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Too many clients or too many non-ideal clients?

A CASE STUDY ON “RIGHT SIZING” YOUR BUSINESS

 

 

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:

 

  1. Segmentation
  2. Building a relationship management strategy for each segment
  3. Identifying a champion to manage the system
  4. Using technology to manage the process – in this case,
  5. 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
  • Future potential
  • Coachability
  • How clients value the services
  • The client history of providing referrals
  • Occupation status
  • Family income

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:

 

Platinum clients – 21
Gold clients – 147
Silver clients – 101
Bronze clients – 174
Lead clients – 57

 

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.

 

Please contact us at confidence@thepersonalcoach.ca if you would like to speak with a coach about right sizing your business.

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Are you a Finder, Minder, or Grinder?

Advisors should use their strengths to grow their businesses. Are you a finder, minder, or grinder?

 

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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. 

 

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Referral Arrangements

Referral Arrangement Rules (Part 1): What You Need to Know


 

Earlier this year, when the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) delivered their long-awaited proposals regarding embedded commissions, they also published a proposed set of rule changes aimed at enhancing advisor and dealer obligations toward their clients (Client Focused Reforms). These Client Focused Reforms will no doubt significantly impact the economics of advisors’ business models and how they address key issues such as KYC, KYP, suitability and conflicts of interest, all of which we discussed in a previous article.

 

An area of particular interest and concern to many of our clients, however, were the proposed rule changes dealing with referral arrangements. Many advisors have arrangements with third parties either as a means of client acquisition or to provide their clients with services that they are not authorized to perform. For example, it’s very common for an MFDA advisor to have an arrangement with another professional services firm (i.e. an accounting firm) for purposes of client acquisition. They may also have arrangements with either an investment counsel or brokerage firm for certain high net worth clients who want either products or services that the MFDA advisor is not licensed to provide. The Client Focused Reforms will impact each of these relationships. 

 

The Big Picture: Regulators are proposing major changes to rules governing how financial advisors and dealers deal with referral arrangements. Referral arrangements will be permitted but only if advisors comply with specific requirements.

 

Here are five key takeaways from the CSA’s proposals:

 

1. A Referral Fee must not:

  • Continue for longer than 36 months;
  • Constitute a series of payments that together exceed 25% of the fees or commissions collected from the client;
  • Increase the amount of fees or commissions that a client would otherwise pay for the same product or service.

2. Advisors cannot pay a Referral Fee unless:

  • The recipient of the fee is a registered individual or firm;
  • The terms of the referral arrangement have been set out in writing between the registered firm (i.e. dealer) and the other party. The advisor may (but need not) be a party to the agreement.
  • The dealer keeps a record of all referral fees; and
  • The client receives in writing and understands the terms of the referral agreement.

3. The definition of what constitutes a referral arrangement goes beyond that of providing financial products and services. It also includes client names and information.

 

4. The regulators view all referral arrangements as a conflict of interest that must be resolved in favor of the client.


5. The rules governing referral relationships will come into effect immediately once the Client Focused Reforms come into force. Advisors will have 3 years to bring pre-existing arrangements into conformity.

 

Why This Matters: The proposed new requirements will significantly increase the risk, cost and administrative complexity of referral arrangements for both advisors and dealers. They will certainly alter how advisors process, administer, and evaluate any current and future referral relationship.

 

Check out Part 2 of our article to learn more about what you can do to get ahead of these changes to ensure that your referral arrangements comply with regulatory requirements.

 

Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

Afsar Shah, BA, LLB.

Business & Regulatory Coach

 

Get in touch

 

LinkedIn  Email

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Referral Arrangements

Referral Arrangement Rules (Part 2): Take Action Now


 

In part one of our Referral Arrangement article, we discussed what advisors need to know about the regulatory changes regarding their referral arrangements. In this article, we will discuss what to do about these upcoming changes. 

 

Why This Matters: The proposed new requirements will significantly increase the risk, cost and administrative complexity of referral arrangements for both advisors and dealers. They will certainly alter how advisors process, administer, and evaluate any current and future referral relationship given that:

  • Advisors will need to obtain dealer consent prior to entering into any referral arrangement;
  • Advisors will need to demonstrate in writing that a referral arrangement is in the client’s best interest;
  • The economic benefits to an advisor of a referral arrangement may no longer justify the additional administrative costs, requirements and risk;
  • Certain book acquisitions may be deemed a ‘referral relationship’ unless properly structured and documented;
  • Any violation of the proposed new rules can result in serious financial penalties.

The Bottom Line: All advisors should review their current (and future) referral relationships to make sure they align with the proposed new requirements and still make economic sense. Here are the impacts of the CSA’s proposals as they relate to referral relationships:

  • There will be increased and on-going regulatory scrutiny around referral relationships, particularly with respect to fees, duration, the client interest and disclosure;
  • Referral arrangements will still be permitted but only if certain requirements are met;
  • The fees associated with a referral arrangement will be capped and the duration limited;
  • All permitted referral arrangements will have to be documented in writing, approved of by your dealer, and disclosed in writing to your client;
  • The proposed changes will likely reduce the economic value of all referral arrangements.

Take Action: Advisors have a window of opportunity to get ahead of these changes and ensure that their referral arrangements comply with regulatory requirements. Here are a few suggestions as to what your action plan should include:

 

1. Education & Training – learn more about the proposed rules and how they might affect your business model. Understanding the new requirements is key if you wish to continue to enter into these kinds of relationships and keep regulators and compliance at bay.


2. Identify Your Existing Referral Arrangements – create an inventory of all the referral arrangements that you currently have in place.


3. Conduct an Assessment – do your existing referral arrangements comply with the proposed new requirements? Do the fees fit the new criteria? Did you document the terms of each referral arrangement in writing? Do you have a written record of all fees paid or collected? Did you document that your client understood the terms of the referral arrangement and that it was in their best interest?

 

4. Re-evaluateTheir Economic Value – do each of your referral arrangements still make economic sense given the increased costs and risk?

 

5. Talk to Your Dealer – start working with your Dealer to bring your referral arrangements into conformity with the proposed new changes. What will they be looking for from you?

 

6. Review your Process for Future Referral Arrangements – make sure you have a playbook in place that ensures your future referral arrangements comply with the new requirements and make economic sense.

 

The Personal Coach Can Help: To learn more about the CSA proposed policy changes and to help you develop your readiness game plan, contact The Personal Coach. Our extraordinary team of coaches and consultants has extensive experience working with advisors to develop customized strategies and plans to help you drive results and reach your strategic and financial objectives. Happy planning!

 

Afsar Shah, BA, LLB.

Business & Regulatory Coach

 

Get in touch

 

LinkedIn  Email

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