Techno-Advisor: The Mechanics of Good Service


If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know that each year I participate in an annual 110-mile charity bike ride. We ride from Arlington Cemetery in D.C. to the fields of Gettysburg in PA. We ride with adaptive veterans (not for them) so it is quite moving and inspirational, and I am proud to be participating for my 5th year.  The ride is in late April so we are knee deep in organizing, planning logistics, adding riders and fundraising.  I’d like to share a recent conversation with a team member that is so relative to our business that advisors (or frankly any small business owner) needs to hear.

Buying a bike or getting advice: it’s really the same thing

Last week I was talking with a coworker whom I had recruited to join the team.  We were chatting about what type of bike each of us owned and more importantly, where we got them.  Not being a true “biker,” I bought mine at a bike company-owned store.  I got, what I thought, was a great deal for a bike that I truly ride only once a year and their service seemed good.  It was a pretty easy transaction.

My better-prepared colleague said that he has purchased more than one bike over the years at a small mom-and-pop bike store close by our SEI headquarters. He said he paid fair prices and he loves the small place where they all know his name.  He said the mechanic has been there for years and does a great job… when he can get to it.  However, that was the key: when he can get to it. As an example, my colleague said that last summer, as he was getting ready for a big ride, his bike needed service and the mom-and-pop shop told him it would be two weeks before it could be done. Pressed for time, he took his bike to the place where I bought mine and it was ready in three days (actually a day before they promised).

Earn – and keep – their loyalty

For my colleague, this is a challenge:  A great relationship, fair pricing but when something comes up, the small shop didn’t have the systems in place to satisfy a loyal customer. When pressed, my friend actually said that he recommends that company-owned store, as he knows the experience will be better and more consistent.

Think about that for a minute and compare your business to that mom-and-pop store. I would bet that you can see yourself – solid value, great relationships and good products – but do your processes and procedures run as smoothly as you would like?  Are systems in place to keep your clients from looking at the bigger firms?  What happens when your clients have a request or need something – is your office ready?

Mechanize the inside/Customize the outside

The challenge for the small bike shop and most advisors’ businesses is combining proven processes and automation with the personal, high touch feel of the small firm. But how does a firm mechanize the inside while customizing the outside?  The answer is to become a techno-advisor and to practice client-centric co-planning. This is what we call planning 2.0, and it involves more collaboration with your clients (like the  mom-and-pop shop) and a smoother, smarter front office (like a big company).

Techno-Advisor: The mechanics of good service Click To Tweet

Techno-advisor: Co-planning for the best of both worlds

Last week Raef Lee and I hosted a webinar that provided a sneak peek at a new white paper.  We discussed how co-planning emphasizes better client engagement with customized approaches — in a scalable way.  We are calling the paper – “The Next Wave of Advice Management.  How client-centric co-planning creates a personalized experience with scale.”

In the webinar (and in the upcoming paper) we look at topics such as:

  • The evolution of advice
  • The future is already here
    • How techno-advisors and clients collaborate
    • A smarter front office with more satisfied clients
    • Financial planning 2.0
  • The glue of advice management: A co-planning process
  • A roadmap to an advice management business model

Can’t wait for the paper? Download the recording and slides from the webinar to see how techno-advisors are streamlining their practices.  Maybe you’ll listen while on a stationary bike and think of me on the 110 mile ride.

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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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