Managing invoicing, investment research, staffing, and the small galaxy of other back-office tasks leaves little time left over to focus on your own future. How do you grow your practice when you're already spending all your time managing the day-to-day operations?
Your clients have placed their financial future in your hands—that's a serious responsibility. In order to provide the level of service your clients deserve, you need to ensure that your practice is running smoothly, especially during a market downturn.
Fortunately, growing a financial advisory practice doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor. Like most things in life (and finance), taking small steps now can lead to major outcomes in the future. We’ve assembled five high-impact tips you can take so that growing your advisory practice can easily be accomplished even when you’re not at your best.
Revisit your strategic plan. It’s tempting to say, “Of course, I have a plan! It's just not written.”
But the reality is that many advisors could benefit from writing it out. For many, the plan is really more of an aspiration, like wanting to break into retirement planning next year or growing AUM by a certain percentage.
A well-crafted strategic plan serves as your north star and ensures that you channel your efforts towards achieving your long-term goals rather than towards short-term challenges.
When you have your plan fully outlined, you can more easily observe the impact of your strategy in action, compare your anticipated and real outcomes, and fine-tune your approach as you work toward growth.
After you’ve defined your goals, processes, and value proposition, it’s time to act on them and share them.
When your staff understands the different actions you're taking, the reasons behind them, and the intended effect, they can act independently to further your firm's goals.
When your clients and leads hear from you, in prospecting conversations and in your marketing, what makes you unique as a financial advisor and what type of experience they can expect, they can more easily refer potential clients that are a close match. Read more about how value propositions improve marketing.
High levels of communication are especially needed during market volatility or downturn when clients and staff need more communication and assurances. Clear, straightforward communication contributes to your staff and clients having confidence in you and by proxy confidence in your practice.
As you grow your practice, you’re going to run into challenges. As business owners, our first instinct is often to hire an expert that specializes in a given problem or to expand capacity—essentially, to hire your way out of the challenge.
Sometimes hiring is the right answer, but it’s no silver bullet. For example, maybe one of your more valuable clients is seeking a service you don’t provide, like estate financial planning. To keep that client happy, maybe you hire an expert in estate planning. The client is receiving that extra service, but your other clients don’t really need estate planning, and now you’ve got to pay for a resource that you are scarcely using.
Hiring more staff will be part of your growth, but the right timing is key. Ask yourself two questions:
If the answer is yes to both questions, then staffing up might make sense. Otherwise, you should keep your focus on your main value proposition.
That doesn’t mean you need to limit your service offering. In many industries, outsourcing is an effective and efficient means to expand businesses. For financial advisors, a recent large-scale nationwide study revealed that outsourcing investment management resulted in not only delivering better investment solutions but also improved client relationships, business operations, and personal career-life balance.
Because third-party asset management organizations specialize in common services like investment management, estate planning, retirement planning, and more, they help advisors expand their service offerings without diluting their value proposition.
If you’re looking to diversify your service offerings without stretching your resources, we highly recommend checking out the results of the most recent study on The Impact of Outsourcing Investment Management.
Insights for your practice can be anywhere—staff, other advisors, LinkedIn, etc. Perhaps the most insightful will be your clients.
You don't need to perform massive CSAT or NPS surveys. Start by calling ten of your clients: five that you would consider your ideal client and five that you fear you might lose. Explain that you're assessing your business and ask them for frank feedback. Why did they choose you? What do they like about your services? What do they like the least? Would they recommend you?
Capturing answers to questions such as these is key to adapting your plan and focusing on what works. If nothing else, it will show your most important clients just how important they are to you.
If you’ve identified your unique value proposition—the services that your clients respond to the most, the need you fill the best, the work that you enjoy doing the most, and so on—then these are the strengths you should focus on as you grow your financial advisory practice.
You’re going to see other advisors approaching financial services in a different way that appears to be working well. That’s wonderful for them, but it doesn’t mean the same approach will work for you. Worse, trying to replicate somebody else’s approach dilutes the unique value you bring to your clients.
AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.
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