Los Angeles: "We have a good service model, but our challenge is making certain that we follow it," explained Sal as I sat with his entire team in a plush conference room. His sentence was completed by Ruth, one of the team's indispensible assistants. "It's more about segmenting our client base and determining who is getting what, than simply following a service model," she said.
Both Sal and Ruth were touching a raw nerve for many advisors regarding practice management. For the longest time, advisors were taught that the more clients they were able to acquire, the greater their production. Yet for the past decade financial advisors have listened to lectures about client segmentation, service models, and bandwidth - and now all are part of the core of today's modern advisor.
Why? Because first-rate practice management is not an option, it is a requirement for working with today's affluent investor. No matter how successful an advisor or team was in yesterday's world (Sal's team has more than $2 billion in assets), it is essential that in today's world they approach their business as a business. Whenever I'm asked about this, I put it into the context of having your practice functioning like a well-run modern dental office.
This is the non-glamour arena of operations, administration, and support. It is where written procedures, clarity of roles, and team oversight are at work. In the model below, you might find it helpful to see how every aspect of the practice management component is related to each other and to the leadership, business development, wealth management, and affluent loyalty components of our elite advisor model.
As I explained to Sal, Ruth and the rest of the team, first-rate practice management requires strong team leadership, which in turn requires delegation, which creates more time for strengthening client relationships, and frees Sal and his partner to engage in high-impact rainmaking activities.
Sal immediately recognized the importance of first-class practice management, the importance of more effective delegation, and the direct connection to his team being able to proactively acquire more affluent clients. The commitment they made at this meeting was that within two weeks, Ruth and the other support personnel were to segment the clients into two categories, Platinum and Gold, and establish written systems and procedures for six areas (listed in order of priority as highlighted by our research). Because they had yet to fully segment their client base, I suggested they think in terms of only their top clients, those who would be classified as Platinum.
The Platinum Service model served as the context in which they were to create their systems and procedures. Within this context they needed to establish written procedures in order to provide structure necessary for consistency and attention to detail. Thus they will have established a margin for error and created a benchmark for ongoing improvement. In essence, this is the due diligence that leads to the creation of your practice's procedures manual.
Establishing Systems and Procedures for…
1. Meeting compliance requirements.
2. Delivering Ritz Carlton quality service with a FedEx level of efficiency (Platinum & Gold service models).
3. Providing operations and administrative support.
4. Scheduling and conducting client review meetings (Platinum & Gold scheduling).
5. Launching a new affluent client relationship.
6. Planning and conducting weekly team meetings.
I know, this is work -- which is why so many advisors continue to procrastinate on this component. Sal has been a top producer for years, with Ruth working at his side for the past 15 years. Yet now they recognize that in order to capitalize on the affluent opportunities created by this financial crisis, first-rate practice management is a requirement, not an option, for their team.
Incidentally, while Ruth and her support team accepted the tasks I've outlined above, Sal and his partner signed up to attend our upcoming Rainmaker Weekend. Although they both fancied themselves as skilled in the sales process, they recognized the need for brushing up their affluent sales skills relative to today's environment.
Since developing a service model is the context within which to develop your written systems and procedures, I thought it might be helpful to offer a template for both Platinum and Gold service models. For a FREE copy of our Client Service Model Template please visit our Download Center.
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.
If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected]