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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.
Succeeding in the industry has its challenges. Investment services firm SEI and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) presented 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.
Evelyn M. Zohlen, president of the FPA, 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 professional associations such as the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), you can find an advisor who is thinking about succession planning and is interested in selling their practice.
For example, 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 provide each other with referral business and collaborate to build a client base that is mutually beneficial and offers the client a more unified financial planning experience.
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 expert on benefits and investing in the company’s 401(k) plan.
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 for earning trust and building your brand, which can lead to more business.
Leverage social media by posting videos on relevant topics, such as whether to take a company pension as a lump sum payment or as an annuity. Post your videos on LinkedIn, YouTube and your company website. By posting online on a regular basis, you can build a following and establish yourself as 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 to prospective clients what they can expect when they hire him. The financial press consistently quotes him at no charge. And as an FPA member, he has access to media training. Another benefit of FPA membership: The financial press frequently features him as a subject matter expert in investment banking.
Hosting a Q&A with an expert can also be a great brand-building strategy. Invite people in your network to attend. This can be done at little cost, especially if done through Zoom or another virtual platform.
Try focusing on complex topics such as the best Social Security claiming strategies, and 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 ensuring an awesome client experience. Build systems at your firm to streamline processes.
I have automated financial planning at multiple advisory firms by building processes, leveraging technology and simplifying tasks. This approach facilitates a turnkey client-focused platform — adding customization when needed — to build a client base. This directly translates to increases in revenue, which leads 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 if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
A business coach can help you build your brand. One of the many things I learned from a business coach 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 adequate time with clients and prospects who aligned with our goals and service model. This process also ensured that responsibilities were delegated to optimize each person’s strengths.
1 Cited Research Article
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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