Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Advisor Quick Tips

Advisor Quick Tips

Serving clients first with systematic process management

Strategic Financial Advisors Corporation employs a “serve clients first” philosophy in offering comprehensive approaches to financial planning, wealth management, and business consulting to individuals and businesses. This requires a dedication to process management in several areas:

  • A six-month timetable of specific milestones to achieve a final, agreed-upon financial road map covering detailed analysis, goals, and action steps.
  • Regular progress reviews on a schedule that meets client needs, usually every four months.
  • Periodic meetings with clients’ trusted third-party advisors such as insurance specialists, attorneys, and accountants.
  • Weekly internal workflow meetings to prioritize client tasks and proactive communications.

The importance of holistic financial planning for retirees

Retirement can be an intimidating prospect for many people, and the closer they get to their target date, the more concerned they are about the complexities of retirement planning. Tim Wells’ firm aims to address the many financial issues these clients face by employing a process called the True Wealth 360 Holistic Planning System. The advisor starts this process by developing a consultative relationship that explores a client’s values, beliefs, and life goals and addresses the following categories:

 

  • Foundation and estate planning.
  • Income and investment planning.
  • Insurance and legacy planning.

Connecting with millennials

Advisors from the baby boomer generation often mistakenly believe it is difficult to connect with millennials. While some millennials may be skeptical about the role of advisors, Rob Santoriello finds using these four core practices helps in reaching out to this group:

1. Leveraging technology.

2. Providing meaningful financial education content.

3. Establishing a social media presence.

4. Presenting a strong value proposition.

Finding the right fit with a business coach

Doug Bauerband believes a good business coach can add transformational value to an advisory business. Here are his quick tips on finding and working with one:

  • Conduct exhaustive due diligence on potential coaches. Your practice and clients deserve it.
  • Make sure your prospective coach is philosophically aligned with your belief system as an advisor.
  • Understand fully what services you will receive and how they will be delivered.
  • Design a meaningful and distinctive client value proposition with your coach’s guidance. It can pay huge dividends for your practice.

Digital tool kit for client and marketing management

Digital automation of advisory firm communications with clients, lead tracking, marketing efforts, and other customer relationship management (CRM) functions are fast becoming the wave of the future for progressive financial advisors. David Salley is rolling out an innovative approach provided by a third-party resource that offers compliant-friendly digital marketing strategies that include the following:

  • A total business management system for client and prospect CRM database management, calendar organization, and business segmentation.
  • A digital storage system that allows clients to upload important personal financial documents and can show consolidated investment performance from multiple accounts.
  • A virtual marketing assistant program that helps efficiently manage email campaigns, newsletters, events, and client appreciation communications.

Peer study groups pay large dividends

Arnie Pechler Jr. credits peer study groups with adding to his body of knowledge and providing a resource for best practices for his firm. Here is how his peer group works together:

 

  • A group of seven or eight advisors from different firms meets monthly over the phone.
  • There is a “supergroup” session of about 40 advisors once a year.
  • Sessions are moderated by a broker-dealer representative and can include outside speakers.
  • Goals, challenges, practice management concepts, new technology, and sales ideas are discussed.

4 ways to customize your process for each client

Understanding the financial-planning needs of your clients and customizing your process to fit their unique circumstances can be a worthwhile task. These tips from Kelly Hubrig can help make it more manageable:

 

  • Establish a personalized schedule for planning and client reviews.
  • Coordinate with internal resources or trusted third parties to deliver a custom 360-degree approach to a client’s financial needs.
  • Maintain a database of client milestone events and reach out accordingly.
  • Follow up on any client referrals with a note or call of appreciation.

Keeping advisors and clients on the same page

Managing client expectations, especially regarding how services are delivered, is critically important for a wealth advisory firm. This is a two-way street, says Judson Gee, and he asks that clients review and sign a “Client-Advisor Expectations” agreement that specifically addresses the following:

  • How promptly each party agrees to respond to inquiries from the other.
  • Preferred methods of communication (e.g., in person, via phone, text, or email).
  • Frequency of client review sessions and how they should best be scheduled.
  • A summary of broad investment objectives and a commitment by both parties to “stay the course” in working toward long-term financial goals.

Set up “ideal” criteria for acquisition targets

Advisory firms can drive profitable growth through the acquisition of other practices that present a favorable opportunity for expanding a client base. Here are the “ideal” criteria John Zinaich looks for when acquiring practices:

1. The practice is well-established, has a long-term and stable client base, and the current owner is willing to work toward an efficient transition of the equity in current client relationships.

2. There are long-term benefits to the client base of the existing firm in moving to a practice centered on holistic financial and investment planning.

3. The practice includes services that complement his firm, such as tax planning.

4. The practice should be small to midsized, with assets under management of at least $10 million.

Helping businesses with employee retirement plans

Determining and implementing best practices for an employee retirement plan can be daunting for owners of small and mid-sized businesses. Arnie Beck’s firm, Financial Management Associates helps businesses tackle these tasks using a process called “The Ultimate Retirement Plan Solution,” which includes the following steps:

  • Evaluating a company’s current retirement plan, including fee analysis.
  • Developing a request for proposal (RFP) and analysis of proposals—identifying the most effective solution.
  • Maximizing tax benefits and facilitating employee education and participation.
  • Protecting a company’s fiduciaries from unnecessary litigation.
  • Ongoing monitoring of plan investments.