Wouldn't it be nice to have someone, or a number of someones, who could help you stay focused on new ways to help existing clients and bring in new ones?
Get this: that practice-building helper may be walking the halls of your branch, just looking for you and ready to offer all sorts of assistance — for free. Let me introduce the 21st Century Wholesaler.
Yes, he or she resembles that same species you knew way back in the 20th century. But now, these happy road warriors have new marching orders. The companies that use wholesalers to distribute their wares want their foot soldiers to be “business consultants” in the true sense of the word. They want their products represented by sophisticated financial professionals who have more to offer than free bologna sandwiches at cattle-call lunches.
Wholesalers can help you land clients, get proprietary research on a stock a high-net-worth client of yours is long on, and assist you through a nettlesome asset allocation project.
For some of you, this is not a revelation. The best financial advisors have been getting wholesalers to sponsor seminars, client appreciation events and the like for years. So, your job is to help your 21st century “business consultant” wholesaler help you. The strategy is simple.
Everything you do must be linked to two vital elements. First is your business plan, which needs to be so well conceived that it continually pulls you toward its accomplishment. Second is the profile of your ideal client. Every initiative, every dollar spent must be aimed at clients and prospects that match that profile. If you can do this, you have the foundation for establishing a valuable partnership. Prepare by:
Developing a five-year business plan, complete with the profile of an ideal client and a minimum account standard.
Segmenting your current client base into four categories: ideal clients, clients you will upgrade to ideal, profitable clients and low revenue/low potential clients.
Clarifying your use of mutual funds and managed account managers. Set criteria for selection of families of funds and stay open to new and innovative funds and styles, etc.
Determining your business development strategy for attracting prospects who match your ideal client profile.
A good consultative wholesaler will build on this foundation. But how do you know which wholesalers make good business partners?
Look for these qualities:
Do they have a thorough understanding of your five-year business plan?
Do they understand your ideal client profile and why you selected each of the criteria?
Are they well versed in your financial advisory process, investment philosophy, etc.?
Are they sophisticated, knowing the pros and cons of different investing styles and financial vehicles?
Next, consider how they will work with you. The wholesalers who will provide the greatest added value will do the following:
Help you complete and evaluate a benchmarking assessment so you will know the specific “performance gaps” you need to address.
Assist you in developing a series of action steps that will begin closing your gaps.
Help you analyze your affluent client segmentation and introduce you to both basic and innovative funds that are appropriate for each specific segment of your client base.
Establish accountability. Follow up and help you stay on track with doing what you agreed to do.
Continually expand their understanding of your business.
The days of holding a series of seminars simply because some wholesaler is footing the bill are over. You do these seminars only if they attract prospects that fit your ideal profile. Period. Time is money, and you don't want to waste either.
You have a cadre of financial wholesalers who want nothing more than to exceed your expectations. The value you are able to generate from the wholesalers who call on you is more dependent on you than on them.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.