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Multiply Your Time by Successfully Transitioning Client Relationships to an Associate Advisor

Published August 30th, 2019 in Blog |

Hiring an associate advisor

You’ve been building your book of business as a financial advisor, carefully adding more clients and watching your revenue grow. And then it happens – you realize there just aren’t enough hours in the day to not only maintain your current client base but continue to grow it.

What do you do now?

Normally the first strategic hire is an assistant to help behind the scenes so you can add more clients while continuing to provide excellent service to the ones you already have. So, your growth continues…until you realize that once again you need to hire someone to help with the client load and all the tasks associated with it. At this point, you could consider adding associate advisors who can take on some of the client responsibilities and, eventually, take over some of the accounts as the primary advisor, allowing you to spend more time managing your growing business.

Finding and hiring good associate advisors comes with its own set of challenges. It’s difficult, it takes a great deal of time, and, let’s face it, you could end up training your eventual competition. You’ll need to find someone who is a good fit, whose personality blends in well with the existing staff, and who has the same professional goals as the other people in the firm. The new associate should be open to the proven processes that are already in place in your company and willing to work within those parameters.

Once you find a great associate advisor, how do you go about transitioning clients to them?

It’s hard to let go of clients whom you’ve nurtured because they regard you as their trusted financial advisor – but you must remember that taking care of your entire client base will prevent you from growing the business and the primary reason for hiring the associates is to alleviate your workload. The good news about transitioning clients is that you don’t have to do it overnight. For most firms, it’s a gradual, one-to-two-year process until the associate advisor takes over the account in its entirety.

What are the pros and cons of transitioning the accounts?

As with just about anything, there are upsides and downsides to bringing on more associates.

Pros:
• Hiring an associate advisor frees you up to work on larger cases and develop your business.
• It allows you to create a higher level of service for smaller clients because someone is focusing on them instead of letting the “big fish” get all the advisor’s attention.
• Associate advisors can uncover additional opportunities with the clients they manage, like Medicare, funeral expenses, etc.

Cons:
• If the associate advisor leaves, you will have to pick up the slack again.
• There is the risk of the client following the associate advisor if they leave, although that can be mitigated by an anti-piracy agreement in the advisor’s contract.
• Some clients will be unhappy about being handed over to an associate advisor.


One of the proven ways to move clients to the associate advisor is through the joint client review transition. There are specific steps to ease the client through the process of changing by incorporating these strategies inside of an annual review:

• Personally introduce the associate advisor to the client as your “right hand” on their accounts and request permission for them to sit in on the meeting.
• Create a “Meet The Team” handout featuring the original advisor, the associate advisor, and support staff. Use it to assure the client that there is a whole team overseeing their accounts. It is important to position this as an expansion of resources for the client. This approach also allows for easy replacement of any team member should someone leave the company – the team will still be there, with a replacement slotted into the open spot.
• Clarify the team members’ roles and reassure the client on continuity.
• Begin to build the associate advisor’s credibility with increasing responsibilities and direct client connection. Have the associate advisor actively participate in the review, and specifically discuss the client’s accounts themselves to demonstrate knowledge of their situation.
• Have the associate initiate further contact following the review to further boost the relationship and start adding value on their own.

These strategies will filter in during the three phases of a successful transition, which are the pre-review, the review itself, and the post-review. The last thing you want the client to do is feel like they’re being dropped. Proper planning and preparation by both you and the associate advisor will smooth the way and help avoid that type of reaction.

Pre-review, the associate advisor should follow a preparation checklist that looks something like this:

• Follow the normal process of gathering data for a review
• Review annuities to understand any riders and the general provisions of the program
• Review client data to ensure it is up to date
• Review AUM accounts, checking for alignment with risk tolerance
• Review last year’s notes, phone and action logs
• Determine potential beneficiary changes
• Add “Meet the Team” handout to the review packet
• Review any potential issues, beneficiary changes, past issues, and sales opportunities with the lead advisor

When the client arrives, you should greet them and introduce them to your associate. It’s important to establish immediate credibility by introducing them as your right hand on the client’s accounts and requesting their permission for the associate advisor to sit in on the review. This creates implied buy-in on the part of the client from the start. During the review, the associate advisor should be the one taking the notes and keeping track of any action items that need to be handled.

This is also a good time to introduce the team concept. You can use your “Meet The Team” handout to go through the team members and their specific functions when it comes to client care – positioning yourself and the associate advisor as being the two advisors on their team, plus an administrative coordinator, etc. – and present the team as an expansion of resources for them. This removes you as the single point of contact for everything the client needs and “trains” them to contact the other members of the team.

To really make this a successful transition, the associate advisor should add value by demonstrating their familiarity with the client’s accounts and situation. This will help the client begin to respect and trust the associate advisor and start a relationship with them. There are many ways to do this, but consider having them go over legal documents, update beneficiary information, review the prior year’s income tax returns, or make new investment recommendations. The closing, however, should be done by you, the lead advisor, for this initial meeting. You can ask for referrals, provide an invoice for services rendered, and summarize any follow-up that needs to occur. In future meetings, much or all of this can be left to the associate advisor; however, since the associate advisor has not yet “added value” in the client’s eyes, it would be difficult for them to ask for referrals just yet. You can also remind the client about the team resources available to them now – which leaves it open as to who will meet with them during their next visit, while not completely severing the relationship with you.

After the review, the associate advisor can further cement the new relationship by taking charge of the follow-up items. They should take the opportunity to send the client a follow-up email with contact information. This will reiterate the team approach and solidify the transition with a communication that comes from only the associate advisor.


Here are some do’s and don’ts to remember when transitioning a client to an advisor:

DO
• Position the change as an expansion of resources and a great advantage for the client.
• Reassure the client that you are still on their team and just a phone call away if they need you.
• Have non-piracy contracts signed by the associate advisor, meaning that they cannot take or contact clients or prospects of the firm should they leave the practice.

DON’T
• “Drop” your client to an associate advisor without having a transition conversation first.
• Use the word “handoff” when discussing the transition with your client.
• Tell the client that they have a new advisor. They don’t – but they do have a new associate advisor on their team.


When it comes down to it, bringing on associate advisors can be a mindset shift for you. As stated in the beginning, letting go of a client is difficult, but you must remind yourself that they will be better served with the team approach, and you will be free to seek out larger opportunities and manage your growing advisory business. Hire and train great people and your firm will continue to grow. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Have questions on how to bring on an associate advisor or how to best shift clients to an associate advisor? Get in touch with one of our business development experts today by completing the form below.

An Advisor’s Guide to Writing an Effective Call to Action

Published August 14th, 2019 in Blog |

Effective Call to Action

One of the most frustrating aspects of working with prospects or publishing articles is the lack of interaction. As an advisor, you can spend a good deal of time answering questions and providing insight, but weeks will go by and many readers never call your office or add themselves to your mailing list. To mitigate this issue, focus on creating an effective call to action, or CTA, when writing to your prospects.

Writing a Quality CTA

An effective CTA is one that keeps in mind the following:

Singularity

Singularity is first, and it’s important. Too many instructions given to a reader can be confusing, distracting, or both. Don’t litter your writing with your phone number in one paragraph, your email in another, and links to your social media scattered throughout. You should have contact information stated clearly at one point in your message or article. This way, a reader can easily find them all at one place, so they don’t have to skim through several paragraphs repeatedly if they want to get in touch in different ways. Make things easy for your prospects. And keep in mind our second point – finality.

Finality

Your CTA should be placed at the end of your writing. If you put it at the beginning, it won’t be fresh in the viewer’s mind when they finish reading. Or perhaps they won’t read what you write at all, jumping straight to your CTA and missing all the information you just provided to them. Placing your CTA at the end gives readers, who are seriously interested in your company, one final push to make contact. However, you can help the process along by keeping an action focus.

Action Focus

Your CTA should include words that are clear and commanding. Don’t simply copy and paste your phone number and email at the end of an article; instead, type a short message that politely instructs the reader on what to do next. CTAs like “Call our office at…” or “Contact us at example@gmail.com” are statistically proven to drive more traffic than a CTA that doesn’t use actionable verbs. When writing an action-oriented CTA, make sure to place a strong focus on simplicity.

Simplicity

A good CTA needs to be straight to the point. In the same way that having multiple CTAs spread throughout a message can be distracting, a long and wordy CTA will glean less results than a concise one. Don’t clutter the message with “feel free to reach out to me anytime, at…” or any similar verbiage. By providing your number and email, you are already letting the prospect know you want to hear from them. Adding pleasantries is nice but unnecessary, and it will decrease the amount of responses you receive. Finally, be sure your message has a sense of urgency.

Urgency

The last thing you can do to increase responses is add a modifier to your CTA that creates some sense of soft insistence. Again, make sure to keep things simple. By just adding “today” after the already actionable “schedule a consultation” helps make it clear that this is something the reader should do right now, even subconsciously.
So, an effective CTA is a single, concise, actionable message, placed at the end of your text that emphasizes a sense of urgency. One helpful way to remember is by thinking of it this way:

A call to action is the final instruction to a reader.

Build your CTA as if you are giving your reader one final instruction before you part ways. If you follow these steps, growing your business can be made easier, as your interactions with prospects become less like lectures, and more like launching pads to new professional relationships.

For more tips on how to improve your marketing today, download our “Marketing Plans 101: 9 Steps to Get You Started” Whitepaper below.

Advisors: Optimize your Company’s LinkedIn Page & Attract More Prospects

Published August 7th, 2019 in Blog |

Optimize LinkedIn Page Blog

LinkedIn is without a doubt one of the most powerful social media tools we have in terms of growing a client base – it’s 277% more efficient in generating leads than Facebook or Twitter. It can be daunting to use, as 260 million people regularly browse the website, standing out amongst the crowd seems impossible. But by following a few simple steps, you can optimize your company’s LinkedIn page to start gaining leads faster. And as an added bonus, a high-quality LinkedIn page will help your business even when you’re not pursuing prospects. When a prospective client searches your name as they consider your services, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one of the results be a visually appealing, regularly updated profile that paints you in a positive light, right? So, how can you go about creating that?

Define your Goals

First things first, you need to understand your target audience. Build a client persona – what does your ideal prospect look like? Income, age, occupation, knowledge, etc. When you take all of these all into account, it becomes much easier to produce content geared toward gaining and maintaining clients. You could be producing incredibly high-quality and informative content, but if it reads at too high of a level for your average prospect, is it really benefiting you? Define your business goals before beginning.

SEO

For your LinkedIn profile to stand out, prospects actually need to see it. To accomplish this, you can improve your search engine optimization, or SEO, in a few ways. First, embed the link to your LinkedIn page wherever it’s helpful, including your company website, social media accounts, emails, or any other promotional material. This will drive people to the page, as well as cause it to rate higher on search engine results. Second, make sure to insert your top keywords and phrases into your profile section. Third, you should update your page regularly with engaging content. Speaking of engaging content…

How to Post

You should aim to post some form of original content between two and four times every week. This includes any articles, videos, or infographics produced by your company. Not all content you post has to be original, however – For every 4 original informational posts, you can repost someone else’s article or video that’s relevant to you, or perhaps post a promotion for an upcoming event. This will keep your connections updated, and advertise the knowledge you can provide to any prospects viewing the page. As you focus on producing quality content (focused at your average prospect) remember to keep a cohesive vision.

Looking Good

Your LinkedIn page should be visually appealing. Each of the articles you upload needs a cover photo, something to catch the eye of the reader. Your header image should be appealing as well, with your face or logo prominently displayed, in high definition. The banner image should be reserved for promotions, advertising upcoming events, deals, or anything you want people to know about in the upcoming weeks/months. Also, – make sure to reply to any comments on you profile or posts. Not only will conversations on your page help with SEO, but it will let the commenter know you’re paying attention to your page.

Reporting & Insights

Last, remember to track the traffic on your LinkedIn page. With available services like Sprout Social, HubSpot, or Hootsuite, you can easily manage important reporting details. This will allow you to understand the demographic breakdown of your page’s visitors, so that you can correctly identify which groups your posts are reaching, and which might need more attention. These services also give you access to trends, insights, and engagement information like impressions, comments, clicks, and shares. Tracking is the important final step in maximizing LinkedIn’s full potential.

When utilized properly, LinkedIn can be a tool to help you reach new clients, strengthen professional relationships, and put your best foot forward when prospects search your company’s name. For more tips on how to improve your marketing today, download our latest whitepaper, Marketing Plan 101: 9 Steps to Get you Started, below.

 

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.