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8 Ways for Financial Advisors to Break Through the Growth Barrier

1. Crisis = opportunity. 1. Crisis = opportunity.

1. Crisis = opportunity.


Inevitably, a young firm will experience some sort of upheaval: A partner may leave unexpectedly, or the firm may lose a key client. Such a crisis can force a firm’s leadership to confront fundamental questions such as why growth is stalled. “A crisis forces me to confront the way I’m running the business,” says Slater. Handled constructively, a crisis can spur an honest evaluation of what your firm must do to reach the next level.

2. Crystallize your value proposition. 2. Crystallize your value proposition.

2. Crystallize your value proposition.


Don’t just tell prospects about your skills and certifications. Make it crystal clear that you understand their challenges and have the expertise and experience to help them. “Advisors have great messages to communicate,” says Sweeny, “and communicating those messages effectively is critical for success.”

3. Reassign small clients. 3. Reassign small clients.

3. Reassign small clients.


Those smaller-account clients might have helped get your firm off the ground. But the advice model is often a better fit for your wealthier clients. Principals shouldn’t soak up time serving smaller clients who don’t need a high level of attention. Delegate this work to more junior staff. Remember the rule of thumb -- 20% of your clients can drive 80% of your profitability.

4. Narrow your "ideal" client profile. 4. Narrow your "ideal" client profile.

4. Narrow your "ideal" client profile.


Focusing on a “type" -- say, business owners within five years of a liquidity event -- can help you grow in multiple ways. First, you can focus your marketing efforts. Secondly, your firm will be able to more efficiently serve clients that are in your wheelhouse -- your people won’t have to figure out how to handle widely varying client types. And it never hurts if your firm can become known as the go-to guys for a particular category of prospect.

5. Forget about asset management. 5. Forget about asset management.

5. Forget about asset management.


Many advisors believe investment returns are an important differentiator. Not so much, according to Slater. Clients choose advisors based more on factors like trust and receiving good advice, he says, “as long as you’re within a comparable (performance) range and reasonably consistent.” Instead of do-it-yourself investment management, think about using model portfolios. And use the time windfall on business development.

6. Allocate resources wisely. 6. Allocate resources wisely.

6. Allocate resources wisely.


Advisors who believe they don’t have enough time for business development must allocate their time better. Senior talent should focus more on client-facing tasks --less on operations -- such as meeting with existing clients or recruiting new ones. Tasks like daily reconciliation and producing quarterly reports are time-eaters and should be outsourced. Advisory firms flounder when they “try to accomplish too many tasks themselves,” says Patrick Sweeny, a founding partner of Symmetry Partners, LLC, a turnkey asset management provider in Glastonbury, Conn.

7. Invest time in business development. 7. Invest time in business development.

7. Invest time in business development.


A firm’s principal should spend a full quarter of his or her time talking with prospects, communicating with centers of influence, or just thinking about how to grow the business, says Slater. If you don’t invest the time, the growth won’t happen.

8. Figure out why you want to grow. 8. Figure out why you want to grow.

8. Figure out why you want to grow.


Do you want more profit? Looking to ensure the firm’s survival over multiple generations? Does having lofty goals just plain excite you? Having a clear rationale can help keep you motivated. “You’d be surprised how many advisors haven’t really given that much thought,” says Scott Slater, managing director, business consulting for Schwab Advisor Services.

8 Ways for Financial Advisors to Break Through the Growth Barrier 8 Ways for Financial Advisors to Break Through the Growth Barrier

8 Ways for Financial Advisors to Break Through the Growth Barrier


Breaking through the growth barrier is a concept that's all too familiar to most advisory firms at one point or another in their development. The principals have founded the business, then scratched and clawed to get it to the point of viability. But at some point, even though the firm may have gathered a respectable amount of assets, the growth just seems to plateau. Many advisors aren’t quite sure why it happens, but experts say the keys to pushing through and increasing sales and assets under management begin with setting clear priorities and sharpening your focus.<.br>

Here are eight tips to help push your firm over and through the growth barrier:

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