Updated Wednesday, July 23, 2014 as of 5:53 AM ET
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Better Assistants Make Better Advisors
Thursday, October 25, 2012
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In early October independent broker-dealer, Securities America, hosted a two-day workshop dedicated to training, education and networking for advisors’ support staff. The keynote address from advisor social media expert Matthew Halloran offered a prime example of how a better informed assistant can help an advisor improve his practice.

Also see 4 Ways Advisors Can Help Improve Staff Productivity.

“I teach that social media is not the most important use of an advisor’s time,” Halloran said in a phone interview. “It needs to be directed by the advisor, but not necessarily executed by the advisor.”

Which means the assistants must understand what to communicate via the social channels and the compliance regulations that govern them. Halloran said the three most important takeaways for assistants from his social media session were to read Securities America’s well-defined compliance guidelines, build a Facebook business page for their firm and build a Facebook advertising campaign for upcoming client events. In the session he taught attendees how to this by building a mock event campaign.

Beyond social media, other Assistant University sessions were divided into three tracks, one emerging and two experienced tracks, and covered topics including basic industry terminology, new compliance rules, Securities America technology and a range of practice management processes.

From understanding technology tools to understanding the goals of the business and bringing new ideas to the table, “It’s about helping advisor assistants become the ideal assistant,” said Kirk Hulett, Securities America executive vice president for strategy and practice management.

Given the various roles that an advisor’s support staff takes on, one attendee, Julie Chadwick Director of Operations for EFS Group Wealth Management, said, “It’s about being the best at what you do.”

She’s attended every year for the past five years and says there is always something new to learn. Aside from networking with other support staff and getting to know personally some of the Securities America consultants her firm works with, Chadwick said her favorite event is the best practices class. After a panel of assistants share their firm’s best practices these panels are opened up to questions. Through hearing about other firms’ problems and solutions, she said, you can find solutions to your own issues.

And in fact, according to Marc Geels, a wealth manager with EFS Group and an advisor that Chadwick supports, the most important aspect of Assistant University is what assistants can learn about beyond their own firm’s practices. “The biggest thing for assistants is that it gives assistants the opportunity to see the big picture,” he said.

With strong engagement from attendees, Hulett said it’s gratifying to be a part of Assistant University. “We really do believe that these assistants can go back and take a couple of minutes or a couple of hours of work off the advisors desk,” he said.

Geels summed up the purpose of the workshop well. “It’s about how assistants can help advisors be better advisors and how Assistant University can help assistants be better assistants,” he said.

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