Customized One-on-One Business Coaching for Financial Advisors
Don't Get Spooked by Client Acquisition
Friday, October 30, 2020
Don't Get Spooked by Client Acquisition
Finding opportunities in the pandemic.
One of the biggest questions we are hearing from financial advisors right now is, “How do I get new clients when I can’t meet people in person?” Prospecting challenges were real for advisors pre-pandemic so the added social-distancing challenges have left advisors and business owners scrambling to figure out how to adjust their process so they can still find prospecting success.
A lot of advisors aren’t confident they are putting their best foot forward with selling their value via phone or zoom meeting.
It can feel poorly timed to reach out to prospects, especially if you are speaking with someone who is in an industry that has been hit hard by COVID restrictions.
Many are checking in more with existing clients or have experienced process changes within their office therefore they have less time to prospect.
Here are some important things to remember:
Know Your Value
Prospects who do not have an advisor or perhaps have an advisor who doesn’t connect with them regularly, will be feeling even more in need of advice now versus before. Now is a good time, and we have seen some advisors go back to reach out to former/cold prospects as well.
Many people are concerned about their finances right now. This is a prime opportunity to ensure your clients are aware you are there as a resource to help their family and friends if they have questions. Don’t be the best kept secret.
Make a Good Impression Online/Over Phone
Always take a few minutes to do introductions and chat before discussing business. You can gauge this introduction timeframe based on how much your prospect is talking. Give time for questions and comments. Use visual aids and send ahead of time if you are meeting by phone or have onscreen for video. Slow down your pace and annunciate clearly and ask good, emotional connecting questions.
To hear more about client acquisition strategies, please contact us.
A lesson about business adaptability and perseverance.
If you look up the word “Moxie,” you will see it is a noun meaning energy, courage and determination. It is also the brand name of a carbonated beverage, which is among the first mass-produced soft drinks.
We have all heard of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, but we may be surprised to learn that Moxie Soda, originating in New England in 1876, outsold Coke at a time and was so popular that the word “Moxie” became a part of the American vocabulary - every marketer’s dream! So why have most people today never heard of this soft drink? According to historians, after the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, Moxie decided to cut almost its entire marketing and advertising budget. Meanwhile, Coke decided to ramp up its advertising budget despite the tough times. The rest is history.
There are parallels that can be drawn from the Moxie story and the hesitation businesses and advisors might be experiencing right now with spending. The good news is advisors are optimistic. In fact, we see most successful advisors investing in their business, despite the pandemic.
Findings from the Natixis Investment Managers 2020 Global Financial Professional Survey revealed that financial professionals believe they will see annualized growth of 14.3% over the next three years, from new clients and new assets from current clients.
The most adaptable advisors are embracing digital strategies and viewing these uncertain times as an opportunity to boost their visibility. Here are some strategies to consider:
Online Meetings - advisors are going virtual with their meetings to see clients regularly and utilize their time efficiently while also using programs like Calendly to schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails.
Online Surveys/Forms - advisors are taking administrative tasks online to fill out forms and surveys when appropriate. This makes it easier for clients. Printing and scanning is tedious when there are much better options now like Monkey Survey and Google forms etc.
Website/Social Media - advisors are focused more on utilizing their online presence as an important resource for clients and prospects to learn more about their business philosophies and topics they feel are most important to their readers.
E-newsletters/Videos/Podcasts - advisors are sending specific messaging directly to their clients with the latest updates/announcements and words of advice during uncertain times.
You can implement many different strategies that will not break the bank like previous advertising expenses seen in the Moxie days. Advisory businesses do not need to have the budget of Coca-Cola to come out on top either!
Now is the time to turn a crisis into an opportunity and position yourself as an innovative advisor who is ready to service their clients, in the most effective ways - no matter what.
Having spent over 30 years in the financial services industry, I have found two things to be true; everything and nothing has changed with the day-to-day challenges advisors face.
Everything has changed with technology and moving from paper to electronic, regulatory requirements, fee disclosure, anti-spam requirements, the amount of back-end support, medical underwriting, saturated marketplace and competition, and the list goes on.
Nothing has changed with one simple fact; advisors need support to survive and thrive.
I’ve always enjoyed working with financial advisors. My most satisfying experiences have come from helping advisors turn their businesses from struggling to thriving. Being an advisor can be a lonely business, and often the piece of the puzzle that’s missing is having someone in your corner.
Since joining The Personal coach last Spring, I’ve been implementing practice management strategies into advisors’ businesses. It’s also been a privilege to be featured in Forum Magazine discussing COI relationships, representing the team at Advocis meetings, and addressing closed audience sessions with Faith Life Financial. Coming up next is sharing insights on understanding your finances at our Fall TPC GeneratorTM event.
Having The Personal Coach’s support to pursue my adventure is motivating and exciting. Most importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of an incredible team that leaves no stone unturned with the depth and breadth of their expertise. The Personal Coach has fantastic resources; HR support, team development, succession planning, marketing, and branding. As a team, we provide full-spectrum support for advisors. We often refer to ourselves as an extension of an advisor’s team. It’s rare to find a support team that has so many arrows in the quiver. This allows me to start each day with enthusiasm to help advisors find their way and fully develop their businesses and enjoy the fruits of their labours. I believe strongly that success in business is more likely to be achieved and, more importantly - savoured if it’s integrated with a fulfilling personal life. When we work together and clear out the clutter, we achieve success.
Our office has been working with Pat Giesbrecht for the past six months, and I am so happy with the results we are getting. We have completed many projects; DISC profiles, re-segmentation, written procedures, Contact Management changes, new technology implemented, job descriptions reviewed and solidified, the opportunity for all to share our progress, challenges, and successes. The best part is the teamwork this has inspired, the sharing, the helping and overall coming together for a common goal. It’s been far more comfortable for us to share the workload when our goals were clear. The staff took much of it on, were accountable, and excited about the changes.
Bridging the communication between advisors and their support staff.
Monday, June 17, 2019
Heather Amlin, Operations & Efficiencies Coach
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started with The Personal Coach. Since starting, I have felt blessed to be able to take the time I needed to figure out how to use my “unique abilities” (cue Art Schooley’s voice inside my head) so I can best help guide advisors and their teams. I also have Fortunato Restagno to thank. He speaks to his branding clients about their compelling story which inspired me to discover my compelling story.
I spent many years in the financial services business as a Marketing and Operations Assistant in the trenches. Subsequently, I was a co-business owner of an advisory firm who purchased 2 other advisory firms. Finally, I became an ex-business owner transitioning clients and myself into a new role with our merger. You can imagine the many hats that needed to be worn for the merger to go smoothly.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenges of each role. I have especially loved the fact that each role has given me an opportunity to create processes, procedures and work with advisory support teams. It’s something I am passionate about and I enjoy bridging the communication between advisors and their support staff. With that being said, I’ve decided to focus my coaching on developing better operations and efficiencies with advisory teams.
I know first-hand the challenges an advisor has to deal with. It can be challenging to find time to listen to your support staff without distractions. If both the advisor and the staff member(s) are receiving calls, emails and texts, when do you find the time to get ready for meetings, process paperwork, keep an organized office AND create processes and procedures so that things run smoothly? Every advisory firm is unique and different - from the advisor doing it all themselves to the offices with 2-3 advisors and a support team for each. No matter the size, you still need to have processes and procedures in place. Every person in the office should know what those are, even if they don’t have to use each one.
I use a back-office checklist, which focuses on technology, administration, client services, and investment and insurance procedures. Reviewing this with advisory teams has led to great discussions around weaknesses in existing processes and identifying where there are no processes at all. We also review strengths and affirm the areas that are running smoothly.
As I embark on my second year with TPC, I’ve expanded this process to include the integration of new employees into an advisor’s office. We call it the Coaching for Integration Success Program. One of the challenges of working in small/medium team environments is how to set your new employees up for success as you try to train them in the many areas of your busy office. Having a clear agenda for their first day, their first week, and their first quarter is a great step! So, I keep Kim Poulin’s motto in mind and off I go….”Hire for attitude, train for skill.”
Are you an advisor who sees the value in podcasts? Are you wondering if creating podcasts is worth your time and effort? Podcasts are an inexpensive way to position your business and add value.
For the technically disinclined, a podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video, which a user can download to listen to. If you are already creating content for a newsletter or e-campaign, or have hired The Personal Coach to create content for you, why not summarize your written communications in a podcast.
Consider this before doing so:
Check your dealer’s compliance regulations. Some may have specific guidelines and others may not allow it.
2. Ideal Client
Will a podcast be valued and listened to by your ideal clients? Age, region, occupation and psychographics play a major part in what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your marketing strategies.
3. Hire a Social Media Expert
You may wish to hire a social media expert who has the ability to effectively share your podcast with your network. Send your podcast to your clients, centres of influence and prospects.
4. Compelling and Engaging Content
Your podcast should be educational and help position you as the expert. Avoid bragging or directly selling your services. Any tips or ideas you share should be followed with a sample client story that will resonate with listeners.
5. Other Tips
Have a catchy intro piece with music. Use your slogan if you have one. Use a novel strategy - create curiosity, develop your characters, have a climax and a memorable ending. Make sure your microphone is clear.
Our Coaches, Kim and Heather, have been working away on further developing our hiring and integration programs offered to advisors and their teams. Hiring a team member can be a long and onerous task, especially without guidance or experience. We have discovered that many advisors prefer someone else handling certain aspects of the process – and often, the entire process. Our hiring programs allow you to continue to focus on what you do best and delegate the hiring to us. We become an extension of your team - your human resources and hiring team!
Key elements of the coaching process include, attracting, hiring, retaining and compensating the right team members; understanding each team member’s competencies, skills and responsibilities; having each person in the right role and building team effectiveness, efficiency and cohesiveness.
Services available include:
Identifying the candidate pool
Narrowing the candidate pool
Due diligence – screening final candidates
We also have a Coaching for Integration Success Program that will help you hit the ground running from day one with your new hire. Your customized program includes the following:
A copy of the Right Fit II Booklet - Integration and Development of a New Team Member
A customized agenda to follow for your employee’s first day and their first week
A comprehensive training checklist with a focus on the first 3 months of your employee’s development
On-site training the first day followed by video conference/phone and email consultation with the advisor, training team and the new employee, as required
Failure to hire right can be very expensive and time consuming. To learn more about these exciting services and how to hire and integrate an exceptional team member, please connect at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was invited to speak at a dealer conference to discuss the importance of having the right people around you and how to create a great team. All of the attendees at the conference received a complimentary copy of The Personal Coach booklet, The Right Fit, which is a guide to help advisors make great hires.
At the end of the presentation, “George,” one of the attendees, approached me and asked if I could help him with a hiring project. We booked a conference call for the following week so I could learn more about why he felt that he needed to make a hire for his team, which already consisted of four support staff.
During our call, George shared with me that because of his large clientele and significant asset book, his current team could not handle all of the transactions and client requests. George had concluded that he needed to hire another team member.
I asked George one of my favourite questions, “Do you have too many clients or do you have too many non-ideal clients?” George had never heard this question before and asked what I meant. I shared with him that, as coaches, we see many advisors like him building a large clientele. However, as they evolve and mature as a financial advisor, many of the clients do not fit their ideal client profile. I suggested to George that before we move forward with a new hire, we complete an exercise called Best Case Scenario from Cotton Systems. This exercise examines the 10 best sales that an advisor has made over the last 6 to 12 months. George agreed to complete this exercise with the help of his team.
At our next meeting, I could tell that George, having completed the Best Case Scenario exercise, had experienced an epiphany. He was happy to have spent time reflecting and better understanding who his top clients are and more importantly, was excited to see how we could apply this information to his business model. We used the information from the exercise and completed an Ideal Client Profile (ICP), which we committed to paper. We referred to this for the next exercise by starting to use this ICP as part of our referral/introduction process.
I asked George, “Tell me about how you’ve built your contact management system and when it was last updated?” George said that he has a program called Act! and has been using the system for 8 years. I shared with George that a contact management system is not just a technology tool. It needs to be viewed as a business process encompassing 4 steps:
Building a relationship management strategy for each segment
Identifying a champion to manage the system
Using technology to manage the process – in this case,
it was Act!
George said, “This is all fine but I really need your help in making a hire.” I said to George that I understood this but before we made a hire, we needed to “right size” his practice. I shared with him a number of stories where we had completed this exercise with advisors with large clienteles and in many cases, the advisor decided to right size the practice and by doing so, decided that he/she did not need to make an additional hire. I asked George to go along with me on this one and work on his contact management system before we discuss hiring. George begrudgingly agreed to take this step. I then showed him some sample customized segmentation scorecards that we had created for other clients and I suggested that we build a customized segmentation scorecard for him. He agreed and we built this scorecard with a particular focus on the following items:
Size of assets
How clients value the services
The client history of providing referrals
One of our support team members at TPC created a scorecard with the above items and a rating system to grade each client from 1 to 5. We had 7 items with the maximum score on each item being 5, which meant that the best client score could be 35. We then created a rating system using the numbers so that we could create 5 different segments – platinum, gold, silver, bronze and lead. I left this exercise for George and his team to complete and within a month, George sent me an email outlining that he had the following clients in each segment:
With this exercise behind us, I arranged to book my next face-to-face coaching meeting with George and asked him to have his employee responsible for booking appointments to join the meeting. This employee, “Kathy,“ is very engaged in the business and was quite intrigued with what we were going to achieve during this meeting.
Next, we built a relationship management strategy with each segment. I showed Kathy and George some sample relationship management strategies. We spent the balance of the morning outlining a relationship management strategy that Kathy thought she could implement for each of the segments. Our most concentrated relationship management strategy would be focused on Platinum clients and minimal for Bronze and Lead clients. As part of this exercise, I asked for names of clients that fit in each of these categories so George and Kathy could think about these clients when delivering their strategy. Putting client names to the categories helped us immensely in creating strategies for each segment.
The third step in building the contact management system is identifying a champion. Kathy was up for the challenge and she was excited that she had clarity around managing clients going forward.
The next step after completing this project was to focus on helping with a new hire. George was no longer as eager to work on this project because he discovered what so many advisors discover after this exercise – he felt that a number of clients should be sold off because they did not fit the ideal client profile and decided he wanted to focus on “right sizing” his business.
After having a thorough review of the business, not surprisingly, George and Kathy determined they could sell off 25% of their clientele. This would only reduce their revenue by 10% and then they could focus on bringing in more Platinum and Gold clients. We helped identify advisors that would be interested in buying these clients.
At the next meeting, we shared with the full team what we had been doing. After announcing that we had right sized the business, the other team members were in total agreement with selling off 25% of the clientele. Guess what happened next? They decided that adding a new team member was no longer necessary if they pulled the trigger on the sale!
I suggested to George that we take a coaching break and give the team time to implement what we agreed upon. I followed up in six months and George shared with me that he had almost replaced the 10% of lost revenue because he was now focused on his best clients. Additionally, those best clients are providing him with introductions to people just like them. His team is now more energized, has less stress and everyone is feeling like they are running the business whereas previously, they felt like the business was running them.
Good advisors do an excellent job of building their clientele but quite often, they do not take the time to review their clientele and see if these clients are a good fit for their current practice. Also, some advisors have “FOMO” - a fear of missing out. In other words, they think that they will miss opportunities if they release some of their non-ideal clients when in fact they will find more opportunities when adding Platinum clients in their place.
Here are 5 key business areas that every advisor must review as part of their acquisition due diligence process.
It is not an overstatement to say that due diligence, or the lack thereof, can ultimately define the success or failure of any business acquisition. Simply stated, due diligence is the process of investigating certain key aspects of a target firm’s business, including its finances, client base, operations, regulatory risk profile, technology and culture. Its primary purpose is to help the acquiring advisor answer 3 fundamental questions:
1. Should I buy?
2. If so, how much should I pay?
3. How should I structure the payment price?
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from advisors is, “What areas of a target firm should I review and what questions should I ask?” Since most advisors are looking to acquire firms that are well managed, compliant and positioned for growth, here are 5 key business areas that every advisor must review as part of their acquisition due diligence process.
1. Strategic (or Cultural) Fit with Seller
One of the most overlooked aspects of any acquisition is the degree to which the acquiring advisor aligns with the seller’s values, business and investment philosophy, and commitment to client service. Generally speaking, the closer the fit, the greater the likelihood of a seamless transition of the business. Imagine the likelihood of success where two advisors have diametrically opposite views on issues such as the value of financial planning, investment philosophy, fee transparency, client service standards, etc. How easy do you think it will be for the buyer to retain clients used to and comfortable dealing with an advisor who has fundamentally different way of looking at these issues? We typically recommend to clients who are buyers that they first satisfy themselves as to the strategic fit and “chemistry” with the seller prior to moving forward in the transaction process.
2. The Target Firm’s Client Base
Buyers should then undertake a detailed review of the target firm’s client base to ensure alignment with their own “ideal client profile,” to understand potential growth opportunities, and to identify potential underlying risks to the business. Specific areas of inquiry should include:
The number of clients that have assets greater than $500K, between $250K and $500K, between $100 and $250K and less than $100K
The average asset value per client
Demographic split by age and gender
The percentage of assets in registered vs. non-registered accounts
Whether there are any product gaps that present growth opportunities
The number of clients that have a financial plan
The number of high-risk clients as well as high-risk product offerings
The target firm’s client base is the lifeblood of its business. Take the time to deeply understand its composition and the quality of the relationships with the seller.
3. The Target Firm’s Regulatory Risk Profile
Buyers should take a hard look at the target firm’s regulatory risk profile by asking, “Does the firm’s workflows, processes and procedures align with regulatory rules and expectations?” We recommend to clients that they select a random sample of the seller’s files and assess the following as part of their regulatory review:
The suitability of each client’s investment holdings
Any improper use of embedded commissions (i.e. instances of churning or use of DSC with elderly clients)
Instances of KYC uniformity across accounts
Sufficiency of notes in the file and instances of signed blank or altered forms
Any client complaints or regulatory sanctions
Whether the advisor has dealt appropriately with elderly clients
Instances of high-risk product offerings
Clearly, the greater the regulatory risk, the less valuable the target firm will be to a buyer. Reviewing the seller’s files from this perspective also gives the buyer a good sense of the seller’s approach and commitment to client care and service.
4. Operational Effectiveness
Buyers should examine the target firm’s operational effectiveness and efficiencies with respect to processing trades, client service, financial management and human resources. Consider the following:
Does the firm rely on one or more key individuals to get things done or is there a set of systems and clearly defined processes and procedures in place that are effective, reliable and scalable?
Has the firm invested in technology such as a CRM system that will make it easier for the buyer to seamlessly connect with and service clients?
Do team members have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and competitive compensation structure in place and a desire to continue to work with the buyer?
Firms that operate based on a system of best practices and procedures are much more valuable than those that do not.
5. Financial Health of the Firm
Buyers need to determine that a target firm is financially well managed and able to deliver stable, predictable cash flow. The higher the percentage of revenue that will continue after a deal closes, the better. Key areas to review include:
Revenue analysis over preceding 3 year period
Expense ratios including expenditures on team members, benefits, technology, rent, etc.
Annual budgets and monthly P&L statements
Whether there are any outstanding debts, taxes or other obligations owed by the seller’s corporation
How a firm manages its finances and profit margins will directly affect its perceived value to a buyer.
Our advice to clients is simply this: do not underestimate the value of due diligence. Most advisors fail to pay enough attention to this part of the acquisition process, which is unfortunate because it is only through rigorous due diligence that an advisor can truly understand the practice they are about to acquire and its true value. If you would like to speak to a coach about business acquisition, please connect at email@example.com.
Afsar Shah, Business & Regulatory Coach at 9:48 AM
Business & Personal Planning for 2019: LATEST NEWSLETTER
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Check out our Fall 2018 Newsletter including helpful tips for advisors. This edition is focused on personal planning, business planning as well as branding for 2019! Please connect if you have any questions or comments.
The Personal Coach Winter 2016 Newsletter for financial advisors is here! Our latest newsletter is packed with tips and ideas to help amplify your business. To view the newsletter, click on the image below.