09Jul

YOUR TOP SHELF CLIENTS DESERVE MORE

As financial advisors, we tend to treat all our clients the same. They come in periodically for meetings, we check in with them occasionally and we host a couple of events every year. Everyone gets this treatment, no matter how much or how little business they do with us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. All of your clients are not the same, so you should not treat them all the same. Plenty of other businesses have multiple levels of service – why not financial advisors?

If we’re honest with ourselves, part of the reason we don’t offer a higher level of service may be a self-limiting belief that tells us we’re not worth it. If we offer more – and charge more – won’t our clients leave for someone cheaper?

When it comes to price and the value you provide, it’s helpful to think of different levels as illustrated by
other industries. If you want Hershey’s chocolate, for example, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s very good. If you want Godiva, though, you know you’re going to pay a premium because it’s a much more upscale chocolate in terms of both quality and packaging.

The Marriott Hotel brand is another great example of offering various levels of service. Marriott actually includes more than 30 hotel brands, all designed for specific types of travelers. The company has been very successful offering the right value at the right price to their customers.

Let’s look at three separate levels among their offerings – low-value, mid-tier staple and highest-end – to learn from what they do and see how we can apply that learning to the financial industry.

Fairfield Inn
Fairfield Inn is Marriott’s low-price, high-volume value offering. The chain includes 950 locations worldwide. Their average price is $100/night. It only takes seven or eight employees to operate a Fairfield Inn because it runs under a simple model that’s very efficient. They just need employees to clean and turn over rooms and someone to run the front desk (the same person also sets out the simple free breakfast each morning). Fairfield operates at a low-price, low- effort, low-service level.

Marriott
The Marriott brand is the staple offering of the Marriott stable. There are about 555 locations around the world, with the average price at least double that of Fairfield. Each hotel requires many more employees because the hotel offers room service, a restaurant and bar on-site, large meeting rooms, ballrooms for events and much more. The hotel rooms are nicer as well. The amenities are much better, so the value is higher and the price is also higher to reflect the better value customers are receiving.

Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton is Marriott’s highest-end offering, with maximum value and price. There are only 96 of them worldwide. The price is double or more the average Marriott price. Almost as many people work at a Ritz as stay at a Ritz because amenities include everything you can think of and then more. In fact, guests spend almost as much on additional features such as food, massages, room service, etc. as they do on the room. You never have to leave a Ritz if you don’t want to!

Ritz-Carlton hotels offer the highest level of value for the highest price, but their service is only for a very small, select number of customers. This model works because they generate so much profit per customer – in fact, the Ritz is the most profitable of all the Marriott brands.

This is the first post in a two-part series on servicing clients. Stay tuned for the next installment later this month.

29May

This is the final installment of a three-part series on fantastic financial planning. 

Read parts one and two of our fantastic financial planning series.

POSITIONING FINANCIAL PLANNING WITH CLIENTS CAN BE EASY 
Simply ask them “What are you worried about?” or “What other things can we work on together?” Their answers can be the items you leverage to engage them in financial planning services or upgrade them to a higher level. If they do not have any answers, use the areas that are other people’s concerns, like retirement and taxes. Give examples of ways you have helped other clients (or you could be helping them) and share that they could benefit from the same things. Build up the value around the things they want help with. If you build up the value around what THEY want help with, the price will be irrelevant. You can easily use your menu of services to align the client to the appropriate price.

The best benefit for clients and your practice is to do ongoing financial planning incorporating an annual fee for your ongoing advice. Things constantly change in clients’ lives, the markets, tax laws, and estate laws. The instant you create a financial plan it is technically wrong and outdated. Things constantly change and the plan will never be 100% accurate. A plan is a snapshot in time with accompanying assumptions to act as a guide for financial planners to give better advice to clients and help clients make better decisions. Making clients aware of the constant change will help you align them to ongoing financial planning. Your menu of services can help you follow an ongoing service plan for your clients.

The most common barrier for financial advisors to deliver quality financial planning is the extra work involved. If you could have a multi-six figure lift in your practice would you figure out how to make it work? Top practices will often hire someone to help with a portion of the new profits, use an outsourcing service to complete financial planning documents and organize the advice or a combination of both. The end result is still profitable for business and better for the client!

17May

This is part two of a three-part series on fantastic financial planning. Stay tuned for the next installment next week. 

Read part one of our fantastic financial planning series.

PLAN A MENU OF SERVICES
A Menu of Services allows financial advisors to deliver an appropriate level of service for different clients at an appropriate price. When there is more value, there can be a higher price. Part of increasing value is helping with more areas, specifically the areas THE CLIENT wants the most help with. The areas that a financial advisor can help their clients with should be part of their menu of services. The best financial advisors include areas that Americans are looking for help with. Many financial advisors will start out with three levels of service. More advanced and larger practices have more. A great menu of services includes how the clients will get help, which can include the number of interactions and what they can expect.

PRICING IS A QUANDRY FOR MANY FINANCIAL ADVISORS
Some financial advisors choose to do financial planning and not charge for it. Would you trust your health with a doctor who was free? The value and quality would most likely be questionable. Once financial advisors break the barrier of charging for their advice, many struggle with appropriate pricing. Many will start by charging too little. They focus on if people will pay them instead of the value they will be delivering. According to the Financial Planning Association (FPA), the average financial planning fee in America is around $3,400 annually. Many top financial advisors derive their pricing from a percentage of assets or net worth a client has. Consider your largest client: what would 0.5% of their assets be? Some advisors will stagger the percentage of assets they charge from 0.25% to 2% depending on the size of client assets (smaller percentage for larger asset sizes and larger percentage for smaller asset sizes). Other advisors will charge a flat percentage fee for all of their clients. Some financial advisors will tie in a financial planning fee to asset management fees. A Barron’s Top 1,000 Financial Advisor says “when someone is paying you more for advice, you will want to deliver it to them.”

14May

What are the top financial concerns of American’s today? Ask them and you will hear retirement, taxes and health care as some of their top answers. Getting the best mutual fund selection, optimal portfolios that outperform their benchmarks and the best yield for risk and duration from a fixed income portfolio will not be the first things they say. Are you focused on helping people with the things THEY want help with? The financial industry has consumed itself with products and not helping clients with the things THEY want help with. Helping people with the things they want is what the elite of the financial industry call Financial Planning.

The term financial planning has been slung around so much that consumers do not know what it really means. Be careful how you use this term with people as it might not mean the same thing to them. The Certified Financial Planner Board describes financial planning as “the process of determining whether and how an individual can meet life goals through the proper management of financial resources. Financial planning integrates the financial planning six-step process and with the seven financial planning subject areas.”

MANY FINANCIAL ADVISORS THINK THEY DO FINANCIAL PLANNING
Many financial advisors say they do financial planning, but compared to the CFP boards’ six-step process and seven subject areas they are not even close. There are many online calculators for consumers that are informative, but not sufficient. Some financial advisors use tools that are of the same caliber. Leveraging the proper tools, process and all subject areas are imperative for a true financial planner to give clients what they need.

Many Americans have different needs. It can be difficult for a financial advisor to help different people with different things. Another complexity is that some people do not have as many things to work on as others. One way to conquer this is to take a lesson from successful hotel chains. The Marriott and Hilton corporations have different brands of hotels to serve different people. They have low-cost brands (like Fairfield Inn and Hampton Inn), their staple namesake brands and high-end brands (like Ritz Carlton and Waldorf Astoria). Top producing and highly rated financial advisors have built out different levels of service to accommodate their clients.

This is the first post of a three-part series on fantastic financial planning. Stay tuned for the next installment later this month.

06Mar

This is the final post in a three-part series on hiring the right financial advisors for your practice. 

Read parts one and two on how to hire the right financial advisor.

EXTENDING AN OFFER

When you are ready to make an offer, develop a package that is a win-win relationship. Don’t over-promise what you cannot deliver – set realistic expectations. Your package should clearly lay out compensation, benefits, hours expected, vacation time, roles and responsibilities and a potential career path. The candidate should understand exactly where you’re coming from and what you expect.

As with any relationship, if the agreement is not set up to benefit both parties, it will fall apart at some point, so it’s important to align your interests as you make an offer. You should also make sure you have educated the prospect on your industry so they know what to expect in that regard. Even if they have previously been a financial advisor, you should educate them on the differences of your broker-dealer.

Once they have accepted your offer, be ready to jump right into their training and development as you introduce them to their role in your practice.

As you can tell, hiring a new advisor is a process that takes time and includes many different components. For more guidance on how to find the right candidate for your office, schedule a complimentary consultation with Scott Leibfried, scott@dynamicdirections-d2.com.

18Feb

This is part two of a three-part series on hiring the right financial advisors for your practice. Stay tuned for the next installment later this month.

Read part one on how to hire the right financial advisor.

FINDING PROSPECTS

Once you have determined you need to hire an advisor, how do you find good prospects? We will list a few methods below, but don’t choose just one – implement them all to give yourself the best chance of finding the right person.

• LinkedIn/Social Media – post your job listing on both your company and personal profiles on all the social media platforms you use. You should also search through the profiles of people you are already connected to – you may find a potential candidate this way or someone who could refer a candidate to you.
• Build a relationship with the business department of a local college, especially if they have a financial planning emphasis. If you get to know the professors and department heads, they can steer prospects to you both for internships and for jobs after graduation.
• Pay a hiring service to find candidates for you. They typically charge a down payment and then another payment if you hire one of their candidates. This service can be helpful if you want to post the job on a site like Indeed; doing this yourself can suck away a lot of time as you screen resumes. A good service will do the screening and pre-qualifying for you so you only spend time with qualified candidates.
• Your own network of friends, family, clients and colleagues. Don’t keep it a secret that you’re hiring – in fact, let people know the kind of person you’re looking for so they can refer candidates directly to you.

A few notes to keep in mind as you are sourcing prospects:

• Keep an open mind as you look at prospects’ backgrounds. A business or finance degree is not a requirement for success as an advisor. In fact, many successful advisors have come from backgrounds such as liberal arts or teaching. This can give them a perspective others lack.
• Keep a mindset that the right time and right person may not line up for you – make this work to your advantage instead of making a mistake. For example, if you are ready to hire someone but can’t find a good candidate, don’t hire the wrong person. If, on the other hand, the right person crosses your path even if you aren’t quite ready to hire, don’t let timing become a mental roadblock for you. Be prepared to hire even if the timing isn’t ideal.
• Identify as much as you can the possibility of a candidate staying in your community long term. A hidden pitfall in hiring can be finding a person with the right makeup and skills, and devoting time and resources to them only to see them leave soon because they’re not tied to the community. One tip: candidates from smaller towns are more likely to stick around. For example, if your town has 70,000 people, a prospect from a town of 35,000 people is more likely to stay long-term than a cand date from a town of 200,000. If you are looking for someone to stay with you long-term, you can’t overemphasize the connection to the community.

THE INTERVIEW PROCESS

Once you have identified a qualified prospect, you should have a very well-defined interview process in place. Take your time during this phase – there’s no reason to rush. The process should involve multiple encounters, including both interviews and assessments (the Kolbe A Index and EQ-I assessments are good examples). Don’t place too much emphasis on any one component, but look at each candidate’s overall performance to get a clear picture of whether or not they will be a good fit for your practice.

One tip that can be valuable: put prospects in various settings to get a sense of how they handle themselves. In addition to your formal, one-on-one interview, think about taking them to breakfast, or out for a drink with the team or to play a round of golf. Get a sense of how they socialize so you get a better view of them as a whole person.

Make sure that if the candidate is remote, you bring them in for at least the last interview – you never want to hire without meeting the candidate in person at least once.

05Feb

The Financial Planning Association says that by the year 2028, our country will face a 200,000-person shortage of financial advisors. Demand will far outstrip supply both in terms of clients and practices which need to hire advisors to grow their business.

There are multiple reasons for this shortage – as wealth transitions from generation to generation, fewer people are becoming licensed than in the past. In today’s job market, there are so many different career paths people can take that traditional options such as becoming a financial advisor may be less desirable.

Given these factors, it can be difficult to find worthy candidates when you are ready to hire an advisor. Here are a few thoughts on how to go about hiring a financial advisor for your practice.

WHY HIRE?

Before you start the actual process of hiring, make sure you have a solid rationale in place for why you want to hire. One of the biggest reasons you may want to hire is because your business is ready to grow, and you want your practice to be in a position where it can scale to handle a larger client load. One individual advisor will have limited capacity on their own, but as you put a team of advisors together, you can scale your business exponentially.

If you are planning to buy practices and merge them with yours as a means of growth, you must first build the infrastructure necessary to service the businesses you may purchase. That means having skilled advisors already on your team who can help you handle the load of new clients that you may be facing.

A second good reason to hire a new advisor is to create a succession plan for your practice. You want your clients to have the assurance they will be well taken care of when you transition out of the business or into a different part of the business. This gives them long-term stability, which can be an important factor as people choose a financial advisor.

This is part one of a three-part series on hiring the right financial advisors for your practice. Stay tuned for the next installment later this month.

22Sep

Welcome to September’s Bullish on Business! After a current market update, we discuss how to Beat Your Competition as advisors. Just click below to play this month’s episode.

Principal Funds
Thanks to Principal Funds for sponsoring this month’s Bullish on Business episode! Make sure to watch the 3-minute video from Principal after the market update to gain some valuable insights. You may also download these resources from Principal (just click to see each one):

 

Bullish on Business is a video subscription series from Dynamic Directions providing on-demand expertise for financial advisors. More than 200 subscribers receive each monthly episode featuring a current market update along with an in-depth look at a specific topic such as Niche Marketing, Tax Savings Ideas, Investment Lineups and more.

Bullish on Business comes out the third week of each month. Join our subscriber list here to receive monthly market updates and recommendations, along with expert advice on the intricacies of running a modern financial office.

18Aug

Welcome to the new and improved Bullish on Business! As we strive to serve you better, we are moving to a pre-recorded format that will allow you to watch each episode at your convenience.

We plan to publish a video on the third week of each month (our normal webinar week). Each episode will still feature a market update from Investment Guru Drew Watson, along with a more in-depth look at a particular topic relevant to your practices.

August Episode
We start off with a market update before discussing recommendations on how to handle new asset allocation requirements in your practice. We then feature our semi-annual Investment Update, where Drew Watson helps you reset your investment lineup according to current market conditions.

Just click below to play this month’s Bullish on Business. A copy of the updated Investment Spreadsheet is also available for you to download below.

Mark your calendars for the next episode of Bullish on Business – it will be available the week of September 20!

Resources

Bullish on Business is a video subscription series from Dynamic Directions providing on-demand expertise for financial advisors. More than 200 subscribers receive each monthly episode featuring a current market update along with an in-depth look at a specific topic such as Niche Marketing, Tax Savings Ideas, Investment Lineups and more.

Bullish on Business comes out the third week of each month. Join our subscriber list here to receive monthly market updates and recommendations, along with expert advice on the intricacies of running a modern financial office.

26Jul

We usually take June and July off from the Bullish on Business webinar, but we produced a special July bonus episode to discuss new Asset Allocation requirements from your broker-dealer. We know many of you have concerns about how to implement the new requirements, along with questions about various investment vehicles.

To help you begin to get a handle on this topic, we asked our own D2 Investment Guru Drew Watson how his practice is adapting to the changes. He begins with a short market update before discussing his best practices.

We pre-recorded this episode so it would be available on-demand whenever you have a few minutes – just click here or below to watch!

Bullish on Business is a video subscription series from Dynamic Directions providing on-demand expertise for financial advisors. More than 200 subscribers receive each monthly episode featuring a current market update along with an in-depth look at a specific topic such as Niche Marketing, Tax Savings Ideas, Investment Lineups and more.

Bullish on Business comes out the third week of each month. Join our subscriber list here to receive monthly market updates and recommendations, along with expert advice on the intricacies of running a modern financial office.