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.

10Jul

Every quarter, we are highlighting Ameriprise leaders who are working hard for the financial advisors of Dynamic Directions. First up is Brian Mora, an Ameriprise Field Vice President in Jacksonville, FL. Brian has been with Ameriprise for 14 years, earning the Ameriprise Outstanding Leader Award in 2013 and 2014, his CFP® certification in 2007 and being nominated for the Ameriprise Community Impact Award in 2013.

What’s your philosophy of leadership?
My leadership philosophy is “meet advisors where they are.” What I mean by this is that I don’t attempt to coach or lead advisors in a cookie-cutter way where everyone gets the same advice, resources or support at the exact same time. I try to assess what an advisor truly needs at that time and align my support around that need.

What resources do you have that advisors can use?
I think the single most valuable resource I provide to advisors is the talented human capital that is my Leadership Team. The areas of expertise that they possess combined with the sincere care and desire to help advisors grow their business is truly the difference maker for myself and my team in helping our advisors versus others in the industry.

What’s one piece of advice you can give advisors?
I think the most important piece of advice I can share with advisors is to ensure they know that their future success is largely dependent not upon their own individual excellence but based upon how strong of a team they build and how well they lead that team. Developing their leadership skills should be priority #1 into the future.

How have you seen D2 help advisors?
I’ve seen D2 help advisors in multiple ways, but the three biggest items I’ve seen them have an impact with are (a) advisors developing an exceptional menu of services and world-class client service model, (b) implementing a practical marketing plan that has led to major growth rates and (c) arming advisors with the leadership skills they need to build and lead a great team.

Why do you think coaching is helpful for advisors?
I think every advisor can benefit from coaching because it is very difficult for any one person to perfectly determine on their own: (1) the priority order of their goals, (2) the tactics needed to achieve their goals, (3) the methods for tracking those goals and (4) how to hold themselves and other accountable. Moreover, it’s often hard to anticipate ALL of the challenges and problems that might occur and/or how to get things back on track when one of those challenges presents themselves. I think the single biggest value coaching provides is the unbiased, unemotional third-party opinion (often times second opinion) on how to achieve a particular goal and/or solve a particular problem.

What makes you different than other leaders?
I think the thing that makes me different than other leaders is my commitment and my team’s commitment to follow through. It should be table stakes to be a leader but far too often leaders make commitments and don’t follow through. I pride myself on the systems I utilize to ensure that we follow through on each commitment we make to an advisor.

What are some of your interests outside work?
I’m interested in a number of things outside of work but my primary interests are spending time with my family (my sons Greyson (3.5) and Sterling (8 months) are occupying the majority of my time these days). I’m an incredibly active person with my two biggest passions being triathlons and yoga.

What else do you want advisors to know about you?
I would want advisors to remember to keep the focus on the big picture. Oftentimes, given the incredible amount of change we face in the industry, advisors will get emotionally off-track and forget that they get to make an exceptional living doing something truly noble while building relationships with hundreds of families who have entrusted them with their most important financial goals. That’s a pretty special club to be in.

Thanks, Brian, for everything you do. You can find out more about Brian here, or reach him at 606-335-8844 or brian.j.mora@ampf.com.

22Jun

In our last post, we looked at the traditional approach to marketing events and why it just doesn’t work. This week, we’re taking at look at the kinds of events that actually produce results …

HOLD EVENTS YOU WILL ENJOY

Most advisors view marketing as a necessary evil as opposed to an opportunity to enjoy themselves, show their clients a good time and funnel the right prospects to events for eventual client conversion. As you saw in the Traditional Client Appreciation Event, the extra work involved, little or no promotion on a one-on-one basis with clients, inviting the wrong clients, investing several thousand dollars with little or no return, and not developing a well thought-out game plan all led to a disastrous outcome. Your marketing does not have to be this painful.

When you put on an event that excites you, you will be willing to take the extra time in a review meeting with one of clients to personally invite them.Your enthusiasm prior to and at the event will be contagious to all those you touch. You will create an event checklist and timeline to guide your team to achieve a successful experience. Your guest speakers will be in harmony with the messages you want to send to your audience. You can simultaneously experience a great time and get results.

The Traditional Client Appreciation Event described above shows you (the advisor) sweating every detail and micro-managing the entire project, but you should not be involved with the details of the event – you should hand all those details over to one of your team members. If you don’t have a team, hire an event planner to manage all of the particulars. Develop check points for each event so you can touch base with whomever is managing the specifics of the project for you. In other words, do not micromanage the event. Use your time to focus your strengths on client relationships to boost attendance.

WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS SHOULD YOU HOLD?

If you don’t like playing golf, don’t waste any effort on planning a golf outing. Choose and plan outings based on experiences you would attend and enjoy. Consider conducting two large inclusive events per year and as many small exclusive events as you need to meet your revenue and client acquisition goals. The large inclusive events should have universal appeal for your Top-Shelf and Mid-Shelf Client base. These events are also an effective avenue to invite your Top-Shelf Prospects. Because you are trying to appeal to a larger number of clients, the larger events need to carry a broad base of attraction.

For your smaller events, you want to produce first-class exclusive offerings that limit the number of clients and guests who can attend. By limiting the number of participants, you are creating urgency for your clients to reserve their spot as soon as possible. These small venues are most effective when you create an event that appears private and difficult to get into unless clients or guests have an exclusive connection. With planning and effort, you can create marketing events that you enjoy and that bring spectacular results.

Contact Dynamic Directions for a more detailed strategy on how to make this kind of marketing work for you!