It is no secret today’s financial services landscape is changing. Baby boomers are getting ready to retire; Millennials are coming into their own and starting to think about investing; women are no longer taking a back seat when it comes to financial planning. Basically, we are on the threshold of a new financial reality in which the old “rules of thumb” no longer apply. As if this wasn’t enough to make the financial advisor’s head spin, fee compression is a very real concern and is not likely to let up any time soon.
But how does a financial advisor keep up with the ever changing playing field? The first step is to start thinking about how to truly prove your value and worth to clients. If you can’t think of anything more than designing and managing investment portfolios as your primary value and focus, you’re doing a disservice to your clients.
Where’s Your Value?
There is so much that can be of incredible value to clients who have long-term goals that reach far beyond simply beating the indices each year. Your value should include having a firm grasp of each of your client’s goals and developing long-term relationships with them so that they want your advice on every major decision they make. Your value truly lies in helping clients make good decisions right now with their money and helping them plan for a comfortable and happy future.
You’ve likely heard this kind of thing before, but are you acting on it? Have you created an advice-centric atmosphere in your practice? Do you provide unexpected and delightful service to clients? These offerings are what make a successful practice filled with long-term, loyal clientele who want to share your services with family, friends and coworkers.
Providing Value Beyond the Markets
The way you accomplish this is by becoming educated in all aspects of financial planning beyond portfolio management. To create a successful client relationship, you should know every part of your client’s financial life. Instead of making you fearful of losing clients, the new realm of financial planning could be a motivator to distinguish your practice by offering tailored specialties and services to your clients. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Develop your unique value proposition and mission statement. What do you do and how do you do it? You need to know, and you need to know how to tell the story.
- If you haven’t developed a plan to keep your practice growing, start today.
- If you’re afraid of asking for referrals, get over it. Start asking your clients, friends and family if they know anyone who is retiring, changing jobs, selling their business or home, or have any other significant transition issues in their lives where you could help them. Ask them these questions specifically, not generally: “Do you know anyone who will be retiring soon? Anyone who has had an inheritance? Anyone selling their business or home?”
- Develop other ways to bring in business that will be fun instead of painful. What do you like to do? Ask people to join you in the activities you like best, and get your clients to bring along friends to participate in the things you enjoy (golfing, wine tasting, motorcycle riding, mountain climbing).
- Segment your clients and put together services for each group.
- Create a fee schedule based on the specific guidelines you set forth in your company, whether it’s based on revenue generated per client, flat fees, hourly fees, or a combination of fees and commissions.
- If you’re not yet managing clients for fees, start putting together a plan for transitioning your book, or a portion of your book, to fees. Decide who you’re going to start with and how you will articulate your message of why you’re going to do business this way moving forward.
- Put together specific processes and workflows for everything you do in your office. When you’re organized and efficient, it frees you up to do more for your clients and enables you to enjoy doing activities with them.
- Keep track of every process in your client relationship management (CRM) system—every client conversation, every email sent, every client event, every client meeting, every form and piece of paper.
- If you don’t have a CRM system, get one. No excuses. They’re not expensive, and some are even free for smaller offices.
The most successful advisors have learned that knowing why they do what they do, how to articulate it, having strict processes they adhere to, and enjoying activities with their clients is what separates them from the rest of the pack.
About Cetera® Advisor Networks
Cetera Advisor Networks LLC is an independent broker-dealer and registered investment adviser firm that utilizes a unique regional director model to support financial advisors through the entire life cycle of their business. As part of Cetera Financial Group®, a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers, Cetera Advisor Networks is able to build and support regional teams through local service, regional offices and a national home office, facilitating the success of financial professionals.
Cetera Advisor Networks is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). For more information, see ceteraadvisornetworks.com.