Many advisers today are simply getting through each day in default mode.
They probably have enough success that they can keep doing what they’re doing, and they’ll be fine. Still, they may feel frustrated, because they know they could achieve more. They’re just unsure of what they need to do to get to that next level.
The question advisers should ask themselves, then, is: What is the best possible future I can envision for myself, my practice and my team? If they understand the answers and stick with the right plan, they should end up taking the right consistent actions.
The key? This three-part formula for success:
Clear Goals + Informed Focus + Effective Execution = Success
It sounds simple, but it takes effort and discipline to bring it to life. Let’s look at each of these steps, and what they entail.
There are three clear goals that should be the foundation of all advisers’ efforts:
1. Have a hugely positive impact on your clients. The best way to provide outstanding client service is to help clients maximize their chances of achieving their most important financial goals, beyond just investments.
Find and implement ways to help clients with needs that so often go unaddressed — such as estate planning services, charitable giving advice, and business and personal tax mitigation. Addressing these issues, especially through a team of specialists, will help you stand out.
2. Create tremendous economic value in your practice. When you deliver value, you earn a higher income. And by doing it consistently, you create sustainable increasing equity in your practice.
Systematize your new client acquisition process by building referral relationships with strategic alliance partners, including attorneys, CPAs and business consultants who work with the same types of clients you do.
If you have a process in place for generating a steady stream of pre-qualified, pre-endorsed ideal new clients, your practice will generate much more equity value than a firm that relies on word-of-mouth marketing or takes whichever clients they stumble across.
3. Enjoy a great quality of life. We don’t always appreciate this fact: We’re not in business only to get more business. Ultimately, we are in business to generate a great quality of life — for ourselves, but also for our families, our teams and, of course, our clients. And you need to build a great life for yourself first in order to bring greatness to others’ lives.
Action step: Advisers commonly block out time on their schedules for client meetings, during which they won’t accept phone calls or other interruptions. But they rarely do the same for other important tasks — from business planning to exercise. Make regular appointments with yourself; block out that time on your calendar and treat it as sacredly as you do the time you reserve for clients.
Armed with your goals, you can establish an informed focus. There are three key areas you should concentrate on here:
1. The existing client experience. You must fully understand current clients’ needs, maintain effective communication, improve their satisfaction and build stronger relationships. To accomplish all those tasks, them through a rediscovery meeting, in which you review their most important goals, needs, values and relationships. This tells clients you are actively engaged in making sure you’re up to date on who they are.
2. New client acquisition. Now it’s time to attract qualified prospective clients. One way to do so is to focus on serving a select niche market of affluent clients. This helps you create a value proposition that competitors find difficult to beat. Don’t forget to be thoughtful and deliberate. Determine exactly who your ideal clients should be — then focus on attracting them. Don’t worry about saying “no” to prospects who aren’t a great match.
3. Practice management. We find that practice management actions, such as joining mastermind groups of like-minded successful advisers and outsourcing non-core tasks, have the greatest impact on success and income. These are tasks aimed at increasing the efficiency of the business and retaining high-quality team members.
Focus and goals don’t mean much without targeted action. Here are a few of the most effective moves.
1. Gain a deep understanding of every prospect and client. You need a formal discovery process. To begin, there are seven things about your clients that, taken together, give you a total profile.
- Values: What’s important to the client about money and wealth.
- Goals: What the client wants to do for their children, parents or the world at large, and what they want their wealth to help them achieve.
- Relationships: The people who are most important to the client, from family members, to coworkers, to people in their communities and religious circles.
- Assets: Basics including sources of income, how clients save and invest, their investment holdings and tax situation, and how these things might change in the coming years.
- Advisers: Any other financial-services professionals they work with — lawyers, life insurance agents, other advisers or planners — and how they feel about those relationships.
- Process: How active a role a client would like to take in managing their wealth, and how they prefer to be contacted by advisers.
- Interests: From hobbies and weekend pursuits, to favorite causes and charities.
This process of discovery will help clients and prospects connect with you right from the start.
2. Regularly communicate clients’ key issues and concerns. When you have regular and meaningful interactions with your clients, they’ll be much more inclined to give you more assets to manage.
- Be personal. Pick up the phone or send a personal email. Use your smartphone to record and send a quick video greeting to clients on their birthdays. When you see a magazine or newspaper article you know would be of interest to a client, send it along.
- Be systematic. According to our research, affluent clients prefer, on average, 28 contacts per year from their advisers. That frequency of contact will not happen by chance, so leverage your CRM technology to prompt regular contact.
- Be interested in their lives. Affluent clients don’t want you to see them as simply a balance sheet. Talk with them about topics including family issues, sports, hobbies and current events. These types of conversations will build personal relationships that help them generate more trust in you.
3. Serve fewer — but ideal — clients. Too many advisers spread themselves too thin by trying to work with every investor they meet. But the key to earning more by serving less is to focus on a small number of ideal, highly profitable clients.
Meanwhile, clients are better-served and enjoy a closer relationship with you.
There are plenty of actions you could take to pursue your goals and boost your success. But to maximize your probability of success, you need a framework to clarify your goals, give you the laser focus on what actions really matter and motivate you.
Arm yourself with the tools that will truly close the gap between the reality of who you are today and the vision you have of your future success.
You can find additional insights in the author's free webinar on the formula for success. Registration required: www.cegworldwide.com/webinars-fp