We are all busy. Life is busy. Running a business is busy. The word busy is even in the word business...sort of. I make a motion to change the spelling of the word business to busyness. All in favor say "I".... (crickets). Moving on.
I get it. Being a financial advisor is tough. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed. And don't even get me started on all the back office stuff you have to keep up with.
If you want to grow your practice you're going to have to find a way to spend as much time as possible in front of the right people building relationships. Notice I didn't say telling them about the next hot stock. Can I be frank (sure can I still be Garth...)?
You're not the best stock picker in the world. If you were you'd be running a $10B hedge fund from your 100 ft yacht in the Caribbean. Your value, as a financial advisor, to your clients is in the relationship.
What if you found the time in your busyness (still no?) to add one more meeting with the right person per month? Per week? Per day? I'm guessing that would have a significant impact on your business. So why don't you do it? Why don't you build more relationships with the right people?
(insert laundry list of excuses)
At the end of the day it comes down to time. You're too busy, right? Life is busy. The most successful financial advisors I know are very efficient with their time. They have a process for everything so that their business is streamlined and they spend most of their time building relationships. And remember your value, as a financial advisor, to your clients is in the relationship.
After numerous conversations with some of the top advisors around the country, I came up with the top 5 processes successful financial advisors should have in place.
Marketing is the process of letting people know you understand a problem they may have, informing them about your solution to it, and giving them the chance to contact you for more information. Lead generation. Attracting potential customers to you. The key to effective marketing is understanding your audience. The ultimate goal is to position yourself as THE subject matter expert in a particular niche. This can often be achieved by consistent messaging in relevant content via articles, advertisements and/or social media. Too many advisors are generalists, which is why their marketing doesn’t work.
Prospecting, on the other hand, is you proactively reaching out to meet people who you may be able to help. Similar rules apply to prospecting. Too many advisors are generalists. How many times have you met an another advisor at a networking event that works with HNW individuals that are 55+? (yawn…just. like. everyone. else.). Sure you do, boss. My guess is you’re at that general networking event because you’ll work with anyone who is willing to give you their money. And your pitch proves it. That is why it isn’t working. Think about the doctor analogy for a minute. If you’re about to have open heart surgery, who do you want to do it? Obviously you’d pick the heart surgeon over the family practitioner. Your clients think the same way. If you position yourself as THE subject matter expert for a particular niche, you can prospect in the places where your best clients will be. Your elevator pitch should be consistent with the marketing messages you put out too.
First of all, it should go without saying but I see it constantly. Be respectful of people’s time. If you scheduled an hour, don’t let it take two hours. If it gets close to the time acknowledge it and take the appropriate next step. Have an agenda. Stick to it. Check for understanding of the agenda with your prospect/client. Keep some buffer time in it to allow for conversation, questions, and if they would like to add something. There are several types of meetings you may have in your practice (intro, getting to know you, solution presentation, periodic review…). Have a clear plan for each type of meeting. It will simplify things for you and your clients will appreciate it too.
Essentially onboarding is another meeting (or series of meetings), but it is so important it is worth its own category. The most important things to get right during the onboarding process are making the client feel welcomed/special and setting expectations. If you get those things right life will be much simpler in your practice. If not, well, brace for impact. This is where you get to shine regarding how easy it is to do business with you.
Financial Planning and Investing
How many advisors do you know that focus all of their time on generating returns across 100 different portfolios? My guess is that none of them are top producers. Top producers realize their value, as a financial advisor, to clients is in the relationship. They are not trying to be the best stock picker in the world, because they are aware they are not. They are aware that most people don’t need a complex solution. They take a simple approach to investment management, focusing their time on client goals and planning. As for planning, they also streamline that as much as possible. They cover similar topics which each client and dive down the appropriate rabbit hole as needed based on how questions are answered. They have a few key partners they work with that are on board with the process, bringing them in when their expertise is required.
We are all busy. Life is busy. Running a business is busy. Being a financial advisor is tough. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed. If you want to grow your practice you're going to have to spend your time wisely. Your value, as a financial advisor, to your clients is in the relationship. Spend your time deepening relationships and adding value.