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Fifteen Truths of Elite Wealth Management Teams

This is your road map to elite status.

Are you interested in working with today’s affluent? If your answer is yes, good luck if you’re not part of (or in the process of developing) a well-oiled wealth management team. Which is, along with the need for succession planning, why the entire industry is focused on forming teams.

We’ve been researching wealth management teams for well over a decade (more than 2,700 teams), and what we discovered continues to be a blend of good news and not-so-good news. The good news is terrific—we have identified a list of commonalities within the highest-performing teams—this is your road map to elite status.

The not-so-good news is that too many teams continue to operate as a loose confederation of financial advisors, cobbled together under the illusion that presenting themselves as a team provides the benefits of teaming. Not the case.

Whether you’re on a well-established team, about to join or form a team, or simply thinking about teaming, let the following truths shed some light on the inner workings of successful wealth management teams. Because of the space limitations of this article, I’ll provide only a brief description of each. More detail will come in future articles.

15 Truths

  1. Elite teams have strong leaders who have vision, set the bar high, have high expectations and lead by example.
  2. The best teams are carefully formed. As they’re coming together, they pay attention to details, agree on a vision and are willing to have tough discussions.    
  3. Long-range business plans guide the teams’ efforts: thinking forward five years into the future, then determining the actions required to make the vision a reality.
  4. Each team member has an annual client acquisition goal. Revenue is important but it’s a historical indicator. New clients added is the team’s forward indicator.
  5. Elite teams thrive on affluent client loyalty. Other than death or extenuating circumstances, elite wealth management teams rarely lose an affluent client.
  6. Every member of these teams is committed to a Ritz-Carlton level of service. This means personalizing every client interaction and showing that you care.
  7. There is a clear client-centric focus: from financial advice, to personal service, to assisting with personal matters within a client’s family.
  8. Elite teams offer expanded categories of financial services. Much like a family physician, these teams serve as the general practitioner of a client’s finances.
  9. Team members have clear roles and responsibilities. They support one another, but everyone understands their specific role and area of responsibility.
  10. With a strong team leader setting the example, elite teams embody a strong work ethic. Slackers don’t last on an elite team, everyone pulls their weight.
  11. From weekly team meetings to formal performance reviews, every team member is accountable to the team.
  12. Creating an enjoyable working environment not only boosts morale, but it also improves performance. Elite teams enjoy their work.
  13. An open-door policy allows every voice to be heard. Problems are resolved quickly, and issues are addressed before they become serious.
  14. Trust among team members is essential for high performance; team members who break this bond are career-counseled off the team.
  15. Elite teams are committed to ongoing improvement. They are always looking to get better at their craft.

All the above require the effort of every member of a team. The team leader sets the standard, and all the other truths follow. Less than 20% of wealth management teams are at the top of their game—and those have virtually no competition.

Matt Oechsli is author of How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing, and Retaining Affluent


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