate how you help people.

Way No. 1. This is where you give a two-sentence answer that communicates the problem, the solution and the reward.

Communicate the problem first. You don’t want to start the conversation with what you do. You want to start it by focusing on them and the thing they are thinking most about. What problem does your ideal prospect have? What pain is causing them to seek out an adviser?

Then communicate the solution. Ask yourself, “What do you do that solves that problem?” and “How do you make the pain go away?”

Finally, communicate the reward. Ask yourself, “What’s their life like after your solution?” and “What are the good feelings they’ll experience after working with you?”

Here are some examples of things to say:

“Most people don’t feel 100 percent confident about their financial future. We give them a road map so they know exactly where they’re going and so they can make the right decisions along the way.”

“As a lot of people get close to retirement they’re not sure if they’re making the right decisions. We take them through a three-step process to help them get clear on their financial future.”

Way No. 2. This is a one-sentence introduction that takes fewer than 10 seconds and will communicate three things: what you do, who you help and how you help them.

Here’s the script: “I’m a financial planner and I help (specific person) (with a problem) by (solution). Here are a few more specific examples:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people who are five years out from retirement create a plan they can feel good about.”

“I’m a financial planner and I help retirees who want to leave a legacy create a plan to efficiently pass on not only their assets and their wisdom to future generations.”

“I’m a financial planner and I help busy professionals who want to make good financial decisions by giving them a one-page financial plan.”

What’s Next?

Write down your own version of how you would introduce yourself to the next prospective client you meet.

To learn more about how to explain what you do so people will immediately want to work with you, sign up for this online mini-course.

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Dave Zoller, CFP®, is a financial planner who teaches other financial planners how to grow their practice so that they can help more clients. He runs Streamline My Practice, a consulting company for advisers.


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5 Steps to Manage Critical Mass

It never ceases to amaze me when I get a call out of the blue from a former client who is concerned with how their business is doing. Typically, they have had a downturn in their production for various reasons such as lack of prospecting or motivation or even as a result of being complacent. However, today was an interesting turn of events when I receive a call from a previous client, Seth, who was excited to inform me that his business had reached what he termed “critical mass” and he didn’t know what to do about it.

Apparently, his consistent prospecting had paid off and he was now bringing in more assets, new accounts and doing more production than he had ever done before. I congratulated him on all of his accomplishments and that is when the conversation turned to the real reason for his call. He simply said, “I need your help. I have no idea how to manage this level of success.”

I’m sure we can all agree that this type of scenario is a good one to have, but regardless it was now proving to be a challenge. Since we had worked together, he trusted me and knew we would brainstorm a solution.

Following is a brief overview of some of the suggestions I would offer to you if your business grows beyond your expectations.

Step 1: Know What You Like and Don’t Like to Do. Some advisers and agents like to prospect while others like to manage their client base. The first step is to get crystal clear in understanding what you like and don’t like to do. Simply make a list of all the weekly activities you need to accomplish regularly and put a plus or a minus after each. It won’t take long before you realize what activities you look forward to doing and what activities you dread—if you didn’t know already.

Step 2: Do What You Love and Delegate the Rest. In Seth’s case, he loves to prospect and that is a big reason why his business had taken off. He also loves to manage his client base. However, about six months ago his assistant had decided to be a stay-at-home mom so she resigned. To save money, he chose to be his own assistant. Unfortunately, there is no one to delegate things to that he doesn’t like to do, such as the administrative activities and day-to-day operational tasks. The solution for him was to find someone who loves to do these types of activities. So, he needed to hire, train and delegate everything not involving prospecting and managing the client base to somebody else.

Step 3: Create a Scalable Business Model and Stick to It. In order to consistently manage steady growth, it’s important to have a scalable business model. Seth had realized that years ago when he transitioned his clients to fee-based accounts and continued prospecting as well as systematically servicing his clients. Within a few short years, he had doubled his assets and revenue. His fee-based model allows him the time to continue growing and managing his book of clients. And it shows.

Step 4: Create a Team. At some point, it’s important to admit that in order to continue growing and servicing your client base effectively it takes more than one or even two people. Eventually, Seth will have to look at adding some additional people to his team. One example would be to add a paraplanner to help put financial plans together. Since he is a people person and loves to connect, it might be a good fit to have someone who loves to do manage the behind the scenes work. This would free up some of his time to continue prospecting and meeting with his client base.

Step 5: Expand Your Value. Another option is to expand your value by introducing additional services to your client base. An example of this is for Seth to add an insurance agent to the team who would cross-sell to the client base offering quotes on property/casualty, life, health and even long-term care insurance. Doing this would not only help his clients but it would also help him retain his client base.

Why Strategic Growth is Important
Generating critical mass doesn’t happen to everyone. However, if you consistently prospect it can happen to you. The reason why having a strategy to consistently grow your business is important is because it will help you reduce the growing pains that come along with success. When you know what the next step is, then you are not afraid to take it.

Have you mapped out your success? If not, why not? Discuss this with me in a complimentary 30-minute coaching session. Schedule one 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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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.

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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.

 

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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.