By Jonathan Bernstein, CIMA, Stringer Asset Management
Over the past two decades we have been very fortunate to have worked with some very successful advisory practices.
The diversity and entrepreneurial nature of the financial advisory business coupled with the generosity of many willing to share their experiences has given us a valuable glimpse into the some of the day to day business practices of some of the best and brightest.
The following five represent just a small subset of the business practices that every advisor knows they should do, however, many simply don’t execute on these principles. Therefore, we thought it would be timely to discuss five business practice principles for financial advisors that we believe get overlooked.
1) MEET WITH ALL YOUR CLIENTS MORE OFTEN
Stay constantly engaged in discovery. Life moves fast and your existing clients have ever-evolving needs that you likely will not know about without asking.
Every six months, consider sitting down with you clients to discuss changing jobs and income, concerns about family medical needs, along with college costs, health care and life insurance. These evolutions may change a client’s goals and ideas about their lifestyle in the future.
The best meetings you may have with your clients start with your sitting down with them and asking, “What’s going on in your life?”
2) SET AT LEAST ONE MEETING EACH DAY
It can be overwhelming trying to think about how to prospect for new business and fill your pipeline with people you actually want to do business with.
Some advisors take a targeted approach with niche marketing, advertising, hard mailings, and email marketing campaigns. These all have merits but can be overwhelming projects that take ample time and planning. At the end of the day it’s just like eating an elephant, you must approach it one bite at a time.
Try to not get overwhelmed but instead focus on what one successful financial advisor told me: “My job is simple. Every day, I try to set one appointment. It fills my calendar and ensures that I am engaged in relationship building every day.
Sometimes the meetings don’t get me anywhere, some have led to lifelong friendships and some I view as having made my career.” It’s much easier to figure out how to call around to get a meeting than it is to figure out how you are going grow your business 20%.
3) ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
Think about how you met, developed and nurtured the relationships you have with your best clients. Like any relationship, it started somewhere and grew because you helped them in ways that made a difference in their lives.
This happened because you put in the time and effort to learn your craft. Most importantly, stay positive. It’s very easy to become jaded by negative advertising about the industry and talk of robo-advisors replacing human advice. There are thinning margins on products and services and some advisors have simply chosen to compete on price.
Understand that every industry has its challenges and there will always be a cheaper option, a new technology offering or someone painting the industry with a broad brush. Don’t get caught up in that, fees are only an issue in the absence of value.
WebMD will never replace a doctor and like your best clients, there are folks out there who really need you and all you have to offer. Puff out your chest and get to work!
4) FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO AND ONLY DO THAT
Most aspects of the business require a minimum of 110% effort to be successful. As your practice matures, you will find yourself pulled in many directions. There are always ways to work smarter but you must choose your battles if you want to grow the business.
If over the years you have morphed into a money manager, you know that managing money is a full-time job that includes a tremendous amount of research and due diligence. Those advisors follow news, earnings reports/guidance, macro-economic information, industry legislation, etc. They pour over balance sheets, fundamental and technical analysis on positions they own and potential buys.
If that is your passion, you need to add service, sales and marketing staff or you will see your business shrink through natural attrition because you certainly don’t have time to spend prospecting. If you have a passion for sales and relationship building, outsource the day to day investment management.
As one advisor told me, “I got to a point where I just stopped growing and it wasn’t until I realized that I was not a money manager and didn’t really want to be one that I was able to get back on track.”
He went on to say, “It was smarter for me to research and find great money managers who offered turnkey solutions than to try to do that myself. I freed myself up to engage with my clients and grow the business. I changed my life and I’m much happier.”
5) BALANCE YOUR WORK AND LIFE WHILE CELEBRATING SUCCESS
Last but certainly not least, you must make time for a life outside of work. It is possible to become wildly successful at the expense of everything else.
However, success should not be defined only by income. Your professional and personal happiness is the ultimate measure and it is important to take the time to celebrate those successes with the people you love.