Nuts and Bolts: How do you?

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May 11, 2006 2:37 pm

I was cleaning and rearranging my files last evening and am about to pull my hair out. 


Sooooo.  Let's have a productive discussion on the nuts and bolts of running an office.  Some of us have employees to help and some of us don't so  I assume that many of the reps don't actually have hands on experience in these activities.  BUT for those who are going independent or have had the pleasure of building an office from scratch it would be good to share a few tips.   I'm also looking to see if you have a better way than me ( I bet you do )


1. How do you keep track of cost basis, gains/loss for clients who make multiple trades both in a brokerage accounts and direct trades as well as private placements?  Paper? Computer program.


2. How do you (or your assistant) keep on top of brochures and prospectuses to make sure they are not out of date?


3. How do you keep track of your calls and prospect contacts to see where you are effective and where you are wasting time?  Dials vs contacts.


4. How do you file, compile, keep track of customer notes  future appointments, letters sent, recommendations made etc.  Electronic files? Paper?


5. How do keep from drowning in a sea of information from wholesalers and your own broker dealer?


I'll bet you guys have other How do you questions too.   My answers are going to be in the next post.

May 11, 2006 2:53 pm
babbling looney:

I was cleaning and rearranging my files last evening and am about to pull my hair out. 


Sooooo.  Let's have a productive discussion on the nuts and bolts of running an office.  Some of us have employees to help and some of us don't so  I assume that many of the reps don't actually have hands on experience in these activities.  BUT for those who are going independent or have had the pleasure of building an office from scratch it would be good to share a few tips.   I'm also looking to see if you have a better way than me ( I bet you do )


1. How do you keep track of cost basis, gains/loss for clients who make multiple trades both in a brokerage accounts and direct trades as well as private placements?  Paper? Computer program.


I've been doing it on paper. Recording in a ledger in each person's file the trades. Half the time I get behind and then have to go back and catch up. Trades made through the brokerage side are easy to record but the additions and subtractions to mutual funds are a pain in the rear.  There must be a better way.  If anyone knows a computer program let us know.


2. How do you (or your assistant) keep on top of brochures and prospectuses to make sure they are not out of date?


This one I can do.  We take a photo copy of the prospectus and make a list of other prospectuses that are of the same date.  Put the expiration date on the copy and file it in an expando daily desk file and tickle it for 2 months prior to expiration.  


We take one of each brochure and put it into a cronological file and once every 6 months (like last night!!) I go through and review if the brochure is one I have even used. If not I toss the whole pile.  If it is one I have used, then we contact the company and request more and see if the one we have is current.  


3. How do you keep track of your calls and prospect contacts to see where you are effective and where you are wasting time?  Dials vs contacts.


I use ACT to record my phone calls and other activities. I have tried all kinds of logs and systems and they work for about 3 months and then I get tired of it, get behind and trash the system. I make a call list the night before and then get distracted by drop in clients and other activities.  


4. How do you keep track of appointments, letters sent, recommendations made etc.  Electronic files? Paper?


Again I use ACT.  The program seems to work pretty good for me. Plus I set up electronic folders for each client and keep copies of letters sent, hypos, appointments etc. I still keep paper files too on everything else.  My biggest fear is that my hard drive will crash and I lose everything.  So backup backup backup the data


5. How do keep from drowning in a sea of information from wholesalers and your own broker dealer?


I don't.  The crap piles up and I think I'm eventually going to get to reading that stuff.  When the pile gets about 5 inches high and it is painfully obvious that I'm never going to read it......into the trash and wait for the next pile to build up.   Help I am drowning.

May 11, 2006 3:22 pm

Candidates regularly recommend books to me, and I list the
ones that I like on my web site.



http://www.gabrielhr.com/books.html



I especially recommend Attract and Retain the Affluent Investor, which
has a lot of good information about operations and expectations. 
"Ritz Carlton
service and Federal Express efficiency".

May 11, 2006 3:36 pm

Correction:  The Art of Selling to the Affluent uses the term "Ritz Carlton Service and Federal Express Efficiency".

Both books are excellent reads.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an FA. I just recruit them.  I haven't used these techniques myself but these books come highly reccomended by successful FAs.


Enjoy!

May 11, 2006 4:00 pm
babbling looney:

This is one area I definately KNOW I can help in! Organization is my life!


1. How do you keep track of cost basis, gains/loss for clients who make multiple trades both in a brokerage accounts and direct trades as well as private placements?  Paper? Computer program.


For now we use computer system. Still stuck between transition point from Jones to LPL system, still searching for portfolio type program comparable to Jones PA system. Our clients are "less sophisticated" and aren't into charts, graphs, pe ratios etc, they just want + or - a simplistic format. If anyone knows of such a format please let us know.


2. How do you (or your assistant) keep on top of brochures and prospectuses to make sure they are not out of date?


I use ACT software in this department.


    #1) Create a contact named after Fund Co (i.e. Lord Abbett) in this contact info, include contact #'s for vendor, internal, mailing for applications & fax numbers for processing requests. (this way you have your favorite fund company information at your fingertips)


     #2) Sit down (once per year i.e. Jan) with a stack of the current prospectus you sell from said fund family (or insurance co for annuities). Add a to-do for the date AFTER the prospectus expires with the fund name in the info field. (i.e. to-do date: 05/02/2006, to-do contact name: Lord Abbett, to-do re: America's Value Fd re-order) Do this for each fund you sell from each fund family, or product you sell from each insurance company. This will work for brochures as well.                                


 


3. How do you keep track of your calls and prospect contacts to see where you are effective and where you are wasting time?  Dials vs contacts.


Again, ACT software, but also a daily written log from old Jones sheet, which asks you to determine whether each contact was green, yellow, red (then give contact log to assistant to add notes in system) If a client or prospect's last 3-5 contacts have been red - they get moved off the list entirely. If priority slips from green to yellow - they are moved down in priority on the list. Pretty similar to Jones in that regard.


4. How do you file, compile, keep track of customer notes  future appointments, letters sent, recommendations made etc.  Electronic files? Paper?


Act software again. Since we are independent now, (and much more so responsible than at Jones) it's more important than ever to add detailed contact notes of conversations with clients in ACT (seem to notice a slip in comprehension in some of the more elderly clients). I am  not certain which ACT version you are using, but ours, once a contact note is added will log the exact day & time, couple this with a timer on the phone to list how long the conversation lasted. Client handwritten notes are kept in "incoming correspondance".


5. How do keep from drowning in a sea of information from wholesalers and your own broker dealer?


First off, if you have an assistant, make sure he/she knows which companies you are interested in hearing from. So when say American Skandia calls and is not on the list, your assistant can politely decline an appointment on your behalf. Better use of your time, better use of vendor's time. 


Next, the constant influx or brochures, rate cards, charts, newsletters, company updates: I keep a stackable basket on my desk with 2 sections #1) Vendor Material & #2) Firm Material. As these items come in the mail I sort to the appropriate basket and my rep reviews once per month.


In this regard we still adhere to Jones training and philosophy, and it can be boiled down in the simplest of terms to the following statement: If it makes us money - Do it first, If it doesn't - It can be done later.


I'll bet you guys have other How do you questions too.   My answers are going to be in the next post.

May 11, 2006 7:53 pm

I don't do much mutual fund business anymore, but rather than try to keep track of prospectuses, I just print them up as needed from the mutual fund website.  That way I'm all but certain that I have the latest and there's no chance of getting caught flatfooted with out-of-date liabilities.