Posts by Jamie


For many advisors and business owners in general, the thought of creating and eventually selling a successful, longstanding business is a dream come true. Unfortunately, when it comes to financial planning, most advisors merely create a job and not an actual business. Consequently, the anticipation of selling a job to another advisor is difficult and maintaining a successful business on a daily basis can be nothing short of grueling. This is why having a sales process “manual” in place not only helps you run a better financial planning firm, but can transition your job into a thriving business. Step One: Putting Your Processes into Place for Greater Sales Opportunities The first question you must answer before you begin developing a strategy to increase sales is why you want to build your firm and what you anticipate the impact to be. You cannot effectively navigate a plan if you’re unsure of what lies ahead. When it comes to establishing a process, there are three elements to consider. The first is making sure you have a definite purpose. Perhaps you are looking to increase efficiency or you want to create a consistent client experience. Whatever your reason, be sure to understand your purpose moving forward. Second, you should carefully envision all potential outcomes. Questions you may want ask yourself before proceeding are: How can we complete this in as little of time as possible? How does this plan help us to fulfill our purpose? How usable is our finished product? Understanding potential outcomes can help your business steer clear of issues along the way, and maximizes efficiency so you can dedicate more of your time to clients. Lastly, it is important to take time to review your process for any areas in need of revision. Helpful ways to organize information may include using templates to create policies, procedures & checklists. Categorizing each topic into a table of contents may also allow for easier navigation in the future. Step Two: Increasing Your Clientele through Lead Nurturing In order to generate the anticipated amount of sales for your business, your process should focus on broadening the number of contacts you have on a list. By following this process, you will see your warm leads grow progressively hotter. To convert potential clients to loyal followers, lead nurturing must be incorporated into your sales process. This concept allows you to create something of value for your prospective clients. By educating your prospects over a period of time, you are building the value proposition that clients will easily be able to latch onto. One of the many benefits of establishing a solid sales process is that...

Read More

In the past, we have discussed the importance of hiring the right people. This may sound like a simple process, but how can you be sure your company currently has the right people in place? And if you don’t, how do you go about finding them? More importantly, how do you retain them? These questions are overwhelming, but are important ones to answer, as the benefits of hiring the right people are increased effectiveness, efficiency and improved profit. As a sales trainer for financial advisors, I often use the Moss Adams profitability and compensation survey results from financial advisors. The public accounting firm concluded that the top tier firms paid employees 10% to 20% more than other financial advising companies. The firms that increased employee compensation also saw a rise in profitability by more than 30%. This means financial advisors are receiving more productivity from each employee. The question now is how do we go about hiring the right people? Gino Wickman, founder of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and author of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, suggests evaluating employees on the GWC scale: ‘Get It, Want it, and Capacity to Do It.’ Let’s look into how this approach plays out. Get It Getting it means understanding the big picture as well as recognizing the smaller pieces that are needed in order to get the job done. Does the employee understand his or her mission? Can he/she achieve the desired outcomes? Want It The employee needs to enjoy what he/she is doing and be motivated to excel. In essence, your employee needs to have a drive. This might not exist for every project, but in total, all members of your company should have a desire to succeed. Capacity to Do It The last function in the GWC scale is having the education, experience and ability to handle the job. Education and experience are easy enough to measure; however, ability is far more difficult. Ability is how an individual applies his or her knowledge in order to make decisions. Before I began incorporating the GWC scale into my hiring process, I contracted an individual who had run two offices for a prominent wealth advisor. Prior to that, she was in charge of operations for two separate financial advisors, so she was familiar with what we were trying to accomplish. She enjoyed managing others and had a history of assuming leadership positions. Her previous roles had granted her the education and knowledge needed; however, when it came to capacity, she was unable to apply her ability to communicate, make decisions or accomplish projects. If one of your employees lacks one or several of these traits, it...

Read More

Technology is advancing faster than many of us can keep up with. While I am undoubtedly a big advocate of using technology, I do believe there is such a thing as being overloaded. We are beginning to see the use of financial software such as eMoney and MoneyGuidePro becoming more pronounced. Instead of relying on the latest application to crunch numbers for you, I suggest creating a personal balance sheet for yourself and your clients. There are multiple ways in which you can create your balance sheet, either with a pen and paper or simply by using a spreadsheet. One of the significant benefits of having a personal balance sheet is that it is quick to implement and allows you to regularly update your clients. It also enables you to become more aware of your client’s net worth and more importantly, what impacts it. I personally use a balance sheet to monitor where I am going and how I can increase my wealth by adding more assets. There are two ways in which you can do this. The first is to save more money from your income. The second method is to invest in items that increase in value over time. Lessen Your Debt to Increase Your Assets There is; however, a third way to increase your wealth. This can be done by paying off debt. Reducing your debt has two positives. Not only does it minimize the led weight that is dragging down your net worth, but it lowers your monthly interest payment, allowing you to save more in order to help increase your assets. As a sales trainer for financial advisors, I am a big advocate of helping clients determine their net worth, which is calculated by subtracting liabilities from assets. Simply put, your net worth is how much you own minus how much you owe. Liabilities include unpaid credit card balances, automobile loans, student loans and home mortgages. Your assets are broken down into current assets, long-term securities (retirement accounts), real estate, personal business (if you are a business owner or entrepreneur) and personal property (jewelry, art, and cars). Your personal balance sheet should be updated once a year. When updating my sheet, I track two things: net worth and assets growth. Net worth is the remainder after subtracting liabilities from assets. If this number continues to rise, I know my wealth is growing. The second item I monitor is the value of assets or assets growth. This helps to show if what I am investing in is maturing. Tracking these two things over time has provided me with a picture of where I’m currently at...

Read More

To influence change is the edict of any financial advisor … or at least it should be. As advisors, our objective is to guide clients and create value for them. In other words, we want to sell to them. However, when it comes to selling, we often fall into the habit of trying to instruct our client on what to do. Now is the time to think about that approach — how often have you changed what you were doing simply because someone else TOLD you what to do instead? In the World Presidents Organization (WPO), Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), there is a language protocol called Gestalt. This protocol provides a framework wherein members discuss their experiences rather than give advice to one another. Essentially, members share stories based on their own account of something. These stories help make the topics more relatable to others and opens up communication for all members which aids in allowing change to occur. In a previous article, From High to Goodbye: Are You and Your Clients’ Finances in Line?, I reviewed the power of storytelling through the eyes of Chanel Reynolds. She was happily married until her husband, who was out for a bike ride in July of 2009, was killed after being struck by a vehicle. The event sent her into a state of panic and prompted her to organize her financial situation. Chanel’s story — including the actions she took and the tools that helped her – is featured on her site, http://getyourshittogether.org/. The most valuable aspect of her site; however, is not the insight into financial planning she shares, but rather the STORY she provides about how she got to her end result (finding financial stability and managing a successful website). We all can think of similar stories, either our own or from someone we know, that link us to Chanel’s story—a once-removed subject that evokes emotion and personal interest. Success in Storytelling Storytelling is a terrific art form, but what does it have to do with your financial advising business? The takeaway is simple: stories sell. In the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler describe how changing behavior is really about creating a vicarious experience. As advisors, we do not necessarily have the time to take clients or prospects through an experience. However, telling a story like Chanel Reynolds has done enables us to provide our customers with a tangible concept they can make their own. Storytelling does not come naturally for everyone though. If you’re unsure how to lead your clients on an experience through the use of words and feelings, don’t fret....

Read More

Disclosure: For investment professional use only. This is not intended as investment advice, but rather to provide an opinion by a financial professional to other financial professionals about a type of investment product. Earlier this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule requiring new fiduciary responsibilities for advisors who manage 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). When it comes to the best interest of clients, undoubtedly one of the leading financial items being sold by advisors today are variable annuities. While there are many benefits this retirement vehicle offers, variable annuities can be difficult to decipher. It is therefore critical to understand the multitude of options that accompany variable annuities in order to know what is best for your client. Creating Profit from Projections Getting the most out of a variable annuity requires extensive research in order to understand exactly what is in store. The guarantees from variable annuities are favorable compared to what the S&P 500 has provided over the last 14 years. In recent years, the stock market has fluctuated in both directions, yet the S&P 500 has only returned a total of 34.8% since September of 1999 to March of 2016. Put simply, this is a 2% return each year. With numbers like these, it is no wonder variable annuities with guarantees of 5% and 6% returns are selling well. You may be wondering why not everyone is jumping in? When I was 22 and beginning my position as a research analyst at the Gartner Group, a broker for Northwest Mutual came to my office and delivered a pitch on buying life insurance. At the time, I had no concerns and certainly no beneficiaries that I needed to take care of. I couldn’t imagine what I would need life insurance for. I told her I would look at the numbers. As any analyst would, I dove into the numbers and calculated what the expected returns would be versus investing. I compared the outlook I had for investing against the idea of putting my money in the Northwest Mutual policy. I concluded that the policy would not begin generating money for three years and at the time, I had a host of solid investments that were significantly undervalued. Even after taking into account the tax benefits I would receive with the life insurance policy, it was evident that the cost outweighed the returns and therefore, I took a pass. Looking back, I am pleased with my decision, as my investments in Gartner Group, Coca-Cola, Dairy Queen and Gen Re far surpassed the S&P 500 and certainly the life insurance policy. Comparing Variable Annuities In order to provide your...

Read More