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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4 percent growth rate over the next decade for the financial advisor industry. Baby boomers are approaching retirement, and they will need the guidance of qualified financial professionals at this time in their lives.
However, succeeding in the industry has its challenges. Investment services firm SEI and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) presented a the results of a survey to attendees at the 2019 FPA Annual Conference that warned of the potential consequences for advisors who fail to adapt to changing consumer demands.
A finding that stood out to the researchers was the response to a question about the dynamics of client experience and processes over the next five to 10 years. Only 22 percent of participants said they expect to have to change their processes in the future.
President of FPA Evelyn M. Zohlen said in an October 2019 statement, “Too many financial planners are ignoring today’s shifting consumer demands and neglecting planning for the future at a time when these topics demand our attention. Opportunities exist, and those who can bridge the gap between automation and human connection will be among tomorrow’s winners.”
With a proper start — and a little help from seasoned advisors — you can set yourself up for long-term success.
Don’t Start from Scratch
Not everyone is skilled at building a client base from the ground up, and this can take several years to accomplish to be able to just support yourself. There are a few ways to get around this.
1. Find an Advisor Who Is Looking to Retire
The average age of an advisor is early to mid-50s. Cerulli Associates found that one-third of advisors are expected to retire over the next 10 years.
Through the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), along with other professional associations, you can find an advisor who is thinking about succession planning and is interested in selling their practice.
I am currently consulting with an advisor who has worked for a firm for less than 10 years and is in the process of buying out the practice over nine years.
2. Network with Centers of Influence
Certified public accountants (CPAs) are generally well regarded by their clients. Develop a rapport with a CPA or another respected financial professional, such as an estate planning attorney, mortgage broker or insurance agent.
You can refer each other business and build a client base that is both collaborative and mutually beneficial for a client.
3. Join Forces with a Former Employer
One of my former employers worked for a local Fortune 500 energy company. He maintained a network of relationships from this company and soon became the go-to person regarding benefits and how to invest in the company’s 401(k).
This led to a continuous stream of referrals from existing clients. As a result, he’s developed a niche, specializing in soon to be retirees, company stock concentration and overall asset allocation.
The adage “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it” also applies to building a base of clients. The method of communicating your message is especially important to build trust and your brand, which can lead to more business.
Leverage social media by posting videos on topics such as, “Should you take a company pension as a lump sum payment or as an annuity?” Post this video on LinkedIn, YouTube and your company website via a blog. By posting online on a regular basis, you can build a following and be perceived to be an expert.
Take, for example, a career changer I met recently. He had been an investment banker on Wall Street for several years before he transitioned to his own financial advisory practice.
As an enrolled agent, he routinely posts videos on tax planning and sample financial plans, demonstrating what prospective clients can expect when they hire him. The financial press consistently quotes him at no charge. As an FPA member, he has access to media training and is featured in the financial press as a subject matter expert in investment banking, a benefit of a Financial Planning Association membership.
Another great way to build your brand is to host a Q&A with an expert and invite people in your network to attend. This can be done at little cost, especially if done virtually through Zoom or another virtual platform. Try focusing on complex topics such as the best Social Security claiming strategies.
You can request a speaker from the Social Security Administration to present information on its programs and benefits.
You Build It, They Will Come
Differentiate yourself from other advisors by having an awesome client experience. Build systems and processes at your firm to ensure nothing gets missed.
I have automated the financial planning process at multiple advisory firms by building processes, leveraging technology and streamlining tasks. With this approach, we were able to have a turnkey client focused platform — adding customization when needed — to build our client base. This directly translated to increases in revenue, which then led to increases in referrals without expending resources toward marketing.
Investing in a business coach can also help you discover ways to stand out. A coach can help you clarify your business goals, find a niche market, create a business plan and hold yourself accountable.
I have been involved in several coaching programs, and it can be a transformative experience but only if you can commit to putting in the time and effort.
A business coach can help you build your brand. One of the many things I learned was to have all communication lead to your website.
In one coaching session, the coach had us write down all the services we provide and how many hours we work in a week to ensure we had been spending the time seeing clients/prospects who fit our goals and service model. This process also ensured a delegation of duties when possible, so everyone is doing what they are best at.
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- SEI. (2019, October 17). Financial Planners at Risk for Meeting Investors’ Future Demands, New Research from FPA and SEI Reveals. Retrieved from https://seic.com/newsroom/financial-planners-risk-meeting-investors-future-demands-new-research-fpa-and-sei-reveals