Smooth Move:
Mastering the Transition When Switching Financial Advisor Firms
Includes Q&A
Tuesday, April 23rd at 12 pm ET
Considering a Move to a New Financial Advisor Firm? This webinar is designed for financial advisors contemplating or navigating a firm transition. Industry veteran Duncan MacPherson, CEO of Pareto Systems, will guide you through the key considerations for a smooth transition for you and your clients.
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Proven Strategies Blog

2024-02-05 • 1 min video

Discovering the unexpected, a council meeting unveils diverse client perceptions about their status as "ideal clients,' sparking a transformative dialogue. This revelation marks a pivotal moment, emphasizing the crucial need for advisors to articulate the value of their enduring client relationships more clearly.

This is an excerpt from episode 53 of the "Always On with Duncan MacPherson' podcast featuring Mike "Cy" Cajthaml Jr., Pareto Systems Business Advisor.

Stream the new episode of Always On here:

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2024-02-02 • 20 second read

Ever tried to see your business through your client's eyes?

Once you make an effort to know how your clients perceive your value, you may be surprised!

You may even get different answers from different clients.

Learn how to align your brand image with client perception and elevate your value using client advisory councils in the newest episode of the Always On Podcast:

2024-01-31 • 1 min video
  • What's next with AI for financial advisors?
  • What are we expecting to see in 2024 and beyond?
  • How will it change the way advisors serve and connect with clients?

These are all crucial questions you should be asking right now!

Listen to this short clip from the Always On podcast, where guest Craig Kirkpatrick shares his thoughts on the future of AI for financial services.

Stream the full episode here:

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2024-01-30 • 2 minute read

Developing an effective On-Boarding Process

My favorite topics for these articles stem from conversations I have with our coaching staff at Pareto Systems who share success stories from the field with me. Our coaching staff and I often have "Proof that it Works" conversations where they pass along feedback in terms of the impact our strategies are having on an advisor?s business.
Recently, I heard an interesting example about the importance of the New Client Process. As you may know, this process is the series of steps that take place from the moment you get a referral phone call right up to the point where you officially welcome a new person as a client, and everything in between. Many like to call this the On-boarding process.

At a glance, the New Client Process has five distinct steps:

  1. The Pre-Appointment Phase
  2. The 1st Appointment (or Fit Appointment)
  3. The Second Appointment
  4. The Third Appointment
  5. And finally, the New Client Welcome

Now, some might say that this seems like an awful lot of steps, and they would be right, but these are all necessary steps. This process is extremely attractive to potential clients, and more often than not, as a result of going through this process, the potential client ends up trying to convince the advisor to take them on as a client! On a regular basis, we also see advisors get referrals from someone shortly after bringing them on as a client! We see it happen all the time.

The coach who shared this story with me works with two brothers who have a successful practice in California. Both use this very same New Client Process, and they are enjoying a lot of success from this process and from their terrific implementation of it.

One of the brothers recently met with a prospective client, a wealthy lady who had north of $1,000,000 in investable assets.

As they sat down, and as the advisor pulled out the agenda to start the meeting, the lady announced the following: "I want you to know that I am interviewing different advisors"

The advisor, in a cool and collected way, replied: "Well, I would be surprised if you weren't. The reality is that we are interviewing you today as well. It is very important to our practice that my brother and I only take on clients that are a good fit."

I only wish that I was in the room at the time when they were having this meeting, so I could have seen how the dynamic changed after the advisor replied in this fashion. He didn't try to sell harder, or any of that nonsense, he simply stated the truth, which was that there were two decisions being made that day, both hers and his.

The wealthy lady became a client. It turned out that she had interviewed four different advisors in total, and the third such interview was with our client. It was just a few days later when a thank-you card arrived at the advisor's office. It was from the very same lady, and in the card, she thanked them for deciding to take her on as a client. What a change in attitude from that first meeting, and it all had to do with the attractiveness of the New Client Process, and the skill of our client in implementing it.

The woman wasn't done yet though. Shortly after the thank-you card arrived, my client received an email from her. She had copied her CPA on the email, and the message said: "You guys have to meet each other." The advisor gave the CPA a call, and they got together for lunch.

Over the lunch, my client learned that the CPA had a huge operation with 24 staff, and they specialized in ultra high-net worth types; the richest of the rich.
The advisor and his brother specialize in clientele in the 1-10 million range. The advisor candidly told the CPA this, and also told him that the ultra high-net worth types weren't really their niche.

Ironically, it turns out that the 1-10 million range wasn't the CPA's niche either. His focus was going to remain on the ultra high-net worth types, and he and my client are now discussing the CPA referring over business in the 1-10 million range to my clients as it appears. He regularly receives those types of referrals, but isn't really interested in that kind of business. The advisors certainly are though!

The next step is to show the CPA the highlights of the New Client Process, so that when the CPA does refer someone, he can take great confidence on that they will be well looked after, and how it will be done.

The bottom line is this. When you apply stewardship over salesmanship with a prospective client, you not only contrast yourself favorably to other advisors, you are also positioning yourself for advocacy with that person immediately. And then the domino effect begins.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson


2024-01-29 • 1 min video

Unveil the transformative power of turning resolutions into tangible results. In this video, we explore the critical bridge from resolution to execution, emphasizing not only the productivity gains but also the profound personal growth that comes from reshaping your reality. 

Click here to watch full video on YouTube

2024-01-26 • 1 minute video

Using AI to create content? Don't forget compliance!

As financial advisors, you may be using ChatGPT or other AI tools to write and distribute content to clients.

But this short clip from the most recent episode of Always On contains an important caveat to keep in mind. 

Stream the full episode here:

2024-01-25 • 3 minute video

Unveil the transformative power of turning resolutions into tangible results. In this video, we explore the critical bridge from resolution to execution, emphasizing not only the productivity gains but also the profound personal growth that comes from reshaping your reality.

For more on this, and other actionable best practices, download Chapter 1 of Duncan MacPherson's book "The Blue Square Method" today at

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2024-01-24 • 20 second read

Is prompting AI a skill? It sure is!

To get the best results, it is important to ask questions a certain way and use effective prompts.

To learn more about strategically deploying AI in your business as a financial advisor, check out the latest release of Always On, featuring Craig Kirkpatrick.

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2024-01-23 • 2 minute read

In our on-going consulting work, we find more and more financial advisors want to position themselves to successfully: 

  • Buy a practice
  • Sell a practice
  • Bring on a protege'

From a demographic perspective, there are three distinct groups among the many financial advisors we talk to on a regular basis. There are the 50+ advisors who are looking down the road at the eventual sale of their business. These advisors have been in the business a long time, achieved a high level of success, and are now three to five years out from transitioning to the next chapter in their lives.

Then there are the 30+ advisors who are extremely ambitious and want to light the after burner in terms of growing their respective business. But these advisors don't want to rely solely on organic growth, they want to acquire a business (or two), ideally from someone who has patiently and methodically built a durable business and is looking to exit.

And then there are the advisors somewhere in between who want to remain in the business but have a unique view on succession. Rather than sell, they want to leverage their momentum and plan for the future by grooming an associate (often a 2nd generation) or partner with an advisor (be it a junior or equal). While there is no specific timetable for succession, this advisor gets to create some scale, liberate themselves to focus solely on top clients, and create options for the future in the meantime.

Remove the Mystery

In each scenario, the key is to multiply the outcome and there are specific steps that can be taken to add precision to the process and predictability to the results.

Partnering is Not for Everyone

In the traditional partnering scenario there are countless examples of success, mediocrity and failure. The shining examples stem from an emphasis on fit and process. The also-rans stem from the fact there were few if any true synergies and the only real alignment of interest was to enhance the payout until the older partner transitioned out of the business. And the worst examples of a $500k advisor partnering with another $500k advisor and in time the combined revenue became $800k stem from a lack of preparation, incompatibility, and poor execution. 1+1 = 1.5 and with it came an increase in overhead and hassle factor. 

In the case of partnering with a junior advisor, especially someone related to the lead advisor, it is essential that the protege' understand:

  • Success goes beyond rates of return. Success is as much about relationship management as it is about asset management.
  • Run the business like a business. Following predetermined and documented procedures creates a consistent client experience ensuring the conversion of clients to advocates.
  • There are no free rides. The junior advisor needs to generate meaningful and measurable client acquisition and business development results from their own efforts.

Too many mentors leave the protege' to their own devices to figure things out. You can't play to maverick talent, you have to play to process. The most successful advisors to partner with a 2nd generation or junior created essentially a franchise-ready environment. This not only freed the mentor to focus on the top 20% of clients knowing that the 80% were well taken care of by the protege', it created an upgrade feel for clients rather than a hand-off resulting in uncovering untapped new business along the way.

There are countless examples of successes, anticlimactic outcomes and outright failures in the acquisition world too - both for the buyer and the seller. The old model simply came down to the buyer focusing on what the business would cost, while the seller was fixated on what the business was worth with very little emphasis placed on the key intrinsic and proprietary assets. There was also very little thought applied to deploying a turnkey and proven process to communicate with the clients involved prior to, during, and after the transition. 

Don't Sell a Book, Sell a Business

Many advisors who buy or sell a financial services practice are really only buying a book of business, not an actual business. There are several Key Performance Indicators that go beyond trailing 12. So what is the difference between a 1X transaction and a 2X or better multiplied transaction? Well clearly one of the most important issues is the quality of the client relationships. That has been proven to be just as important as the quality of their assets. How loyal are the clients based on how they have been served to this point of the relationship? Have they simply bought investments, or are they bought-in to a professional process? Metrics on empowerment, referrals, demographics and commonalities, commissions vs. fees and several other issues are key as well.

Put Time on Your Side

The bottom line is this, whether you plan to buy or sell a business in the future, it is essential that you get out-front and be well prepared to multiply the value of the asset and make the outcome as smooth and predictable as possible. Deploying a process demystifies the experience and ensures there is minimal opportunity leakage and that you don't squander your time.

There are More Sellers Than Buyers

As a seller, when you tighten up your business through organization and structure as well as essential best practices, you unlock hidden value in your business that differentiates you from all the others with similar aspirations. In 12 months or less you can execute a panoramic practice management process that a suitor will recognize as extremely valuable. Remember what a buyer wants; only pleasant surprises. They want the transition to be smooth, and the integration into their core business to be virtually effortless. 

Acquire a Real Asset, Not Just a Collection of Assets

As a buyer, there are so many tangible and intangible issues to address in your due-diligence process. The key is to look for a business that has been built on a foundation of predictable, sustainable and duplicable processes especially as it relates to service and relationship management. Again, the quality of the relationships driven by the expectations they have and the experience they've received will have a profound impact on relationship durability and untapped potential going forward.

Many buyers in the past have acquired sketchy books thinking there was a vein of gold or all kinds of low hanging fruit just waiting to be uncovered. As a result, the buyer was fixated on the price of the acquisition rather than the quality of the asset resulting in an outcome that spiraled downward. With the benefit of hindsight came a lot of regret.

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty - Confucius 

Remember, quality relationships last long after you paid for them. So get clarity on the issues that will impact your transaction and get organized with a plan and process. As a potential seller, the longer you wait and the less prepared you are, the less value you will get from your asset. As buyer, the longer you wait and less prepared you are, the more revenue and momentum you will forgo. In both cases, the dollars you make will be lower, but also in both cases the hassle factor and frustration will be higher. Preparation will help you squeeze more juice out of the orange.

Continued Success!


2024-01-22 • 2 minute video

Explore the evolution of AI in finance from testing to widespread adoption. Delve into the industry's approach to integrating AI with compliance protocols, ensuring every step from content creation to client communication aligns with FINRA and SEC guidelines.

This is an excerpt from episode 52 of the 'Always On with Duncan MacPherson' podcast featuring Craig Kirkpatrick, founder of Act-Three Consulting.

Stream the new episode of Always On by clicking here:

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