Advance your business by focusing on 3 key initiatives

By Graham Day, Managing Director, Head of Sales & Distribution

In the book, “Living with a Seal,” entrepreneur Jesse Itzler felt himself drifting on autopilot. To combat that feeling, he hired a rather unconventional trainer – a Navy Seal, widely known as the “toughest man on the planet” -- to help him step out of his comfort zone and make real progress in his life. While you don’t need to go to those extremes in your advisor practice, you may want to think about how you are operating your business. Are you willing to try something new to build your business?

As a financial professional, you may have a deep understanding of the products your clients need to have a comfortable retirement. But to truly be successful, you need to do more than that. In this article, I’ll touch on three key initiatives that can help you advance your business by stepping outside your comfort zone to (1) deliver a great client experience, (2) customize a growth strategy, and (3) constantly look for ways to get better.

  1. Deliver a great client experience

    According to Goldman Sachs, the number one reason clients stay with an advisor – and leave an advisor for another – is the delivery of a great client experience.1 But how can you create a client experience that is better than other financial professionals?

    You may be saying, “I already do this. I provide reviews for my clients, I am there to put out fires when they need me. That’s providing great customer service.” While that may be true, a great client experience is more than handling issues and regular reviews. Try these steps:

    Communicate the way your clients want.
    When my wife and I changed advisors recently, we expected our first meeting to be about filling out paperwork and conversations about risk tolerance, reviewing our portfolio, etc. Instead, the very first document our new advisor asked us to fill out was a questionnaire about how often we wanted him to communicate with us. Everyone is different, so understanding how much, under what circumstances, and using what medium (email, text, social media, phone calls, in-person visits) your clients want to hear from you can make the difference between a good client experience and a great one. And, because things can change, periodically ask for feedback to see if your communication strategy is working.
     

    Provide your clients with an education journey.
    All too often, financial professionals literally drop all of their knowledge and resources on prospects and new clients at once, which can be overwhelming for many. Instead, take some time to get to know your clients and develop an education journey for them – one that progresses through their needs and concerns over time. Bring in experts from outside sources to add credibility and leverage your partnerships and the resources they have at their disposal.
    In other words, you don’t need to create or re-create everything from scratch in order to meet your clients’ changing and evolving needs.

    Appreciate your clients by supporting their community.
    Typical client appreciation events include dinners, wine tastings, and happy hours. While these are fun and clients enjoy being treated to meals and drinks, consider stepping outside the box and inviting them to a community event. Many of the best financial professionals take the time to give back to their communities, either by volunteering or sponsoring activities that help those less fortunate. Consider inviting your clients to those events.

  2. Customize a growth strategy

    Most of us have put together a business plan at some point in our careers. But, sadly, we probably did it for the benefit of someone else. Here’s your chance to put together a business plan that will benefit you and bring in additional business for years to come.

    • Focus on the process, not the end result. Those who enjoy and have a passion for the process of developing business are more likely to succeed over those who focus solely on gaining clients.
    • Set clear goals. The most successful financial professionals are those who deliberately focus their efforts on clear, specific goals. Think SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
    • Voice your opinion. To grow your network of clients and referral providers, you need to be known as an expert in your field. The best advisors find platforms to voice their opinions, whether that’s posting articles or opinions on LinkedIn, speaking at meetings, or attending networking events. Think about who is in your center of influence (CPAs, attorneys, etc.) and connect or get in front of them at least once a quarter to remind them of your expertise.
    • Ask for referrals. According to research, 88% of new clients come from client referrals and personal relationships.
      2
       So, don’t hesitate to ask.

  3. Consistently look for ways to get better

    To build a sustainable business – one that will grow and last over the long-term – you need to constantly evolve and look for ways to be better, faster, and more efficient.

    One way to do this is to invest in technology. Technology in the financial services space has created lots of opportunities for financial professionals to better connect with clients, more efficiently manage their day-to-day business, and better understand the opportunities available to them within their current book of business. Here are a few ways to incorporate technology into your daily practice:

    • Integrate a customer relationship management (CRM) system into your practice
    • Use electronic statements
    • Maintain a well-designed website for your business and have a social media presence
    • Utilize technology that your partner firms offer, such as apps

    The right technology will also help you uncover niche market opportunities within your existing client base.

    However, before you get started, you may want to ask yourself a few questions to make sure you’re on the right path:

    • Is your niche market narrow enough?
    • Do you have extensive knowledge in this subject?
    • Are there identifiable centers of influence?
    • Is this an underserved market?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are ready to get started.

Put your ideas to work.

In the end, the most successful financial professionals are the ones who display traits that any great entrepreneur or business owner would. That means, they don’t impose limitations on themselves and they don’t simply keep doing the same things year after year. Instead, they act more like Jesse Itzler and “get uncomfortable” in order to get better. They constantly ask for feedback, keep a list of and stay in front of top influencers, and have a passion for the process of developing, keeping, and growing their business.

1. Source: https://www.gsam.com/content/gsam/us/en/advisors/resources/advisor-resources/business-practice-landing/thought-leadership/global-best-practices.html
2. Investments & Wealth Institute, Focus Research Series, Issue 1 2018

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