Palm Desert: "I've been in the business 32 years and have more experience than the majority of advisors attending this conference," Frank said with pride, before confessing, "but if I'm really honest with myself, I've gotten lazy over the past couple of years."
Lazy?! In the midst of what Warren Buffett referred to as our Financial Pearl Harbor! Could you imagine if General Marshall was of a similar mindset during the aftermath of the real Pearl Harbor? I shudder even thinking about it.
Yet, there are a lot of veteran advisors who can relate to Frank's statement. He's made good money, raised his children, and just when he was thinking about taking it easy—wham,the financial crisis wreaks havoc on his plans. This discussion evolved from Frank sharing with me his two-year experience with a publicist and then asking for my advice - in earshot of everyone dining at our table during a conference dinner.
Although it seems that he was able to get some press and has search-engine presence, in his own words, "It hasn't made me a dime - not one client." He wanted to know why. After taking him to the woodshed about his confession of self-proclaimed laziness, I explained that it's highly unlikely that an advisor can "buy" new affluent clients with the likes of a new brochure, a seminar package, or a publicist. Our research on both the affluent and elite advisors tells us these marketing initiatives are yesterday's news:they don't work.
As I was now addressing every advisor at the table, I proceeded to give a mini-coaching session on today's affluent investors and some of the "do's and don'ts" advisors should understand. Frank’s approach was one example of how advisors should NOT market their services. I then outlined eight criteria that are important to today's affluent investors. Next I asked everyone to use their napkin to write these criteria down so they conduct a quick self-assessment concerning their ability to deliver these basic services. With an apology to Frank, I also asked the table to determine whether an advisor could deliver on all of this laziness.
8 Criteria the Affluent Want in a Financial Advisor
1. Proactive contact when anything might impact their family's financial affairs.
2. Full disclosure of all fees.
3. Understanding of their family's situation; needs, goals and financial objectives.
4. Source and coordinate outside financial experts when necessary.
5. Risk-tolerant asset allocation regarding their investments.
6. Create and execute a comprehensive financial plan.
7. Organize and update all financial documents.
8. Coordinate all investments.
The pressure was off Frank. Although he was the only one who'd wasted serious money on low-impact marketing activities, none of the advisors was delivering on all eight criteria. Frank's discomfort centered around his self-proclaimed laziness. He wasn't sure he wanted to work that hard and felt cheated considering his current focus on alternative investments, built on his 32 years of experience, wasn't enough to differentiate himself from other advisors. Unfortunately, his publicist didn't know what today's affluent are looking for from financial advisors (hint - to oversee the all aspects of their family's financial affairs). Hence, a lot of money was spent and no new affluent clients were acquired. Regardless of your years of experience or your industry-specific expertise, all aspects of your practice management should be geared to meeting the needs of today's affluent.
Here is another irrefutable truth that I explained to Frank and everyone else at the table; he needed to do more than simply deliver on these eight basic affluent criteria. Today's financial advisor must be skilled on two fronts, and both require time, energy, and resources.
1. Relationship management with top clients. I know this sounds rather simple but for many advisors, and definitely the advisors at this table, this involves rebranding your services. All of which is now a prerequisite for penetrating affluent client centers-of-influence, and succeeding on the second front...
2. Relationship marketing with top clients and their centers-of-influence. This requires a mastery of affluent sales skills. Our research on financial advisors tells us this is the #1 training need, coupled with a thorough understanding of affluent needs, wants, and perceptions.
Because today's affluent are likely to have a misperception of the services you provide, you must work diligently to re-position yourself in the mind of each affluent client. The message is simple; no laziness allowed as there is opportunity out there. So, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to work hard.The money is out there waiting for you.
If you would like a FREE copy of our Assess Your Affluent Sales Skills PDF visit our Download Center. Enjoy!
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If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected]