“Prevailing headwinds” challenge financial advisors these days, but there are some tactics that can substantially boost productivity.

That’s the message from the LIMRA-McKinsey Experienced Financial Advisor Study, just published after online surveys and phone interviews with nearly 2,000 financial advisors in 2012.

A hypothetical advisor grossing $200,000 a year could potentially increase annual production by more than 30% by adopting these best practices.

1. Teaming

According to the study, one in five advisors regularly partners with other financial advisors for specialized needs, sharing more than 20% of their revenue. The percentage of advisors teaming with others has increased by eight percentage points since 2008.

The hypothetical advisor grossing $200,000 could add $30,000 of production by being a team player, the study found. This includes referring clients with particular concerns to other professionals; conducting joint fieldwork; or practicing within a formal sales team that shares clients, revenue, expenses and support.

“Regularly partnering with other advisors means working with peers,” Patrick Leary, assistant vice president, LIMRA distribution research, told Financial Planning. “Sometimes the peers might have a certain specialty or focus that complements each other’s practices. For example, an advisor might specialize in mature market needs.” Leary also mentioned teaming up with advisors experienced in helping families with special needs children.

2. Client Specialization

Targeting specific client segments could increase production by $28,000, for a $200,000 producer. The survey found that 43% of advisors specialized in a client segment, typically by affluence or occupation.“Examples of client specialization include advisors who target the affluent market, or perhaps the senior market,” Leary said. “Some advisors might target certain professions, such as teachers or doctors.”

While those two steps are likely to have the biggest payoff, the study has two other suggestions for fostering growth.

3. Retirement Plans

Most advisors have not provided their pre-retiree clients with formal retirement plans, according to the study. Nevertheless, those who do deliver such a plan are 15% more productive. Creating retirement plans for an additional 30% of an advisor’s clients could add $9,600 to a $200,000 advisor’s production.

4. Remembering Key Events

The study found that increasing awareness of life milestones correlates to higher productivity. Knowing when clients get married, buy a home, change jobs, etc., could boost a $200,000 advisor’s production by $7,333.

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