As a financial professional, you are in the knowledge-for-profit business. In other words, you think for a living. You aren't selling investments, you are promoting the promise of the future. This can be an abstract business with so many factors out of your control. So it's important to constantly remind yourself of what is truly proprietary and of value in your business. After all, you don't have a job where you trade your time for money, you are building a business with real equity value that should be increasing each and every year.
Your most valuable assets are as follows:
- Your client relationships and everything you know about your clients
- Your business procedures and best practices
- Your time and how you allocate it
Now you might be asking why I haven't made reference to your investment acumen and asset management skills. While I will never trivialize what you know about investing, this business is becoming more commoditized every day and there are forces at work that are constantly emphasizing what you cost rather than what you are worth. Truth be told, what you know about investing is not proprietary. It's a given that you have a solid plan and approach. It's expected. But as you have probably seen, there is little correlation between how much someone knows about investing and how successful they will ultimately be.
What Separates the Best From the Rest?
The most effective advisors don't ask clients to buy investments. They ask them to buy-into a meaningful relationship and in the process these advisors fixate on the lifetime value of a client relationship rather than on transactions. Loyalty, empowerment and refer-ability are built on a foundation of trust. And building trust is a process. It's by design, not by chance. An important component to the trust process is client chemistry. Top advisors strive to be interested rather than interesting. They get to know everything they can about their clients. As you know, the more a client trusts you, the more they reveal to you about themselves. Now you probably know a lot about your clients. Where do you and your team members store that incredibly valuable and proprietary information? In your heads? If it's in your heads, it isn't an asset nor is it an intellectual property.
Done is Better Than Perfect!
You might be saying to yourself, "I get it. But HOW do I do all of this?" You need an Operating Playbook. Some elite advisory teams have an actual procedures manual - a complete playbook consisting of a full array of documented procedures. Updates can be made and this binder and there is no mystery in terms of how predictable, sustainable and duplicable processes are deployed. Other top teams are using software, specifically a XRM (eXtended Relationship Manager) which is a CRM integrated with a full suite of best practices. Either way, when you document all of your daily activities, getting them out of your head and creating an intellectual property you improve your productivity as well as the equity value of your business.
The Process of Client Confidence
There is an entrepreneurial saying that suggests that "You must work ON your business, not in it." Being a good financial advisor goes above and beyond the returns you post. To keep clients for life, you must create a SWAN environment. Your job is to ensure your clients Sleep Well At Night. A sound investment plan along with consistent best practices will create this environment enabling you to fully maximize your client relationships, make your business more efficient and put time on your side.
Your business will serve your life rather than the other way around and when the time comes for you to sell your business, the value will be dramatically higher. It's time to squeeze more juice out of the orange.
Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson