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30 Ways to Improve Your Practice

30 Ways to Improve Your Practice 30 Ways to Improve Your Practice

Last month, FP Magazine reached out to advisors across the nation in search of tips for building a better advisory practice. In case you missed it, here is a compilation of the 30 tips we featured.

You can also read all 30 tips in detail here.

Tip #1: Improve your Time Management. – Matt Halloran, Top Advisor Coaching Tip #1: Improve your Time Management. – Matt Halloran, Top Advisor Coaching

Time blocking is one of the best and easiest ways advisors can improve productivity (and their quality of life), says Halloran. “If you are constantly interrupted by email, the phone or staff, you will never produce high quality work,” he said. Instead, he says, advisors should allocate 15 minutes at a time, three times a day, to check and respond to email and voicemail.
Read more HERE

Tip #2: Fix your Contact List. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite Tip #2: Fix your Contact List. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite

Regular client communication is an important element of an advisor’s practice. You (and your staff) spend time preparing client communications and sending out emails, but what if they aren’t even going through? Update your e-mail list.
Read more HERE

Tip #3: Upgrade your To-Do List. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise Tip #3: Upgrade your To-Do List. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise

Before worrying about how many things you need to handle each day, first eliminate the things you don’t need to do, says Ray Sclafani, founder of advisor coaching firm ClientWise. The resulting notes will eliminate the things you don’t need to do to carve out the list of the day’s essential items.
Read more HERE

Tip #4: Create Document Templates. – Bob Veres, Inside Information Tip #4: Create Document Templates. – Bob Veres, Inside Information

Clear communications are vital to your client relationships. But repeatedly explaining the same complex topics can be time-consuming -- and allows room for error. To avoid harming relationships or wasting time, advisors should develop a “business correspondence template” says Veres.
Read more HERE

Tip #5: Make Time for Networking. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #5: Make Time for Networking. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

If you want to grow your practice, you need to get your lead generation efforts in shape. That means making time for networking.
Read more HERE

Tip #6: Make Five Phone Calls Today. – Michael Silver and Eric Sheikowitz, Focus Partners Tip #6: Make Five Phone Calls Today. – Michael Silver and Eric Sheikowitz, Focus Partners

You may already have a number of people in mind that you’ve been meaning to connect with. If so, you know who to call and what to ask for. Keep your pipeline of potential new businesses open.
Read more HERE

Tip #7: Write Thank-You Notes. – Chris Kirby, Securities America Tip #7: Write Thank-You Notes. – Chris Kirby, Securities America

Automate your thank-you process: Have your staff prepare two complete handwritten notes each week, Kirby says, and use them to thank someone who is valuable to your practice. “When you put your thank-you system on autopilot, you’ll be amazed at how much the ‘thank yous’ come back to you and your team.”
Read more HERE

Tip #8: Re-learn How to Ask for Referrals. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise Tip #8: Re-learn How to Ask for Referrals. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise

To avoid stunting future growth, Sclafani says it’s important to make a concerted effort to break free. That might mean , relearning how to ask for client referrals or scheduling time every week to network.
Read more HERE

Tip #9: Schedule a Late Night. – Michael Silver and Eric Sheikowitz, Focus Partners Tip #9: Schedule a Late Night. – Michael Silver and Eric Sheikowitz, Focus Partners

Designate the occasional evening to work beyond your normal hours. “Use this time to get your office and practice better organized,” Silver says.
Read more HERE

Tip #10: Find a Partner. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #10: Find a Partner. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

Advisors should have at least one alliance with a certified public accountant, says Mike Greene, senior vice president of Advisor Business Development Group and Financial Planning for Ameriprise Financial. “You just can’t serve clients well if you don’t have the setup,” Greene says. “Find CPAs that have mutual expectations and accountability baked in.”
Read more HERE

Tip #11: Fix your Elevator Pitch. – Chris Kirby, Securities America Tip #11: Fix your Elevator Pitch. – Chris Kirby, Securities America

Once advisors clearly define the true value of their service, they should incorporate that statement seamlessly into their daily lives, building a consistent “brand” for themselves and their businesses, Kirby says.
Read more HERE

Tip #12: Improve your Bottom Line. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #12: Improve your Bottom Line. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

“Spend a day understanding what your real costs are,” says Mike Greene, senior vice president of the Advisor Business Development Group and Financial Planning for Ameriprise Financial Services. “Most practitioners built their practices on their own, and kept their costs on their own,” he says.
Read more HERE

Tip #13: Segment your Client Base. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #13: Segment your Client Base. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

Should you give all of your clients the exact same level of service? Even if you wanted to, would it be best for your practice? Instead, consider segmenting your client base. “Advisors talk about it, but very few actually do it,” says Mike Greene, senior vice president of the Advisor Business Development Group and Financial Planning for Ameriprise Financial Services.
Read more HERE

Tip #14: Get Better Client Feedback. – Stephen Wershing, Client Driven Practice Tip #14: Get Better Client Feedback. – Stephen Wershing, Client Driven Practice

You can’t please all of the people all of the time -- but you do need to find out exactly what your clients do want. Consider asking new open-ended questions at end of meetings, or holding a client advisory board meeting to get this feedback.
Read more HERE

Tip #15: Improve, Customize your Technology. – Jo Day, Trumpet Tip #15: Improve, Customize your Technology. – Jo Day, Trumpet

First, figure out exactly what you need the software to be able to do. Then when you talk to the software company, ask them to show you and your staff how the software will help address those specific office challenges.
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Tip #16: Delegate Responsibility. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #16: Delegate Responsibility. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

Giving up control can be difficult. Advisors should understand that they aren’t the only people who can help develop a strategy for their clients, says Greene. Consider outsourcing parts of the financial planning process to an outside vendor or delegating them to someone in the office. This will increase your efficiency and allow you to focus on other important tasks.
Read more HERE

Tip #17: Tackle your Succession Plan. – Michael Paley, Focus Financial Partners Tip #17: Tackle your Succession Plan. – Michael Paley, Focus Financial Partners

Get started today by asking yourself some difficult questions: How is the business prepared to serve clients if something happens to me? How would the staff be affected? How about my family?
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Tip #18: Focus on the Big Picture. – Ray Sclafani, Clientwise Tip #18: Focus on the Big Picture. – Ray Sclafani, Clientwise

It’s easy to get stuck on autopilot and lose sight of the bigger picture, but if you can reconnect with what you do and why you do it, you will be serving yourself, your practice and your clients. “Reflecting on your purpose keeps you motivated and protects against distractions,” Sclafani says.
Read more HERE

Tip #19: Get a Better Website. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite Tip #19: Get a Better Website. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite

“A great website helps establish your personal brand and differentiates you from the competition,” says Craig Faulkner, chief executive officer of FMG Suite, a financial marketing firm.
Read more HERE

Tip #20: Take Your Message Mobile. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite Tip #20: Take Your Message Mobile. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite

Advisors should load their smartphones or tablets with brief, interesting graphics and visuals that illustrate investment concepts or other ideas so they can be shared on the go, Faulkner says. “The days of seminars in a conference room are mostly behind us,” he says. “Advisors need to be ready to quickly show prospects and clients the concepts they want to teach in any setting.”
Read more HERE

Tip #21: Develop a Steady Communication Plan. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services Tip #21: Develop a Steady Communication Plan. – Mike Greene, Ameriprise Financial Services

As busy as you are, you know keeping in touch with clients -- on a regular and timely basis -- is crucial. Whether you're facing market swings or macro issues, if you aren’t in front of your clients with information, they’re probably on their way to you with questions.
Read more HERE

Tip #22: Build Alliances to Expand your Practice. – Marie Swift, Impact Communications Tip #22: Build Alliances to Expand your Practice. – Marie Swift, Impact Communications

Being visible and focusing on others can help create a caring face for your business and provide opportunities for conversations with new clients, Swift says. “Co-hosting events and positioning yourself as a local business booster gives you reasons to send out invitations and news releases, generate email and social media campaigns, and contact new strategic partners.”
Read more HERE

Tip #23: Create a Social Media Schedule. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite Tip #23: Create a Social Media Schedule. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite

Advisors need to use social media tools to effectively engage clients and prospects through that medium. “Set up a social media marketing program and stick to it,” says Craig Faulkner, chief executive officer of digital marketing firm FMG Suite.
Read more HERE

Tip #24: Embrace Video Marketing. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite Tip #24: Embrace Video Marketing. – Craig Faulkner, FMG Suite

“We live in a video age,” says Craig Faulkner, chief executive officer of digital marketing firm FMG Suite. “Your web and social sites need some great footage of you, introducing yourself, discussing your business philosophy and talking about financial concepts.”
Read more HERE

Tip #25: Attract more female clients. – Bruce Harrington, John Hancock Financial Network Tip #25: Attract more female clients. – Bruce Harrington, John Hancock Financial Network

Many financial advisors tend to engage the husband and ignore the wife when working with a couple, says Bruce Harrington, vice president of sales and business development for John Hancock Financial Network, but this can be a very costly mistake.
Read more HERE

Tip #26: Educate clients about investing. – Laura Kogen, Fidelity Investments Tip #26: Educate clients about investing. – Laura Kogen, Fidelity Investments

It’s not enough to educate your clients about the products you include in their portfolios. Clients need understand what you’re leaving out.
Read more HERE

Tip #27: Have a team meeting. – Michael Silver, Focus Partners Tip #27: Have a team meeting. – Michael Silver, Focus Partners

A good old-fashioned meeting can help prevent errors that stem from miscommunication.
Read more HERE

Tip #28: Fix your interview process. – Ron Carson, Peak Advisor Alliance Tip #28: Fix your interview process. – Ron Carson, Peak Advisor Alliance

To improve the interview process, advisors should ask candidates for a writing sample and integrate standardized intelligence and personality tests like Wonderlich and DISC, Carson says.
Read more HERE

Tip #29: Give clients an upgrade. – Chris Kirby, Securities America Financial Corp. Tip #29: Give clients an upgrade. – Chris Kirby, Securities America Financial Corp.

While your firm’s operational systems add capacity, it’s your client-facing systems -- the ways you handle referrals or onboard new business, or even the overall design of your client experience – that help you add more value to your practice.
Read more HERE

Tip #30: Learn from your mistakes. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise Tip #30: Learn from your mistakes. – Ray Sclafani, ClientWise

“If you have reflected, learned from it and then applied what you’ve learned, then you have wisdom,” Sclafani says. And if you keep repeating this process, you’ll have success, he says: “Being honest about the cause of your failure is what separates those who learn from their failures from those who are doomed to repeat them.”
Read more HERE

How can you build a better advisory practice? Check out some tips from the experts.

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