Three States, One Story: How Advisors Can Explain Going Advice-based to Clients

May 20, 2014

It could be déjà vu, but it seems that over the last few weeks, I keep having the same conversation. Case in point: Three weeks ago, I was in Ohio with two separate groups of advisors discussing how to approach existing old 12(b) 1 clients and going fee-based; two weeks ago, I was helping a co-worker prepare for a presentation for advisors who were doing fee-based for new clients, but didn’t know how to approach the rest of their book. And last week, I spoke to a small group via a webinar on transitioning from a commission-based to a fee-based business.

I have been having the “fee-based” discussion for almost 20 years, but lately this conversation is different. The difference in these conversations weren’t the why – they all admitted that they were already doing fee based on their new clients. It was the how… as in “How do I go back to my existing clients and explain my new business model?”

And if you know me, you know my motto is that if I hear something once, three people are thinking it. If you hear it multiple times, you better address it to a larger audience.

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Changing the Conversation- A Different Way To Look at the ROI of Social Media

May 15, 2014

There is no doubt that figuring out your ROI (Return on Investment) is an important factor in determining where to put marketing dollars. If you’re not getting tangible, direct results immediately, why spend the money on it, right? Well, not really. As marketers struggle to wrap their heads around how and where social media plays a role in marketing efforts and budgets, there is a shift to start analyzing what really matters for long-term success: the value of the relationships acquired and maintained through social media.

Instead of trying to calculate the exact dollar amount acquired from each new client that you gained solely from social media compared to the dollar amount spent on social media assets (technology, staff, time), we are suggesting that you change the conversation.

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Two Critical Benchmarking Mistakes Advisors Make – And How to Avoid Them

May 13, 2014

In a recent “Shorts” post, I referenced that PriceMetrix updated its “State of Retail Wealth Management” whitepaper for 2014. The report aggregates data representing 7 million retail investors, 500 million transactions, and over $3.5 trillion in investment assets, so I think it is one of the most comprehensives studies out there. As with the previous three editions, I was not disappointed with their research and insight and highly recommend you download a copy.

As I read the report, a couple of statistics jumped out at me…

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Succession Q&A: Why “When” is Now

Last week’s webinar on succession planning for advisors (with David Grau from FP Transitions) generated more calls and emails than any webinar in recent memory. I can’t tell you how many advisors called me, saying they realized that they had a practice instead of a business, and that attrition was not a good exit strategy. (You should listen to the replay if you don’t know what I am taking about.)

Because the webinar ran long, we didn’t have time to answer all of the questions that we received. I recently asked David if he could take a few minutes to answer some of our listeners’ the questions here. Of course, David was happy to help.

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You Built it, but They’re Not Coming: How Advisors Can Market Their Social Media Presence

May 1, 2014

All too often, there is a real focus on the launch of your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles/pages, but not as much on how to build – and grow – your following. And for social media in particular, having a community to interact with is key to doing that. So how do you build your connections?

Here’s a checklist of suggested marketing activities to help build your social media presence:

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Shorts: On Succession, Book Reports, and Being Back in the Saddle

Apr 29, 2014

“Shorts” is a newer feature on Practically Speaking, featuring items that I thought were important, but didn’t warrant a full article. View today’s issue with interesting statistics from this week’s social media webinar, insights from the newest PriceMetrix its State of the Retail Wealth Management report and my experience with last weekend’s two-day DC to Gettysburg bike ride / next week’s 10-mile Broad Street Run.

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KISS Your CRM

Apr 24, 2014

I’ve been in product development for (too) many years, and maybe the most effective principle I have learned along the way is “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” or KISS. When I mentioned the maxim to one development team, I was asked, “Do you mean the band?” I found this question insightful, as the band clearly lives by the mandate.

KISS means that a system works most effectively if it is kept simple — and complexity should be avoided, as it confuses people. Versions of the phrase have been used in many different ways in popular culture. A famous one, “It’s the economy, stupid,” was attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign. Apparently, people like to disguise the fact they have just insulted someone by cloaking it with a cute acronym!

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The Secret to a Successful Succession Plan

Apr 22, 2014

One of the benefits of my job is the ability to meet with many successful advisors. I get to ask them about growth goals, client service initiatives, and how they manage running their businesses. It’s also not unusual for advisors to host their clients at SEI’s headquarters, so I get the benefit of talking to a diverse set of end clients, as well.

Often, I am brought in as the “guy with the gray hair” from the management team to expound on the 20-year history of the SEI Advisor Network. But more often than not, I get to talk to their clients about their goals and challenges regarding what they want to do with their wealth. Recently, I had a very interesting discussion with an advisor’s client. We had a fascinating discussion about being a small business owner – one that’s relevant to all of us and one that I felt I had to share.

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Discipline and Efficiency Over Bravado

People love to talk about investments. Investors share country club talk about the hot stock their advisor bought them that earned a huge return, and advisors enjoy touting timing the market or asset classes for a big win. Everyone loves a good story, but the truth of the matter is that statistically, there is a much greater chance that you will lose more often than you will win making those types of decisions. As my high school football coach used to say, you don’t win football games with a last-second Hail Mary pass; you win football games by blocking and tackling.

As usual, I have been on the road quite a bit in the last month and have found that some advisors have been too focused on Hail Mary’s, instead of the fundamentals of good investing. With this in mind, there are two foundational things advisors can do in an effort to add value to client portfolios:

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Your Morning Cup of Links: Rockers, Millennials, and Roadside Attractions

Apr 15, 2014

It is spring break. For our family, spring break means tightly packing the family into a small hotel room. My wife and I are early risers, so it is almost funny as we try to plan out how we’ll read, check email, and get dressed without waking our sons every morning. (They need the sleep and we need the quiet time.) I have taken to reading by the warm glow of the cell phone light. My wife thinks the balcony (even at 45°) is the place to be. The good news is that I get to catch up with some of my reading.

As you read this Cup of Links, please know that I have already said, “I’ll turn this car around and head home right now, young man!” at least three times…

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