What do women advisors want? At last week's Raymond James Women's Symposium, almost 300 female advisors from Raymond James' Private Client Group -- the organization that houses both Raymond James Financial Services and Raymond James & Associates -- got a mix of planning tips, technology tricks, strategic advice and female empowerment.
Here are a few of the smartest things we heard at the three-day event in in St. Petersburg, Fla.
1. Consider teaming up. After advisor Kay Feagles told the audience at a succession planning session that she thought the sole advisor model was dead, Raymond James Financial Services CEO Scott Curtis followed up: "I don't think it's dead, but I think it's significantly harder. Your practice will plateau. A single person with a single assistant is still fine -- but the [advisor] knows the business has plateaued."
2. Ask tough questions about late retirement. The MIT AgeLab, which focuses on increasing longevity, has generated three key questions to ask clients about the way they want to spend their later years, said Frank McAleer, director of retirement solutions at Raymond James. To understand how independent they plan to be, ask: Who's going to change your light bulbs? To drill down into issues like freedom and transportation, ask: How will you get an ice cream cone? And to understand the kind of social connections they expect (or want) to have, ask: Who will you have lunch with? Those social connections are key, added Cincinnati RJFS advisor Sheri Lucas. "Sometimes family members are great, sometimes they're not," she said. "I have a client who moved from Cincinnati to Florida to be near her immediate family -- and she's very unhappy, because she doesn't know anybody."
3. Create a succession plan prenup. "Get it in writing," said Mary Brooks, a Raymond James & Associates advisor in Walnut Creek, Calif. Brooks said she's had five expected succession plan relationships that didn't work out -- and that in some cases, having an agreement that spelled out the breakup plans in advance made the actual split easier. "This process will be like other processes -- there will be adversity," she added. "But as quickly as you can, just move on."
4. Use a seating chart for client events. Credibility comes from the endorsement of others, says Suzette Rothberg, a senior VP for advisor education with American Funds Distributors -- so at your next client event, use a strategic seating chart to locate prospects next to some of your biggest fans.
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5. Know your clients. Laura Steckler, a former psychotherapist turned Raymond James & Associates advisor in Coral Gables, Fla., says she only spends 10 to 15 minutes in the average hour and a half review meeting talking about clients' finances. The rest of the time, she says, is about catching up, learning what's going on in their lives. That connection matters, added Rothberg, who cited one funny statistic from the research of Russ Alan Prince: Advisors who can name their clients' family dogs have twice the assets under management.
6. Focus on your own well-being, too. Advisors need to make sure they're focusing on their own health and fitness, said Dave Patchen, the Raymond James Private Client Group's senior vice president for education and practice management. "When we hold advisor training, they come into the office for two weeks -- and we control the menu," Patchen said. "They eat less sugar, food that's more plant-based, more protein ... and they notice a huge difference," he said triumphantly.
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