A Swift Kick, and a Helping Hand

Last weekend, I had a discussion with an advisor in a very successful firm. I usually avoid “shop talk” during the weekend, but the conversation was very interesting and as the wine was flowing, I kept asking questions and we dove deeper in to her business issues. It wasn’t till later that my wife suggested (and by suggested, I mean kicked me under the table) that our conversation was not Saturday-night-appropriate.

What I found interesting is that this firm, over $500 million in AUM with a long-term planning background, a great investment platform, and a solid business-focused leadership team was not tracking to its 2012 goals. What was fascinating is that their marketing plan was working (bringing in prospects), they were getting referrals and yet they were not closing business at the pace they were expecting or had achieved in the past.

I wanted to finish the conversation, and will do so soon, but it occurred to me that many of you are having the same issues. How about a group effort to solve some of them?

Here’s a list of my follow-up questions — would you add any? (You can post in the blog or in any of the LinkedIn groups; I will put them together in a follow-up post.)

• I read a quote last year that has really stuck with me: “The fundamental DNA of the investor has changed over the last four years.” What have you done to change your value proposition to meet the needs of the changing prospect?

• If you have had prospects say “no,” have you done exit interviews to find out why? Have you asked where they are going for advice?

• Have you lost touch with your niche? What materials, research, technology and tools do you use to keep up with your target market? What is on their minds right now?

• What does your office say about you? Is CNBC on the screen in your waiting room, Registered Rep on the coffee table and a Dalbar (or Ibbotson) chart on the conference room wall? In other words, do you come off as an investment person or planner? And is that consistent with your value proposition? (By the way, take a real look at this. Get an outside opinion if you think you may be too biased.)

• How do you engage with the prospect prior to the meeting? Do you have a conversation away from the office in a neutral location or is their first experience with you in your office?

• Are you acknowledging the volatility of the last few years or showing prospects how you performed? How do you address performance of the markets?

• Are you having “dream” conversations or real conversations about expectations for the future? Which tactic worked for you and is it working now?

• After Madoff and other ponzi schemes, how do you address security of an investor’s assets?

As I did this weekend, I could go on way too long with questions. Sooner or later, someone will kick me again.

In the spirit of social media and networking, let’s all try to take a stab at this. Now it is your turn. Leave a comment on this blog post on Practically speaking, send me an email with your questions at Janderson@seic.com or post a message in a LinkedIn group. How can we help this advisor? What questions would you ask?

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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