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Creating and Delivering the Ultimate Team Experience

Client and employee retention are both vital to business longevity and are completely tied together. To retain clients, we must consistently deliver the ultimate client experience; but to achieve that end, planning firms must first be delivering the ultimate team experience. Employers who demonstrate a remarkable team experience tend to retain more engaged, loyal and productive associates who deliver phenomenal service to clients. Let’s review the key ingredients of the Team Experience.

1) Communication. Every financial planning practice should have a formalized team communication plan. This plan should include in-person team meetings (both tactical and strategic); and electronic communication, such as standards for how you use email, your CRM and team calendar. Team members need to have a voice in the practice and that they can approach any co-worker with ideas and feedback. When internal communication falters, errors increase, as does employee stress and dissatisfaction. Both the people and the business experience a negative impact. Fundamentally team members need to:

  • Proactively receive information in the business and feel in-the-loop
  • Freely deliver communication and know their voice is heard

2) Appreciation. Relationships, whether personal or professional, are a two-way street; gratitude needs to be prevalent for both parties to feel they are valued. Appreciation goes well beyond paychecks. Many studies have shown that workers are more likely to stay with a company if they feel a sense of purpose and are recognize for their contributions.

Similar to client appreciation, we recommend customizing your associate rewards and recognition. For instance, giving a gift certificate is nice but giving one to their favorite restaurant or store is much more appreciated. Getting to know your team members personally will be critical to customization. Understanding public or private acknowledgement preferences are vital to making an impact.

3) Environment. The surroundings you provide are essential to your employees’ experience. Designated parking spaces, decorating a cubicle/office, breakroom amenities, themed lunches, incorporating family members in events and simply celebrating life successes can all affect the team morale. Likewise, the culture of your practice can positively or negatively impact the environment. Hostility is often bred when problems aren’t appropriately addressed or good times recognized. When walking around your office, consider what you see and hear—do you sense tension and resentment or comradery and respect? A professional but fun and flexible work environment where growth, learning and productivity can be all in balance and will lead to employee retention.

Why not begin by evaluating the entirety of your current team experience. What are you offering your employees now in communication, appreciation and environment? How would you AND your associates score each element? With that information, begin to brainstorm ideas to further enhance your firm’s team experience. Remember, delivering client service with a smile can’t be faked. Commit to your team and the returns will be immense to you and your clients.


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

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3 Ways to Make Your Practice Less Ordinary

John Maynard Keynes once said, “Slavishly following conventional norms will often lead to disappointment.”

The ordinary is often an adversary when serving clients. Building a clientele the way everyone else has can lead to uninspiring outcomes and limit the growth of your practice. Cold calling, letter writing and hosting rubber chicken seminars are the conventional marketing mechanisms that don’t offer much of an opportunity to stand out. How are you gaining introductions?

Here are three ways to build a practice that’s less ordinary:

Get Clarity on Your Why

What drives, motivates and supports your resiliency? A great and personal story about the “why” of your business is what moves people. Having a clear why can help distinguish your practice and ensure you stay focused on you and your team’s long-term goals.

One time, I asked a planner why he got started in the business and he struggled to answer. After a few moments, he began reminiscing story about working in his father’s flower business before deciding to become a planner. He drew parallels to the lessons he learned from his father and how he has applied them to his business. He was actually moved to tears and realized that was the first time he ever thought of why he got into the business in the first place, and how that experience helped him serve his clients better. I would say that if he can get that story down (sans the tears) and relay that to every client/prospect that he is working with, it is far more powerful than the generic story about a planner’s process that is told by everyone else.

Set a Unique Business Tranche

Out of the clarity from your why, your niche or unique business tranche (UBT) can be developed. Do you work closely with the teachers in your community and want to help them build a better future? Are you a proud and retired marine who loves working with those still in active service? Do you have a talent for facilitating intergenerational wealth conversations within your network?

I once coached a planner that really aspired to grow his business with clients that have experienced a tragedy or traumatic event. Why? He felt compelled to help others that had experienced something traumatic because he could identify with them after living the horror of almost losing his daughter in a plane crash, where fortunately she survived. His why and his passion allowed him to help others financially and emotionally.

Become a Subject Matter Expert

Becoming a subject matter expert in a defined area can further solidify your value with your clients. Plan on bringing customized, overwhelming value and delight to members of your tranche through your refined focus. Become recognized within your unique business tranche by:

  • Researching websites, newsletters and other materials from industry experts to stay on top of current events, legislation, industry issues and concerns
  • Develop opportunities to identify and meet UBT prospects within their preferred environment
  • Show gratitude and exceed expectations with a personalized gift or action that is both unique and emotionally engaging

Overall, rather than doing more of the same, a distinctive approach to your marketing through a niche can lead to more personalized servicing and as a consequence, heightened satisfaction from your clients.

To start taking the road less traveled, visit our Janus Henderson Labs Professional Development Programs. Our resources include educational content, step-by-step planning tools and one-on-one consulting from practice management specialists.

Editor’s Note: A version of this blog was published on the Janus Henderson Blog and is available here.

Janus Henderson LabsTM programs are for information purposes only. There is no guarantee that the information supplied is accurate, complete or timely, nor is there any warranty with regards to the results obtained from its use. Compliance Code: C-0917-12219


John L. Evans Jr., Ed.D. is executive director of Janus Henderson LabsTM, is a practice management expert and conducts extensive consulting and training with top financial intermediaries worldwide. Evans is a keynote speaker and has authored books on client retention and client acquisition including The Book of WOW, WOW 2.0: Igniting Your Business and Your Life and A Genuine Persuasion System.

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Ideas to Emphasize Your Humanness

It’s no secret. Technology is rapidly reshaping our industry. Every aspect of your business that can be automated will be automated.

In a world where everything that can be automated is automated, how will you stand out? Everyone will have access to the same technology tools, so what will set you apart?

Here are five ideas to help you build on your humanness.

1) Client profiling. A comprehensive client profiling process puts the focus on clients and makes them, rather than their portfolios, the center of attention. The heart of the process is a human interaction.

Client profiling is hard to automate because behavioral profiling is not an exact science. Only through collaboration between client and adviser can an appropriate course be determined.

Client profiling also allows you to add value over time. A client’s behavioral profile is not static, so profiling should be an iterative process that requires ongoing client/adviser interaction.

2) Client education. Successful advisers of the future will be educators. They will inform and prepare clients to behave as successful investors.

Soldiers and athletes can be taught to do the right thing in chaotic situations. So, too, can investors. You need to prepare them for the inevitable bumps they will encounter.

3) Client experience. Enhancing the client experience involves moving from thinking about the client’s destination to thinking about creating an outstanding client journey.

When we think about the destination, we think about how to get clients from where they are today to where they need to be. How they feel along the way is not our focus.

Copy of _Our kids are fighting for a world more just and more righteous than we had ever dared to dream of._ (4).pngCreating an excellent client journey means recognizing that there are many ways our clients can get to their respective destinations. Think about every aspect of how you serve your clients. How can you make improvements that reflect the needs and preferences of your clients?

4) Communication. The availability of so many channels of communication should make communication easier and better. The opposite seems to be true. Here are some ideas for dealing with this issue.

First, be where your clients are and communicate in ways that are appealing to them. Find out how your clients want to interact and make sure they have that option.

Be responsive. If you want to stand out favorably, respond quickly and personally to your clients or prospects when they reach out. Responsiveness builds trust.

Finally, create the sense you are always standing by. We live in a 24/7 world. Clients want access to you. They want to feel your presence.

5) Websites. Your website is like your face used to be. You used to get clients by meeting them in person. Now, their first encounter with you is likely to be your website. You’ll never get a chance to meet them if they don’t like your website.

Most adviser websites are very similar. Similar words, similar imagery. Lots of facts. Very little personality. No way for a prospect to get a feeling for who you are and what you stand for.

Give prospects some basis for differentiating you from the other firms they’re going to check out. Be genuine. Make an emotional connection.

Don’t focus so much on what you do. Focus on who you are. It is much easier to differentiate yourself based on your unique personality and experiences.

Focus on Your Humanness

As the future unfolds, the key is to remember that the essence of the relationship between an adviser and a client is a deeply personal one. Build your offering on that basic truth.


Scott MacKillop is CEO of First Ascent Asset Management, a Denver-based firm that provides investment management services to financial advisers and their clients. He is a 40-year veteran of the financial services industry. He can be reached at scott@firstascentam.com.




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The Power of Believing in Yourself

Successful advisers know that believing in yourself can have a powerful impact on your attitude, motivation and overall success. However, there are times when uncontrollable issues such as market volatility, economic conditions or an occasional poor recommendation can leave you doubting yourself.

If this has happened to you, take comfort in knowing that your clients hired you because they like you, trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart. Prove your clients right by believing in yourself, in your integrity, your honesty and your commitment to helping them; when you focus on things that you can control, you harness the power of belief.

Norman Vincent Peale said it best when he said, “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

So how can you increase your belief in yourself to become the adviser or agents that you’ve always wanted to be?

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach for creating powerful business belief systems.

Step 1: Understanding Your Current Business Beliefs

The best way to find clarity about your business belief systems is to simply fill in the following blanks, “What I believe about _______ is _________ because __________.” Simply insert any possible subject about the business in the first blank, the belief in the second blank and the rationale in the third. Now, you’ve got some understanding about what your belief system is on the subject. The real question is will your current belief system help you or hurt you in the long run?

Take Frank P. for example, a veteran financial adviser with 12 years of experience who had a belief system that prospecting was a numbers game because most people don’t want to make any changes with their money. As a result of his belief on the matter, he would need to double his efforts to double his success.

Step 2: Explore New Possibilities

The next step is to be open to exploring new possibilities that there may be an alternative to a negative belief system. In order to do this, you need to question any belief system that limits your success. Remember, you weren’t born with a specific belief system. Instead, they are learned over time.

In Frank’s case, he needed to cope with his fear of rejection by creating a belief system that prospecting is merely a numbers game so that he could eliminate any responsibility for his actions and not feel rejected. In other words, if prospecting is merely the-law-of-averages (you have to speak to “X” number of people to get one prospect) because most people don’t want to make changes with their finances than he shouldn’t be taking any rejection personally. Now, he had to test his new belief system.

So I asked Frank if working twice as hard is something he wanted to do or was he open to learning how to work twice as smart. He quickly chose the latter. So, I taught him three techniques for handling common objections. We practiced the techniques using role-play until he got the hang of them and he was ready to try them out with prospects.

Step 3: Reinforcing Your New Belief System

Once you are open to new possibilities, you must be willing to take action in order to reinforce a new belief system.

Since Frank understood and could role-play these new handling objections techniques he was more confident to give them a try. He made several calls and over the course of a week he realized that overcoming objections is merely a process. This simple realization was all he needed to reinforce a new belief system about prospecting which was, “Prospecting can be much easier if you are prepared for objections because people are open to a second opinion once they see the value in it.”

Why Your Beliefs Shape Your Results

If you can relate to keeping a negative business belief system that is holding you back, apply the aforementioned three steps to reshape your results. Holding onto something that is not moving you forward is a surefire way to sabotage helping others. If you can harness the power of belief you will understand how much control you actually have in shaping your own destiny!

If you would like any of the handling objections techniques or tools mentioned in this piece, they are complimentary 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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Got Crypto Gains? Diversify.

The hype surrounding cryptocurrencies was real. But for many retail investors it appears to have calmed down, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given how many caught FOMO and bought when Bitcoin was at $19,000. But, the fourth annual Consensus Blockchain Technology Summit, which was in early May, told a different story.

For the individuals working in cryptocurrencies and Blockchain, the excitement hasn’t died down–it’s continuing to grow; organizers of the conference report more than 4,000 people attended the conference, which was held May 14-16 in New York City. Attendees came from all walks of crypto–startups, investors, financial institutions and more.

As I think about the conference and the excitement within the cryptocurrency community, I can’t help but think about those early investors sitting on large profits—large paper profits. We’ve all read the stories about the millionaire high-school and college students and have seen the pictures of Lambos purchased with Bitcoin proceeds. A lot of young wealth has been created thanks to the explosion in this new asset class.

At what point do these investors take the opportunity to shift some of their fortunes to more traditional investments?

Selling out of crypto and reinvesting into boring low-cost ETFs is blasphemy for most early investors; many initially invested in cryptocurrencies because of a distrust of the current system. Transitioning profits from an ecosystem in alignment with their beliefs (and has been so good to them) to the current system they do not trust is probably not an easy thing to do.

I get it.

But, it’s the smart thing to do. Having a large concentration of your wealth in one asset class is a risky proposition, no matter how much you believe in it.


Enron Corporation WAS an energy, commodity, and services company; in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s, it grew to become one of the world’s largest and most respected companies. In 1995, Enron was named “Most Innovative Company” by Fortune Magazine; it would hold this title for six consecutive years. By 2000, Enron’s stock price rose to an all-time high of $90.56; it appeared as Enron could do no wrong.

As the stock price rose, Enron employees saw their net worths rise to levels they could have never dreamt they’d see; most Enron employees had a high concentration of company stock. One of the investment options in the 401(k) was Enron stock, making it easy to leverage their exposure to Enron–salary, benefits and retirement were all riding on the company.  Enron also provided the 401(k) match in company stock, with the requirement that employees be older than 50 in order to dispose of the stock. But, that wasn’t an issue because the company doing so well and the stock was doing even better—it was hard for employees to see past the wealth they were accumulating and understand the risk they were taking on.

If you don’t already know, I’m sure you can guess how this story turns out.

December 2nd, 2001 Enron filed for bankruptcy after a slew of accounting issues, and it was at that moment those employees with Enron stock understood the risk of holding a highly concentrated position in their retirement accounts. Remember how those shares were trading at all-time highs at $90 months ago, they closed at $0.26 a share.

My stomach just dropped as I wrote that…from $90 to $0.26. $74 billion in shareholder value was lost in a matter of months, and if that wasn’t bad enough, so were the pensions that so many were relying on for retirement (see this article from December 2001 in the Wall Street Journal).

Lives were ruined because one of the founding principles in investing was ignored–don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, aka diversify.

Think that was a long time ago and things have changed?


GE was once one of America’s greatest companies. If you don’t follow the stock market closely, you may not be aware of the wealth lost over the last few years by GE investors, which, unfortunately, like Enron, included employees.

Over the last few years, GE’s stock price has been on a downward slide, with no sign of a revival any time soon. Unlike Enron, it wasn’t a scandal that brought on GE’s deterioration. Instead, bad business decisions and investments crumbled a once great company and led to billions of dollars in wealth lost.

As of April 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal, approximately $140 billion in market wealth has evaporated from GE investors, many of whom are employees who owned stock through employee stock purchase plans and 401(k)s. That’s near twice the amount of the Enron disaster.

What To Do?

Early cryptocurrency investors are not much different than Enron and GE employees; they’ve built wealth that could be life-changing, but that wealth is at risk due to it being concentrated to a single asset class. They have a choice: do they ignore the lessons from Enron and GE, or do they begin to diversify to protect their wealth from cryptocurrencies losing their luster?

If you find yourself in a position of wanting to diversify your portfolio meeting with a financial adviser would be a good first step. While many financial advisers, myself included, may not be ready to recommend which cryptocurrencies to invest in, helping to diversify a cryptocurrency portfolio is not much different than diversifying a stock portfolio. You could try to do it on your own, but working with a financial adviser can help make sure you don’t minor, but costly mistakes. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating and developing a strategy for diversifying your cryptocurrency portfolio:

  • Tax planning for the sales (don’t think about skipping out on Uncle Sam).
  • An investment strategy for the traditional portion of your portfolio.
  • An ongoing diversification strategy.
  • Ongoing tax planning.
  • Creating a long-term plan to not squander the opportunity.

A plan to diversify your portfolio does not mean you have to exit the cryptocurrency totally; you probably won’t find many financial advisers who will admit this, but I believe in the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think there is tremendous opportunity ahead and wealth will continue to be created over the coming years, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the risk of concentration.

I also believe in the future of Amazon, Apple and Alphabet, but I would never put all of my assets in those three stocks.

If you’ve had the fortune of creating wealth via cryptocurrency, there is no shame in shifting some of that wealth to more traditional investments. You don’t have to abandon your beliefs about cryptocurrency and blockchain, but you should look to hedge your bet and diversify.

You don’t need to look at your further than the examples of Enron and GE.

Editor’s note: A version of this blog post originally appeared on Justin Castelli’s blog “All About Your Benjamins.” You can find the original post here

Justin Castelli

Justin Castelli, CFP®, is a financial adviser and the founder of RLS Wealth Management, a registered investment adviser in Fishers, Indiana. He publishes a blog called All About Your Benjamins. He was recently quoted in an article about the financial planning implications of cryptocurrency in the June issue of the Journal of Financial Planning.


June 2018 JITR


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Advisers: Recognize Your Walk-Away Moment

In business—as in life—the lessons are often in the mistakes we make. But sometimes the better knowledge is seeing the mistake coming and avoiding it altogether. A routine exercise for business owners is the “what worked” and “what didn’t work” review of their practice. For many advisers, when considering the “didn’t work” part of the equation, the overriding theme is “I knew better but…”

Here are a few scenarios:

  • Adviser A: Had a client ask him to manage half of his assets, while the client self-managed the other half.
  • Adviser B: Built his practice with farmers and ranchers, then found himself working with two ultra-wealthy clients that were taking all his time.
  • Adviser C: Was amazed when he got a call from an $80 million lottery winner. He was managing only $35 million at the time.

Each of these advisers got to a point where either they were fired or they fired the client. On paper, or with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to say they should have never taken on the client. But how do you prepare yourself if you’ve taken on a client who’s not a good fit? What can you do to identify your walk away moment?

Why Walk Away? Two Sides of a Bad Relationship

Each scenario was a challenge for the adviser who was involved—a challenge that upset their business. It is easy to see the adviser’s side of the bad relationship, what we often miss is the other side. The effects it has on the office:

1) Staff. The staff has to deal with major interruptions that an ill-fitting client brings to the table. Requests that are outside of normal process and procedures take time to learn and process. It drags down efficiency and because it is new, opens up potential for mistakes

2) Marketing and client relationship management. Time spent on ill-fitting clients takes away from marketing and new client acquisition for many advisers. What could the adviser be doing better with his/her time?

3) Revenue. For the adviser who lives in an AUM world, we know that with planning, onboarding, etc., the revenue earned is backloaded over time. In other words, the time you spend upfront with a client is earned back over the years from the advisory fees. A short-term relationship typically does not pay for itself

Avoiding in the First Place

One of the challenges for most advisers is to understand their target. I have often written that creating a persona or an avatar of your ideal client as the way to specialize your practice, and to focus on a niche. Some advisers however, are not ready for that level of specialization and a few may not go that deep. No matter where you come down on identifying the ideal client, I think it always starts with a few things:

  • What is the target? Simply stated, in the broadest terms possible, everyone in the “class” of people that you want to work with. The class could be the type of business that you find most interesting such as legacy planning or income planning or it could be retirees in general etc.
  • What is the ideal? Again, in broadest terms, what do they value or what will they value from your relationship?
  • What is the deal breaker? What will they not value, or what would cause you to walk away?

Note: Each of these is a subset of the others. The “deal breaker” is a subset of your ideal clients; the ideal clients are a subset of the target. Knowing the deal breaker before they walk in the door makes it easy to say no, or to direct them to someone else that can fit their needs.

What Happened Next

The client fired Adviser A (above) after a year. The client’s reasoning, “I know you outperformed me but I just can’t give up managing my own assets. I guess I’m not much of a delegator.” All of Adviser A’s pre-work, planning and effort was wasted.

Adviser B terminated his relationship with the ultra-high-net-worth clients. He found them a home with another adviser that had a more investment-focused service model. The staff was thrilled to go back their type of clients—ones that appreciated planning and were less demanding.

Adviser C could not compete with the constant second-guessing by competitors and family members trying to get a foothold into the $80 million lottery winner’s life. Every waking moment was spent defending and babysitting the assets and the client. He gladly went back to his recently ignored book right after the new client fired him.

We all know when something does not feel right. Maybe we should be prepared beforehand, in writing, so we are more prepared to walk away when it doesn’t.

Editor’s note: A version of this post appeared on SEI’s blog Practically Speaking. You can find it here

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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Using Purposeful Investing to Engage the Next Generation

Oftentimes the children of your clients won’t stay with you once their parents pass away. But you can change that.

You’ve met your client Jeremy’s son, Tristan. Jeremy is very proud of his family and you also know that some of his fondest moments are of all the time he spends hiking, camping and skiing with his son. His office is filled with pictures of the two of them building memories in the great outdoors.

While Tristan is just a junior in college, you would like to find a way to start getting to know him better now, despite the fact that his father is a good 15 years away from retirement. Tristan has made some of his own money already, both through his summer internship at a sporting goods marketing startup and by serving as a waiter on a restaurant near campus. Some of his friends have already opened IRAs, while his money has been sitting in his student checking account.

Helping your clients have a plan in place that will ensure the successful transition of good habits and wealth to family members starts with meaningful conversations across age groups, and no age is too young to start.

By combining the pursuit of sound investments with a topic that resonates with younger generations’ belief systems, advisers can foster a solid foundation of financial skills.

A Meaningful Connection

In Tristan’s case, you already have some reliable tips on how to connect with him. Knowing that he is an avid outdoorsman like his father, finding investments that align with his interests is a great way to start discussing his financial future. Helping him make decisions that will allow him to have enough expendable income to continue to enjoy his hobbies is key, such as that spring break trip to Vail his friends won’t stop talking about. Sharing that he can invest in funds that are aligned with his love of nature is something he may not be aware of, and allows you to show your value in the relationship early on.

By focusing on investing money in ways that influence environmental, social or governance (ESG) factors, younger generations have the opportunity to connect their beliefs with their financial savvy. With 84 percent of millennial investors interested in some type of sustainable investing, according to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing (February 2015), purpose investing can be a key entry point to discussing wealth transfer.

Further, the research shows that younger investors are not only more likely to integrate sustainability into their consumer behavior, but they are also more likely to exit investments if they have objections to a company’s activities.

By combining the pursuit of competitive risk-adjusted returns with a topic that resonates with younger generations’ belief systems, you can help create a solid foundation of financial skills that can be critical to establishing good money habits for life. Fostering these connections well before a life event also helps you develop a multi-generational relationship with families. This is critical for planners given that 66 percent of children move to a new financial planner following the death of a parent.

And at the very least, you can find a new ski buddy.

Editor’s Note: A version of this blog was published on the Janus Henderson Blog and is available here.

Matt Sommer

Matt Sommer is vice president and leads the Defined Contribution and Wealth Advisor Services team at Janus. In this role, he provides advice and consultation to financial advisers surrounding some of today’s most complex retirement issues.