Teaming Up For High Performance

Many years ago our research on the affluent led us to investigate wealth management teams. We turned our focus to teams simply because it became obvious that it was difficult (if not impossible) to manage the entirety of an affluent client's financial affairs while flying solo. The major firms have obviously picked up on this point in recent years, and have been busily organizing their advisors into

Many years ago our research on the affluent led us to investigate wealth management teams. We turned our focus to teams simply because it became obvious that it was difficult (if not impossible) to manage the entirety of an affluent client's financial affairs while flying solo. The major firms have obviously picked up on this point in recent years, and have been busily organizing their advisors into complementary groups.

Of course, building a team doesn't guarantee that you'll be better able to attract, serve and develop loyalty among affluent clients. In fact, our latest research tells us that only 17 percent of wealth management “teams” are performing at high levels. So, using our findings, we conducted a benchmarking exercise and developed a model for the high-performance wealth management team that includes 12 focus factors.

Many of these focus factors seem like common sense, but are they common practice? Not often enough. You should review each one so that you can locate the trouble spots in your team. Where are you failing? Why? There is more than one path to achieving success on any of these points; different things work for different teams. So once you have identified your weak spots, you need a team-wide plan of action.

Business Development

1.) Planning: High-performing teams must have a long-range business plan. This plan must be linked to individual short-term steps, as well as a metrics scoring system. This creates a critical path within which all activity is coordinated.

2.) Designating a leader: High-performance teams typically have one person designated as the lead rainmaker; this individual typically brings in at least 10 $1 million relationships a year.

Client Loyalty and Retention

3.) Exceptional Service: It should come as no surprise that top teams do not lose affluent clients. Strong relationships are built on exceptional service — and that requires work.

4.) Meeting Expectations: The affluent have high expectations. The best teams have identified the specific expectations of their individual clients, educated them about which ones are and are not realistic and made sure to meet the ones that are.

5.) Broad Product and Service Offering: The affluent have complicated financial lives and the most successful teams are those that are able to address that complexity with a full suite of best-in-class products and services.

Practice Management

6.) Clearly Defining Roles and Responsibilities: For many teams the “who is doing what” is blurred; this creates inefficiency. Not so in high-performance teams, which identify the strengths of different members, and assign responsibilities accordingly.

7.) Performance Goals: Personal accountability is intrinsic to the highest performing teams. Top performers are always clear about individual performance expectations, and these are designed to fit into the group's overall business plan. There is a formal process by which each individual's progress towards his or her goals is carefully measured, and those goals are readjusted as needed.

8.) Written Procedures: The best teams have a manual that outlines every policy and procedure. Consistency is essential to high-performance.

9.) Well-planned Meetings: Most teams have meetings, but only a few appear to hold effective team meetings. An effective meeting must have a clear leader, and a clear objective for end results.

Leadership

10.) Decision-making: The leaders of high-performance teams don't drag their feet when it comes to making important decisions. They are proactive, fully engaged and inspire others to perform at high levels.

11.) Solving Problems and Correcting Mistakes: Effective team leaders delegate problems to those who are most capable to solve them, and only step in when a clear solution is slow to develop.

12.) Compensation: Team leaders follow the progress of individual members towards achieving their individual goals, and work to match compensation to each member's contributions. The objective is for no team member to be disgruntled over money.

Any team committed to raising their game can join the ranks of the elite. Use these principles as a guide. Study the affluent and the best practices of high-performing teams; always strive to improve, and you will quickly distance yourself from the crowd.

Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com

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