A.G. Edwards' Scott Pinkerton is a team player. At 36, he's also a §2.85 million-dollar producer whose approach to the business has enabled him to operate efficiently in the office, create client loyalty and still have time left to spend with his family.
The essential element of Pinkerton's success is his seven-member team of one financial consultant, four service providers, a receptionist and a marketing person. Together, they manage §350 million for a diverse group of clients. The magnitude of his book hasn't changed the team's focus on service.
"We want to be able to continue to meet with each individual client and develop lasting personal relationships with each one, without having to turn anyone away because of the size of the account," Pinkerton says.
To get this accomplished, each team member has specific duties. "Scott's team approach is unique because of specialization," says John Holic, Pinkerton's branch manager. "Rather than having everyone on his team handle everything, he has it broken down into different components in which each team member specializes in a specific area."
The system works, but it's not easy. The key, according to Pinkerton, is to create a collaborative work environment, establish realistic goals for each person on the team, and ultimately link compensation to the accomplishment of those goals. "Goals, such as achieving branch operations certificates, becoming proficient with PowerPoint, and reviewing operational problems and coming up with solutions, are easily measured and tracked," he says.
The team is guided by its formal business plan. "It helps us prioritize and focus on activities furthering our goals, such as how to provide better client service, how to do a better job with investment management, and how to do a better job in encouraging clients to refer their friends to us," Pinkerton says.
The group creates a list of 20 to 30 projects that are ranked, given a time frame, and assigned to a team member who will be responsible for seeing the task through to completion. Biweekly meetings are held to review the progress of each project.
Clients, like Chris Hackett, owner of a flexible staffing business in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., see the team approach as a plus. "If I have questions when Scott's away on a trip, I always have someone who can help me right then and there when I call."
Pinkerton didn't always have a team to help--but he did have connections. He entered the industry in 1986, joining his father, who was branch manager of A.G. Edwards' Venice, Fla., office, and a brother, who left the business a year later. He spent his early years scouting out a specialty and building business.
"I became a CFP, then I moved on to estate planning," he says. "A couple of years later, I went into private money management after completing the Certified Investment Management Analyst program at Wharton. Today, my focus is financial planning."
The financial planning focus brought in clients, but more detail work, too. That's when Pinkerton decided a team approach would give him more time to spend with his wife and three daughters. As a result, Pinkerton can control his calendar. "Wednesdays are my date night with my family. Nothing is scheduled after 4 p.m."
What about his plans for the years to come? "As for the future, I don't have any long-term production goals set," he admits. The firm's mission statement regarding putting clients first is the priority.
"Production is the wake behind the speed boat and the speed boat is the mission," he says. "If you just focus on keeping that engine running, the wake is going to happen."
Years in Business: 13
Product Mix: 40% managed accounts, 25% stocks, 20% mutual funds, 10% trust business and 5% bonds.
Staff: Seven--one financial consultant, four assistants, a marketing representative and a receptionist.
How He Started Building Business: Offering financial and estate planning to retirees.
How He Builds Business Now: Asking for referrals.
Key Lesson Learned: "In the beginning I made the mistake of not having specific, measurable goals spelled out for each individual team member. The result is that team members often felt that their contributions were not important or relevant to the big picture."
What Clients Want Most: "I'm confident that as long as our focus remains on the clients' interests, we'll continue to reach our goals and do well."
Biggest Competitive Challenge: The pace of industry change. "It will be interesting to see what happens."