Simple Financial Advice


Picture this: you’ve just met with a powerful potential client—a female business owner with a stellar reputation in the community. You addressed each element in her financial situation and asked all the right questions. You devised a valuable plan, and she appeared to be on board. You provided her with a detailed breakdown of fees, references, and the accounts custodian. Before your conversation ended, the two of you had already scheduled your next meeting, and then… You receive an email saying that she has not yet reviewed the information you provided and is therefore postponing the meeting. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Interactions like this are frustrating and time consuming, and may leave you curious as to how you can prevent clients from dragging their feet in the future. Driving the Sales Process with an Effortless Evaluation Plan In his book, “The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Sales Process that is Changing the Way People Sell,” author Keith Eades emphasizes that as a salesperson, it is vital to guide clients along in a way that promotes accountability from both parties involved. One way Eades encourages accountability is to use an evaluation plan as a road map while navigating your business as well as your clients’ needs. An evaluation plan is a step-by-step checklist that outlines each milestone, date and party or individual responsible for taking action. Implementing a plan helps to keep the process on track and helps prospects understand what is expected at every step along the way. Here is a sample evaluation plan: If a prospect has suggestions or makes adjustments to the plan, that’s an even better sign. This means the individual is fully engaged in the process and feels hopeful about the next steps. This organizational tool can encourage prospects to own the plan and take charge of the process. The more involved your clients feel, the greater the likelihood that they will engage with YOU.Utilizing a plan also pushes you to understand where you — as the advisor — stand with prospective clients. If they accept the evaluation plan, you can be confident that the sale is moving in the right direction. If a prospect isn’t ready to move forward in the sales process, it is unlikely that they would agree to set an evaluation plan into...

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At one time, the Dallas Cowboys were America’s most favored team. This statement may have come from the fact that as a kid, I was impressionable, or perhaps it was the only game in town in the ‘70s, but ever since, I have loved the Dallas Cowboys. However, as a general manager, Jerry Jones’ ability to choose great players has been dismal, especially on defense. As a sales trainer to financial advisors, the best advice I can extol, aside from creating processes and procedures for your firm, is hiring the right people. I will begin by providing my own story and will give an example from Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. Find Employees Who Manage Your Business, Not Your Time My own story begins when I was in search of an office manager. Business was booming and I needed someone who was not only organized but could organize me and was a self-starter. I asked friends and businesses associates for ideas. I received a great recommendation from a friend who was a portfolio manager. He recently closed his business as an RIA and his office manager was doing projects but was not currently employed. With his fanatical recommendation, I hired her. She was friendly, smart and enthusiastic. However, as I came to learn, she did not understand the job. I needed someone who could meet deadlines and who was able to solve problems on her own. I quickly learned that she simply didn’t have these traits. Rather than correct the course and part ways, I tried managing them. This meant having frequent update meetings and helping her prioritize. Having finally realized that managing her was not the solution, I let her go after nine months, which set the firm back even further. The Right People Right Now Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, has stated that the most important trait of the business is having the right people on the bus. Once you have the right people, you can create your mission and focus for the business. In his book, Collins delivers an example using Wells Fargo. In 1975, the company turned their focus to having all the right people. Before that time, they were a regional player, competing head-to-head with Bank of America. After the mortgage crisis, the company survived and flourished and has gone on to become the biggest mortgage originator in the country. For financial advisors, if your focus is to grow and serve your clients, the primary task that you should spend your time on is hiring the right people. As a small employer, it can be difficult to hire, let alone find...

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Are you a fee-only financial advisor who is looking to double your client base? What if we told you all you needed to do is sign up for the AUM in a Box email list? Signing up for our email list can help you gain insights to double your business and win free material that will help keep your business moving in the right direction. It’s a win-win! We recently offered the chance for people who signed up for our list to win a copy of Conquering the Divide: How to Use Economic Indicators to Catch Stock Market Trends, written by Michael J. Carr and AUM in a Box founder Jamie Cornehlsen. This book is retailed at $200 on Amazon. We’re pleased to announce Daniel Guillen as our first winner! More limited edition copies are available to advisors who sign up. Connect with us today to build your business and earn the profits you...

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I have been using a personal balance sheet since 1994. At the end of each year, I record the value of all my assets and liabilities. And I use a personal balance sheet with clients—the need for fancy software simply isn’t there. A personal balance sheet is the most helpful tool as it enables you to become more aware of your clients’ net worth and what impacts it the most. When providing sales training to financial advisors, my objective is to find simple and useful tools. I use the personal balance sheet with individuals to monitor where they are currently and where they are going. It allows both the advisor and the clients the ability to decide if they will increase their net worth by increasing assets or by reducing what they owe, better known as liabilities. A client’s net worth and liabilities fluctuate throughout their life. Below I have included ways for you and your clients to determine net worth and manage liabilities at every age. IN YOUR 20s Most individuals in their 20s have just finished college and have assumed loans for attending school. They have saved little and may even have credit card debt. At this time, your clients have a negative net worth, meaning their liabilities exceed their assets. With their first job post-college, they may be making significantly more money than ever before and may have the urge to spend all this money but should consider paying off debt. You can improve their net worth by pushing them to pay down the debt as fast as possible. Encourage your clients to forgo the Starbucks coffee, stay in one or more nights a week and use what they are saving to pay off the debt. IN YOUR 30s Clients in their thirties often get married, may have two incomes and may be considering starting a family. This is a big transitional decade. For a period of time, your clients’ net worth increases because of the dual income. They can start putting away money in their 401k or an IRA. As they welcome children, expenses increase. They may even buy a home. They may have enough for a down payment, but they may also take on a mortgage. Consequently, the surge in net worth diminishes due to the reduced savings and the purchase of the home. IN YOUR 40s Your client’s income has begun to rise, but expenses are high due to managing a family.  Clients are thinking about sending kids to college, and it is important to make sure that they are saving and putting away more for retirement and for their children’s education.  There...

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A new website, www.newretirement.com, may be just what fee-only financial advisors have been looking for. In one of my recent posts, I highlight the opportunity to provide financial advice to the middle class (Five Tips on How to Serve the Middle Class and Make Money). Building on that post, this entry discusses a simple tool that you can utilize that is cost effective and will allow you to provide a financial plan to clients, make a profit and still provide an affordable service to lower and middle-class clients. Financial Plan at Your Fingertips www.newretirement.com is a site that runs individuals through a series of questions about their personal wealth to create a financial plan. The site is crisp and well thought out. And, it’s quick to use—it only takes five minutes to complete the input data. The downside? As you go through the survey then the analysis, there are links to products and services. This could be helpful to provide different resources, but I also think it is a bit intrusive. While I have not included an analysis of every single detail of the site, below are some insights: Input: There are three broad categories to input: retirement funds, value of business (if you own your business), and other savings.  Having three broad areas keeps it easy, which may work well for individuals. I’m concerned that this section lacks some scalability and functionality.  Might different accounts grow at different rates?  Could you accelerate savings to any of these accounts? Dashboard: Visually appealing and helpful, there are three parts to the dashboard analysis section: retirement costs, income and assets over time, and risks to your retirement. Cost of Retirement Scorecard: This is extremely helpful with its colored timeline of green, yellow and red, indicating when money may run out. However, the scorecard also contains other symbols that represent other factors affecting retirement costs, which I find confusing. Chart of Income and Expenses: Offered as a line graph or as a bar graph, the Chart of Income and Expenses is very helpful. Both graphs show the accumulation and then what would happen as a person begins withdrawing from his/her assets. It includes a comparison to the local average, which I appreciate. “What are the Big Risks to Your Retirement?” Report: By far, this is the best analysis. As shown in the chart on the right (click on the image to enlarge it), this provides a table with seven sections and the level of risk (green, yellow red).  Each section provides an explanation and guidelines to strive for.   How does a Fee-Only Financial Advisor Benefit from www.newretirement.com? There are two things...

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