C2P

Financial Advisors: 9 Tips to Build an Effective Marketing Plan

Published July 18th, 2019 in Blog |

Marketing Plan

Do you want to expand your reach and grow your client base? Or do you need focus on specific demographics in order to increase your prospect to client ratio? It might be time to develop and implement a targeted marketing plan to help you reach those objectives.

Writing a marketing plan can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never put one together before. Here are 9 tips to get you started:

  1. Assess your current state – Look at what you’ve done in the past and build from there.
  2. Know your audience – Figure out who you really need to reach.
  3. Define your challenges – What in your business needs to change for you to be successful?
  4. Set your goals – Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound) goals to keep everyone focused on the same end result.
  5. Establish your strategy – Define what you’re going to do to achieve your goals.
  6. List your tactics – Establish how you will execute the strategy.
  7. Create milestones and accountability – Milestones help track your progress and provide checkpoints on how well the strategy is working.
  8. Evaluate your resources – Make sure you have the necessary budget, personnel and technology in place to achieve your goals.
  9. Report, analyze and optimize – Track your results, analyze your data and adjust as necessary to optimize your success.

Did you find this helpful? For a more comprehensive look at how to build an effective marketing plan, download the “Marketing Plans 101” Whitepaper below.

3 Ways to Reduce Stress and Increase Revenue for Your Financial Firm

Published June 17th, 2019 in Blog |

Advisors can learn how to reduce stress and increase revenue

Both investors and their advisors are feeling more stressed than they were five years ago, according to a recent study by the Financial Planning Association. Added to which, advisors are even more stressed than their investors.  71% of financial advisors consider themselves moderately to highly-stressed, compared to 64% of investors.

Fee compression, shrinking margins and increasing competition are just a few of the contributing factors identified in a recent article from CNBC. Not to mention bouts of market volatility and political uncertainty are becoming more frequent in a bull market that is more than a decade old, leaving many questioning the fate of their investments. If you are feeling the stress mounting for your financial business, read on for tips to diffuse the pressure!

How to Reduce Stress and Increase Revenue

  1. Problem: Fee Compression & Shrinking Margins

An increasing demand for transparency and fiduciary standards has advisory fees front-and-center now more than ever before. Plus, additional layers of compliance and technology are increasing standard operational costs to do business as an advisor. Those who cannot compete by elevating the value of their service will be left chasing sales with slashing prices.

 

Solution: You have two choices.

  • Treat yourself like a financial sales bin bargaining for discount shoppers or
  • Elevate your service in a way that not only justifies your value but also warrants a planning fee! Providing a comprehensive financial planning process is the ideal opportunity to deliver more value, discover and capture more assets, and diversify and increase the revenues of your firm.

 

  1. Problem: Increased Competition

In addition to your competition being fueled by lean margins, the level financial awareness and education of average consumer is continuing to increase. The demand for holistic financial planning for average American families has never been higher. Those agents who have relied on product pitches and sales tactics are unlikely to survive the future of financial planning.

Solution: Want to reduce the stress of competition? Investing in your professional education to raise the caliber of your services is the most essential step needed for the financial advisory firm of tomorrow. Be proactive in seeking out training opportunities and services that put you in a different league than your competitors and make your value undeniable. Plus, if you are investing in your education, that knowledge is likely worth more than just giving away for free, (further justifying the value of planning fees from our first point!)

 

  1. Problem: Market Volatility

If your phones are currently ringing with every blip in the market, there is a very good chance that your book of business has not been built to withstand the next major downturn. Whether it is from your investors panicking or capital losses themselves, there is a good chance your AUM revenues are in for a rude awakening.

 

Solution: Leading with a structured, educational approach will help to set crystal clear expectations, lessening the stress of market volatility for you and your clients alike. Your process should include

  • Foundational conversations introducing the biggest risks in investing (market risk, interest rate risk and sequence of returns),
  • A multi-dimensional approach to assessing volatility tolerance and
  • A structured, written and memorable financial plan to help keep clients remain cool, confident and on track for the immediate, short- and long-term goals.

 

Looking for more help reducing stress in your financial firm?

The Bucket Plan® is one of our signature turnkey planning processes that delivers all of these solutions and more for you, your team and your clients. Complete the form below to download a white paper to learn about our 21 processes or call Clarity 2 Prosperity today at 888-240-1923.

The Pursuit of Best Interest Advice Requires a Best Interest Process

Published May 16th, 2019 in Blog |

In early May 2019, Alexander Acosta, the Department of Labor Secretary, stated that the DOL is working with the SEC to resurrect the fiduciary rule. This is not a surprise to those of us who follow this ever-changing proposed legislation.

As advisors, we know a best interest standard is a good thing, but what does it mean to our businesses? More compliance, more paperwork, reduced efficiency, lower revenues?

It depends on whether you have a documented best interest process.

So what exactly is a documented best interest process?

Let’s break it down:

Documented is defined as a record (something) in written, photographic, or other form.

Best Interest is defined by the DOL as being required to make prudent investment recommendations without regard to one’s own interests, or the interests of those other than the customer; charging only reasonable compensation; and making no misrepresentations to their customers regarding recommended investments.

Process is defined as: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

To summarize, it is a written process one takes the client through to validate how the presented recommendations were determined, and how those recommendations are in the client’s best interest.

How do you ensure you have a Documented Best Interest Process?

The DOL stated that:
“This is not a search for subjective good faith –a pure heart and an empty head are not enough.”

But they did say that:
“…advisers can usually prove they have acted in clients’ best interest by documenting use of a reasonable process and adherence to professional standards in deciding to make the recommendations and determining it was in client’s best interest…”

Regulators and enforcement (attorneys) that find you have followed a documented process with all the evidence on how and why you arrived at your recommendations will likely dismiss the case (unless gross negligence took place). This makes the need to standardize your sales
process, including all steps of data-gathering and justification on the recommendations provided, an absolute essential.

If you do not already have a detailed, documented, step-by-step process, now is the time to put one in place. There are many steps associated with creating a plan and all data-gathering needs to happen in a formalized manner so you can validate, if needed, why recommendations were made with procedural prudence. Producing a written financial recommendation not only provides the documentation needed to cover best interest requirements, but it also provides your clients and prospects with peace-of-mind and confidence in their financial plan and your recommendations. Since market changes and media headlines constantly influence the emotions of investors, a tangible outline can serve as a touchstone to help maintain long-term investment strategies and client relationships while also upholding best interest compliance regulations.

A few of the data-gathering documentation tools recommended and available through Clarity 2 Prosperity include:

  • The Fact Finder: Establish concerns and priorities and identify what planning has or has not been completed
  • Asset Sheet Questionnaire: Systematically collect the comprehensive data needed to create and document a holistic plan
  • Income Gap Assessment: Quickly and clearly identify future investment income needs for retirement and how much of your client’s income gap they would like guaranteed
  • Volatility Tolerance Analysis: Identify and document an in-depth perspective of your client’s true volatility tolerance by individually reviewing each of the three segments of their savings and scoring them separately
  • Packaged Plan Deliverable: A simple way to package your planning and recommendations into an easy-to-understand template
The Bucket Plan® Best Interest Process

The Bucket Plan Best Interest Process is a complete client engagement and educational experience. It can be used as a stand-alone process or as part of a full financial plan. While it does set the stage for retirement income distribution planning, it can be used at any point in a person’s life for financial planning.

The Bucket Plan is not solely meant to “bucket” a client’s money for different types of income or expenses. Rather, it compartmentalizes assets to efficiently ensure liquidity, maximizes potential income distributions, minimizes taxes, eliminates sequence risk, and maximizes growth and legacy planning opportunities, all while ensuring that certain risks associated with behavioral finance are minimized. We accomplish this by establishing three phases, or buckets: the immediate (Now), the short term (Soon) and the long term (Later). The Soon Bucket provides an income source for a person during the earlier years of retirement, buying an income bridge or floor to invest the rest of their money in the Later Bucket so inflation doesn’t derail their long term retirement plans.

The Bucket PlanEach phase has a different time horizon, giving each a different risk profile. By approaching bucket planning with this in mind, you can be truly strategic in advising a client on the financial solutions that will help maximize their income while focusing on minimizing controlled risks such as market volatility, sequence of timing of returns risk, inflation, taxes, longevity, and estate transfer.

The Bucket Plan Best Interest Process has six steps or tools to use with your clients when coming to a final plan and recommendation, including:

  • The Money Cycle: Educate your client on the three phases of the money cycle, along with the biggest mistakes we see clients make – skipping the preservation phase
  • The Bucket Plan Presentation: Package a financial plan in terms a client can understand
  • The Asset Sheet: Gather comprehensive information about their liquid investable assets segmented by tax qualification
  • The Income Gap Assessment: Determine the “income gap” between retirement income sources and retirement income needs
  • The Volatility Tolerance Analysis: Discover the amount of risk a client is comfortable with in each bucket in order to make suitable recommendations
  • The Pyramid of Risk: Educate your client on the level of risk associated with various types of investments and show them where they are with their current allocation

The Bucket Plan Best Interest Process identifies a client’s comfort level of risk in each bucket and gives you a full picture of all their investable assets so you can provide holistic and thorough financial advice with a keen eye towards tax efficiency. It simplifies the client experience through the planning and sequential steps, giving them the knowledge, comfort, and confidence to move forward with your recommendations.

The Bucket Plan Best Interest Process provides a deliverable to the client—further differentiating you from “other” advisors, agents, reps, and planners who are simply selling products.

By implementing The Bucket Plan Best Interest Process, you will have documented the evidence and met the best interest standard while simplifying financial planning for your clients. This simplification, in turn, will lead to more prospects hiring you for plan implementation.

The best part is that this process doesn’t require complex financial planning software or stacks of additional paperwork. We all want to do what is in the best interest of our clients, but just saying it isn’t enough. We need to document the evidence to protect ourselves from the unknown that could come as regulations become more and more complex.

Delve into the Bucket Plan Best Interest Process by downloading the white paper below.

 

Seven Ways the Right Mastermind Group Can Dramatically Boost Your Advisory Business

Published April 15th, 2019 in Blog |

7 Ways The Right Mastermind Group Can Dramatically Boost Your Advisory Business

What exactly is a Mastermind Group, and why can it be beneficial to your practice?  As a group of like-minded individuals who can exchange ideas and support each other’s plans, a Mastermind Group should have the following three attributes:

  • It must be friendly
  • It must be growth-oriented
  • It must be willing to share information among members

Advantages of Mastermind Groups

More focus – A financial and wealth management Mastermind Group provides a resource for profitable strategies and proven methods that your top-performing peers are using to boost their business.

More solutions – A Mastermind Group creates connections, friendships, and opportunities with other professionals who have experienced similar situations.

More income – You may be able to boost your business without a comparable boost in expenses by using tips you’ll learn from your Mastermind Group.

Attributes

The right Mastermind Group for your firm should:

  • Align closely with your vision and process
  • Have multiple ways you can connect
  • Be fun and have great people attending with whom you enjoy meeting.

Here are the top seven benefits:

  1. Synergy – You’ll multiply your reach through the power of the group’s ideas and knowledge.
  2. Training – Access to proven leaders, processes, and resources can keep you updated on the latest news in the financial world.
  3. Connecting – One-on-one and group support from colleagues who understand the challenges of a financial advisory firm is immeasurably valuable.
  4. Coaching – The right Mastermind Group will have top coaches everywhere, ready to share their knowledge and expertise with you.
  5. Consistency – A successful advisory practice is built on several processes, communications, and client counsel.  Consistency is crucial.  The right Mastermind Group can help you increase and maintain your consistency factor.
  6. Accountability – With the right Mastermind Group, you will have ample opportunity to not only share your own methods, ideas, and thoughts, but to also receive feedback on them.  Being accountable to peers encourages action and growth.
  7. Inspiration – Mastermind members have often been where you want to go, so learning from their successes and failures can help fast-track your own achievements.

How can you tell if one Mastermind Group will be successful and another won’t?  Here are the three differentiators:

  • Leadership – Superb talent directing the group
  • Agenda – It must be the right one for you and your practice
  • Showing Up – Participants must show up and immerse themselves in everything the sessions offer

A Mastermind Group can be a powerful tool to help you network, learn, grow, create connections and develop friendships with other professionals.  You can uncover solutions that make sense for you and your business.

Delve into these seven ways by downloading the whitepaper below.

7 Ways a Mastermind Group Can Grow Your Advisory Business

Published April 15th, 2019 in Blog |

A Mastermind Group can be a powerful tool to help you network, learn, grow and create opportunities within your financial business.

Uncover the solutions by viewing our infographic and for a complete overview download the whitepaper below.

7 Ways The Right Mastermind Group Can Dramatically Boost Your Advisory Business

Delve into the seven ways by downloading the whitepaper below.