Strategy 6: Build & Manage Your Professional Network

 Resources

As we saw in Strategy 5: Nail the Wealthy Client Experience,

your ability to address key financial issues beyond investment management is essential to delivering the complete wealth management process. Affluent clients want more than just a one-time financial plan that rapidly goes out of date. They want a process that helps them make smarter decisions about all of their financial issues as they move forward throughout their lives.

To provide this advanced planning—the AP in the wealth management formula—you need help. Contrary to what some financial planning groups are still teaching, you simply do not need to know everything about how to address advanced planning issues. In fact, no one person can be an expert in the entire range of advanced planning needs and solutions.

Instead, you will build a network of professionals—authorities who have deep knowledge across the range of these specialties. If you are like many advisors we have coached, you will find that your professional network represents your biggest breakthrough in being able to serve the affluent extremely well and continue to move upmarket.

Your professional network will support you beginning with your first Regular Progress Meeting with each client by assisting you in the creation of the advanced plan. As the client’s needs change over time, your network will be there to offer modified or additional solutions. (See Exhibit 6.1.)

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Build & Manage Your Professional Network Audio

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Build & Manage Your Professional Network Transcript

Strategy 6 Contents

1. Why You Need a Professional Network 

2. The Right Professionals for Your Network

3. Define Ideal Professional Network Members

4. Identifying Candidates

5. The Advisor Discovery Meeting

6. Selecting The Right Professionals

7. The Professional Network Meeting

In Strategy 6: Build and Manage Your Professional Network, you will undertake the key actions for creating your advanced planning capabilities:

  • Determining the right types of professional that can effectively address your clients’ advanced planning needs

  • Locating and interviewing specific professionals to assess their suitability for your network

  • Selecting the best candidates and inviting them to join your network

  • Managing your professional network to identify and execute the optimal advanced planning solutions for your clients

With your professional network in place, you will have the ability not only to guarantee the satisfaction of your most valued clients, but also to compete successfully with absolutely any other wealth manager.

Tools

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Ideal Professional Network Member Profile Form

Ideal Professional Network Member Profile Form — A form to document each characteristic of your ideal professional network member.

Advisor Discovery Meeting Emails and Agenda Templates — Templates for the meeting agenda and confirmation and follow-up emails.

Total Advisor Profile Interview Guide — A guide for interviewing professional network candidates.

Total Advisor Profile Samples — Two samples of completed Total Advisor Profile mind maps created in SmartDraw.

Total Advisor Profile Mind Map Templates — Templates for creating Total Advisor Profile mind maps in both Word and MindManager formats.

Mutual Client Email Template — An email template to contact clients’ other professional advisors. This should be reviewed by your compliance professionals before use.

Professional Network Meeting Agenda Template — A template for creating your agendas for your professional network meetings.

Advanced Plan Sample — Sample of an advanced plan created in SmartDraw.

Advanced Plan Templates — Templates for creating advanced plan mind maps in both Word and MindManager formats.

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Advisor Discovery Meeting Emails & Agendas

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Total Advisor Profile Interview Guide

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Total Advisor Profile Interview Samples

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Mutual Client Email Template

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Advanced Plan Sample

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Total Advisor Mind Map Templates 

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Professional Meeting Network Agenda Template

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Advanced Plan Template

1. Why You Need a Professional Network 

A big miscalculation many financial advisors make is thinking that to be considered an expert, they personally must have all or most of the answers. The reality is that no one has all the answers; few people even have most of the answers.

Expertise is not about having all the answers. It’s about being able to find the right answers and help deliver them to clients.

 

You must first identify your clients’ key needs, wants and preferences—which you will uncover during your initial and ongoing discovery.

Second, you must identify and provide the services and products that will address their challenges and help them achieve their most important goals.

And while you do need to stay on top of trends and leading-edge solutions, you need do so only in general terms that will enable you to have broad conversations with clients about proposed solutions. When it comes to actually delivering any solutions that are outside of your direct area of expertise you will turn to the appropriate specialists.

Not only will closely coordinating a team of specialists enable you to deliver advanced solutions to your clients, but it will set you clearly apart from most of your competition. As Exhibit 6.2 shows, nearly all the financial advisors we surveyed have specialists to whom they are comfortable referring their clients. In effect, they know specialists who they think can do a good job for their clients.

But in glaring contrast, fewer than one in five of the financial advisors say they have a well-structured, comprehensive team of specialists. Without this level of coordination, clients can quickly end up with a smorgasbord of strategies and products that don’t make sense or help them achieve their goals.

This means that not only do you need the right professionals, you need to coordinate them effectively to derive the best possible solutions and experience for your clients. You’ll find out how to do both in this strategy.

 Resources

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Why You Need A Professional Audio

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Why You Need a Professional Transcript

2. The Right Professionals for Your Network 

Your choices about the types of advanced planning—and thus the types of professionals you need for your network—revolve around two things: what your affluent clients need today and what might be critical to them moving forward.

As you know, there are dozens of types of wealth management needs spread across the four categories of wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving. With experience, your skill to quickly pinpoint specific wealth management needs and opportunities will grow.

In the meantime, be aware of the following red flags—situations where wealth management solutions are very often called for. Keep in mind that these are but a few of the circumstances where your clients could use wealth management assistance.

  • Estate plans. Do any of your affluent clients have estate plans that are five years old or older? If so, this points to a need for a trusts and estates lawyer on your team.

  • Life insurance issues. Have any of your affluent clients experienced growth in their net worth since they purchased life insurance policies? If so, you may need a life insurance specialist in your network.

  • Charitable inclination. Do any of your clients have a strong philanthropic bent yet currently only do haphazard checkbook giving? A trusts and estates lawyer, and possibly an income tax specialist, may be of assistance here.

  • Business for sale. Are any of your clients planning to sell their businesses in the near future? This could call for the services of a valuation specialist and an investment banker.

  • Concentrated stock positions. Do any of your clients hold concentrated stock positions? This might call for the assistance of a derivatives specialist.

  • High-value artwork. If any clients own valuable artwork, this could call for the services of a valuation specialist and an insurance specialist.

We have found that the great majority of wealth managers are able to address most of their affluent clients’ advanced planning needs with four core network members: themselves as wealth manager, a private client lawyer, an accountant and a life insurance specialist.

You: The Wealth Manager

As the wealth manager, your job is to be the general manager of your network of franchised professionals. The goal of your network is straightforward: to help your clients address their most pressing needs in the four areas of advanced planning.

As the general manager of your network, you have three primary roles:

  • To select qualified professionals for the network

  • To facilitate the network meetings to provide a deep understanding of clients and then to draw out the optimal recommendations for addressing their needs

  • To manage the network over time so that it serves the best interests of both clients and network members

As a wealth manager, you will grow over time to better understand the technical issues and the range of potential recommendations. You will know enough to be able to recognize when there may be an opportunity, but you will always continue to rely on your professional network to positively identify those opportunities. In short, being a technical expert will never be your primary role.

The Private Client Lawyer

The private client lawyer is the key member of the professional network. He or she addresses tax, estate planning and legal needs—all critical areas of concern for solving the challenges of affluent clients.

Specifically, you should typically expect a private client lawyer to provide the following services:

  • Planning services, including these:

    • Estate planning

    • Wealth protection planning

    • Income tax planning

    • Succession planning

    • Business planning for successful entrepreneurs

    • Developing charitable giving programs

  • Administration services (tied to the above planning services)

  • Probate services

  • Guardianship and conservatorship services

Private client lawyers are not the trusts and estates lawyers employed by private banks or life insurance companies. Instead, more often than not, they are partners at high-end boutique firms.

The Accountant

While the private client lawyer will provide a big-picture perspective on tax planning, the accountant typically has much more detailed, day-to-day knowledge of income taxes. He or she should be able to make specific recommendations to mitigate these taxes.

The Life Insurance Specialist

The insurance specialist works closely with the private client lawyer to identify and structure solutions that leverage the entire range of insurance products. You want a true independent—not someone who receives any kind of incentive from a company.

Other Members of The Network

Many wealth managers find that one of the first professionals they need to add beyond the core team is a personal lines insurance specialist—a property-casualty agent who works at the very high end of the market. These professionals can be so important in some cases that some wealth managers make them part of their core teams and even strategic partners.

Most of the other non-core team professionals do not have large client bases; instead, they rely primarily on one-time referrals for their business. For this reason, they generally will not make good strategic partners. This means you will select them purely on their expertise and ability to contribute to your network and not because they offer business development potential.

You may need a credit specialist to evaluate the current loan situation. Very often you can find the appropriate professional at the community level, such as at a community-oriented bank or mortgage lender. You may also need a corporate tax lawyer from time to time, but only to assist clients with a net worth of $100 million or more.

Other specialists that you may need on a one-off basis include a derivatives specialist, who deals with concentrated stock positions; a securities lawyer, who supports the work of the derivatives specialist; an actuary, who is often needed when dealing with certain life insurance and/or retirement plan issues; and a valuation specialist, who may be required to appraise business interests, real estate or collectibles.

This list is only the beginning; depending on the requirements of particular clients, you may need to bring in other types of specialists to address highly specific challenges.

Bear in mind that you need not have established close relationships with every one of these professionals. Instead, you should be able to rely on your core team members—the private client lawyer, accountant and life insurance specialist—to bring in their own specialists as needed. While you will likely have direct relationships with some professionals, especially as you grow as a wealth manager, these will always be secondary to your ties to the private client lawyer, accountant and life insurance specialist.

 Resources

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The Right Professionals for Your Network Audio

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The Right Professionals for Your Network Transcript

3. Define Ideal Professional Network Members

In Strategy 3, you created an ideal client profile to help ensure that you work only with optimal clients for you and your practice. Now you will create a profile to define your ideal professional network member. This profile will guide you as you select the best candidates to support your wealth management process and serve your clients extremely well.

Begin by considering each of the following nine characteristics of professional advisors.

1. The Person

What is this professional like as a person? Things to consider include how long the professional has been in the business, what he or she most enjoys about the work, and personal goals and dreams.

2. Areas of Expertise

What are this professional’s specific areas of expertise? You are bringing professionals into your network in order to help address specific client challenges. You therefore need to determine whether the professional has the requisite skill and know-how.

3. Practice Goals and Objectives

What does this professional aspire to with his or her practice? You are looking for professionals who are motivated to be more financially successful or who are seeking to enhance their lifestyles without decreasing their incomes. You want a professional who will respond to the opportunity that being a part of your network offers.

4. Practice Management

How does this professional run his or her practice? In order to understand how you can best work together, you need to understand how potential network members manage their own practices.

5. Clients

What types of clients does this professional have? How does he or she attract, serve and retain clients? You are looking for professionals with an established track record of not just working with affluent clients, but of serving them very well. In addition, you want there to be at least some overlap between the types of clients he or she serves and the types you serve.

6. Financial Advisors

How does this professional view working with financial advisors? Your network professionals should enjoy working with financial advisors, have a clear understanding of the types of advisors they want to work with and how those relationships can benefit them and their clients.

7. Compensation

What are this professional’s current compensation arrangements? Compensation is the economic glue that will hold your network together, and any professional should be motivated to join your network by the boost in income that it may mean.

 

8. Teamwork

Is this professional willing and happy to work in close coordination with other members of the network? Your goal is to build a close-knit network. Therefore, you want professionals who are open to working closely both with you and with other members of the network.

9. Professional Contacts

Does this professional have contacts that can help continue to build the network? Since one of the best ways to locate additional needed professionals for your network is through existing members of the network, you should find out what a candidate can bring to the table in terms of contacts for such individuals.

Document your Ideal Network Member Profile

With these traits in mind, you will document your ideal professional network member profile, just as you documented your ideal client profile in Strategy 3. Download the profile template from the Tools section of this strategy and then provide brief descriptions of your ideal professional in each of the nine categories. Below is a sample of a completed profile.

 Resources

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Define Ideal Professional Network Members Audio

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Define Ideal Professional Network Members Transcript

4. Identifying Candidates

With your ideal professional network member clearly defined, you are ready to begin gathering the names of professionals who potentially match your ideal. Once you have these names, conduct a brief initial vetting of each professional. You will then reach out to the best candidates to schedule meetings.

Bear in mind that this is not likely to be a one-time process. You should be constantly on the lookout for professional advisors who may offer superior solutions, offer greater networking opportunities or who will make good strategic partners. While you may eventually arrive at a static group of individuals for your professional network, it is unlikely that you will identify the optimal partners from the very beginning.

Seek Out Candidates

There are a number of sources for potential members of your professional network:

  • Financial firms. Consider the resources available from the firms where you already obtain services or products. Some life insurance companies, for example, offer wealth transfer and charitable giving services.

  • Referrals from other financial advisors. Other financial advisors who work with the affluent can often point you in the direction of the expertise you need.

  • Speakers at conferences and authors in the industry press. As you attend industry seminars and conferences and read trade publications and books, take note of those individuals who demonstrate the level of expertise you need.

  • Clients’ other professional advisors. As part of your discovery process, you will already know who your clients’ other professional advisors are. Assuming that clients have had positive experiences with these advisors, they may make good candidates for your network.

  • Introductions from network members. In many cases, the act of lining up one member of your network can set off a chain reaction of introductions to, and relationships with, other specialists. If you are like many financial advisors, you will find that your top need is for a private client lawyer. Because leading attorneys generally have extensive contacts with other types of experts, it can make sense to focus your first effort on locating the right lawyer. Once this key relationship is in place, you can then tap his or her network to access additional needed expertise. (See the case study for an illustration of how this chain reaction of expertise can work.)

Case study

A Chain Reaction of Expertise

Ruth is a financial advisor adept at investment management. When expanding into wealth management, she set about building a professional network that would complement her expertise. She started with the private client lawyer who worked for one of her wealthier clients. In partnering with the lawyer, she found him easy to work with and realized that he was recognized by his peers as a leading authority in the field.

The lawyer, in turn, introduced her to a life insurance professional who specialized in using life insurance as an estate planning tool. After Ruth informed the lawyer that many of her clients were senior corporate executives, he also introduced her to a derivatives specialist who could adroitly manage concentrated stock positions. The derivatives specialist in turn knew a leading securities lawyer who could be brought in as needed. The trusts and estates lawyer also introduced Ruth to an accountant who was capable of providing income tax strategies and planning as well as valuation services.

In the end, by meeting one advisor through a common client, Ruth was able to put together the core components of her professional network.

Source: Russ Alan Prince and Hannah Shaw Grove, Wealth Management, 2003.

Conduct Initial Vetting

Once you have several names, conduct a Google search on each to vet their credibility. Scrutinize their websites (or those of their firms) and their LinkedIn profiles. If they have been published, look up their articles or books. Check the credentials of lawyers on the Martindale-Hubbell online database at martindale.com or those of CPAs on the online database at CPAdirectory.com.

As you learn more about your candidates, keep in mind that you are looking for not only top expertise, but also the right expertise. If you serve affluent physicians, for example, you do not need just any lawyer, you need a wealth protection lawyer with experience working with medical practices.

Your knowledge of each person prior to actually meeting the candidate will obviously be incomplete. However, this initial vetting is worthwhile in that it will allow you to focus the rest of your efforts on the best candidates.

Contact Likely Candidates

The best way to contact candidates will depend on the nature of your relationship with them, if any. These are our recommendations for the three scenarios you will most likely encounter:

1. Candidates with whom you have no prior relationship

These are cold calls to people you have only seen or heard about, such as speakers at industry events or specialists who publish articles in trade publications. We suggest this scripting:

“Hello, James, my name is ____________ and I’m a financial advisor here in the area. I’m calling because I’m in the process of setting up a network of professional advisors to assist my clients with their advanced planning needs. I saw your presentation/read your article about ____________ and it made me think that you might be a candidate for helping my clients with ___________.

“Would you be interested in getting together to discuss this opportunity? At our meeting, I’d give you a brief overview of how I work with my professional network to address my clients’ issues beyond investment management. Then I’d ask you a few questions that would help us both better understand whether we could benefit from this relationship. How does lunch next Tuesday sound?

“Great. I’ll send you an email to confirm our meeting.”

2. Candidates who are your clients’ other professional advisors

Here you will leverage your relationship with your mutual client both to initiate contact with the professional and to better serve the client. Take these two steps:

  1. Obtain permission from the client to contact the other professional and to share the information you collected for his or her Total Client Profile. See the Tools section of this strategy for a sample privacy waiver form. Be sure to have it reviewed by your compliance team.

  2. Email the professional to share the Total Client Profile and to invite a meeting to explore how you can collaborate to better serve the client. A sample email is below and the Tools section has a downloadable template for this use. Again, have it reviewed by your compliance team before using.

Subject line: Conversation regarding Bob and Paula Smith

 

Dear Elaine,

Our mutual clients, Bob and Paula Smith, asked me to reach out to you to share the notes I collected from our last consultation. Please see the attached PDF, which contains the Total Client Profile I created of Bob and Paula.

Bob and Paula were very complimentary about the quality of work you have done for them over the years. I would like to have a short conversation with you, off the clock, to explore how we might work collaboratively to help them achieve their goals. My assistant, Linda Owens, will contact you to schedule a phone appointment.

I look forward to collaborating with you to help Bob and Paula achieve all that is important to them.

Best of success,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

CC: Bob and Paula Smith
Attachment: Total Client Profile for Bob and Paula Smith

Alternately, you may opt to make your initial contact by phone and then follow up your call with an email containing a copy of the client’s Total Client Profile.

Even if the other professional declines to consider taking part in your professional network, he or she will be grateful for the collaboration and the information you have provided. This will elevate your standing in the accounting and legal communities and may open up other doors for you in the future.

3. Candidates who have relationships with a current network member

In this instance, leverage the positive experiences network members are having as part of your network to garner introductions to their contacts. Depending on your relationship with the network member, you may ask him or her to contact the candidate to set up a meeting for all three of you. Alternately, the network member can contact the candidate to let him or her know that you will be reaching out directly to set up a meeting.

 Resources

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Identifying Candidates Audio

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Identifying Candidates Transcripts

5. The Advisor Discovery Meeting

Conducted well, you Advisor Discovery Meetings will accomplish several important goals:

  • You will establish trust and credibility as a financial advisor who is extremely well-positioned to meet the wealth management needs of your niche community

  • You will differentiate yourself from all the financial advisors who serve their clients on a strictly transactional basis

  • You will clearly convey how you work with clients through your wealth management process

  • You will gather the information necessary to make an informed decision about the suitability of the candidate for your professional network

  • You will understand whether you and the candidate have the rapport needed to work together effectively

Creating the Total Advisor Profile

Just as the Total Client Profile interview is the centerpiece of your client Discovery Meetings, the Total Advisor Profile interview will be the focus of your Advisor Discovery Meetings.

And as in your Discovery Meetings, you will use an interview guide and will create a mind map to capture what you hear. The result will be a Total Advisor Profile for every candidate you consider for your network.

See Exhibit 6.4 for a visual overview of the Total Advisor Profile that we recommend you create. As you can see, it includes the nine different categories that make up your ideal professional network member profile:

  1. The person

  2. Areas of expertise

  3. Practice goals

  4. Practice management

  5. Clients

  6. Financial advisors

  7. Compensation

  8. Teamwork

  9. Professional contacts

 

As with your Total Client Profile mind maps, have a team member transfer your hand drawn map to computer software after your meeting. This sample was created using MindManager. There are templates for this mind map in both MindManager and Word formats in the Tools section.

Preparation for the Advisor Discovery Meeting

Complete preparation for the Advisor Discovery Meeting is just as important as your preparation for each client meeting in the wealth management process.

1. Practice using your interview guide.

You already created your interview guide when you formulated your ideal professional network member profile. Now practice using the interview guide with a trusted coach, colleague or co-worker. As you do, call on the skills you have developed in profiling your clients. Just as in your Discovery Meetings, this is not a robotic recitation of questions. Your questions will serve as the framework for your discussion, but ultimately it’s an open-ended conversation.

2. Send an email confirmation.

To make the meeting as productive as possible, send an email confirming your meeting with the network candidate immediately upon scheduling the meeting. A sample confirmation email is below and a template is available for download from the Tools section of this strategy.

Subject line: Confirmation for our meeting

 

Dear James,

It was great speaking with you today and talking about the opportunity we have to potentially work together to serve affluent clients in our area.

This email is to confirm our meeting next Tuesday, November 8, at 12:30 p.m. at _________.

I am very interested in learning more about you and your firm as I identify the best-qualified individuals in our area for becoming part of my professional network to help serve my affluent clients.

As I mentioned in our call, the purpose of this meeting is to share with you my process for working with affluent clients and for me to gain insight into your practice and for us to get to know one another better. This is our proposed agenda:

  • Provide an overview of my wealth management process and how my professional network supports it

  • Conduct the Total Advisor Profile interview

  • Discuss next steps

Please bring along any marketing collateral material about your firm and yourself that will help me fully understand your business.

I am looking forward to our meeting.

Best of success,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

3. Create an Agenda.

As you do for each client meeting, create an agenda. A sample is below and a downloadable template is available in the Tools section.

Mr. James Attorney

Advisor Discovery Meeting

Tuesday, November 8
12:30 p.m.

  1. Introduction to meeting

  2. Overview of wealth management process and ideal clients

  3. Total Advisor Profile interview

  4. Discussion of next steps

4. Have the needed tools on hand.

Bring each of the following to your meetings:

  • A copy of the meeting agenda.

  • A copy of the Total Advisor Profile interview guide that you created.

  • The two-page graphic overview of your wealth management formula and process that you use to explain your process to prospective clients during the Discovery Meeting. It is available for download from the Tools section of Strategy 5.

  • A sample Total Client Profile and corresponding advanced plan. Remove any identifying client information. (You will learn how to create an advanced plan later in this strategy. If you have not yet created an advanced plan for an actual client, use the sample provided in the Tools section.)

Steps for the Advisor Discovery Meeting

As with the client Discovery Meeting, there are specific steps you will take during the Advisor Discovery Meeting to ensure that you achieve your objectives.

Step 1. Open the Meeting.

Once you have introduced yourself to the candidate, start your meeting by saying this:

“James, I’ve been looking forward to learning more about you and your practice to determine whether there would be a good fit for you in my professional network.”

Step 2. Explain how you will conduct the meeting.

Use your agenda to briefly describe what will happen during the meeting and what you would like to accomplish.

“In order to help you understand how we might work together in my professional network, I’m first going to give you an overview of the wealth management process I use with my affluent clients and how my professional network fits into that.

“Then I’d like to ask you a series of questions to gain a better understanding of you and your practice and whether we might further explore working together. To help me capture your responses, I’m going to create a mind map as we go along. This is what I do during my Discovery Meetings with my prospective clients, so it will give you a good idea of their initial experience with me.

“After that, I’d like to discuss potential next steps with you. How does all that sound to you?”

Step 3. Describe your wealth management process.

Do this exactly as you do with prospective clients, using the wealth management formula. Use your two-page graphic overview of the process as you prefer. As you describe your process, point out the parts where you will be asking the potential partner to help, based on his or her expertise. You should also share the sample Total Client Profile and advanced plan so that the professional understands exactly what you deliver to clients in terms of advanced planning and what the professional would be doing at your network meetings.

Step 4. Conduct the Total Advisor Profile interview.

Move through your interview guide, creating a mind map as you listen to responses. As needed, probe deeper to get the insight you will need to make an informed decision about inviting the candidate to join your network.

Step 5. Invite questions.

With your interview and mind map complete, invite the candidate to ask any questions he or she may have. If you and the candidate are establishing a good rapport, you may find that these questions lead to a broader conversation. This can be helpful as it will give you more insight, but keep the meeting within the time frame allotted.

Step 6. Describe next steps.

Wrap up the meeting by discussing what will happen next:

“James, this has been a great meeting and I appreciate your time. What we should both do next is to spend a little time thinking about what we’ve learned about each other as we consider whether or not you would be the right fit for my professional network.

“If we both decide that we should pursue this, our next step will be to do a trial run. This is very straightforward. You would participate in one of my professional network meetings and make recommendations as you see appropriate on specific client cases. This will give everyone a good feel for whether it’s mutually beneficial for everyone for you to continue to take part.

“I’ll get back in touch with you no later than next Thursday to talk about what we’ve decided.”

 Resources

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The Advisor Discovery Meeting Audio

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The Advisor Discovery Meeting Transcript

6. Selecting The Right Professionals

We recommend that you interview at least three candidates for each position in your network. Do not be tempted to interview just one candidate and then simply “rubber stamp” him or her. You want to be able to compare individuals to one another to determine which one is the best fit for your network and most capable of assisting your clients.

As you make your decision, keep in mind that there are six qualities that every member of your professional network should bring to the table to help ensure that it runs smoothly and that your clients are well-served.

1. The Right Expertise

You must have absolutely the best expertise available for your niche market. Large-client cases do not come along every day, and only by having the right expertise do you maximize your chance of getting the business.

So do not choose to work with a particular lawyer, for example, simply because you think you might get clients in exchange down the road. You do not need a second-rate attorney who will give you plenty of referrals, because you will not get what you really need: the ability to generate the best recommendations for addressing your clients’ financial challenges.

At the same time, do not make the mistake of aiming too high. For example, there are private client lawyers who specialize in clients with $50 million and above in net worth. If your typical affluent client has $3 million in net worth, if would be foolish to try to make such an attorney part of your network—there would simply not be enough economic glue to make the relationship work.

2. Integrity and Professionalism

Each member of the network must bring a high standard of personal and professional integrity to the table. Each specialist must handle every aspect of his or her work (within the network and with the client) with a consistent and high degree of professionalism.

3. Ability to Work Well Together

To work together effectively, there should be a personal rapport (or the potential to build rapport) between you and the professional and among the professional and other members of your network.

Members of your network must also be able to collaborate well and support one another’s efforts. For example, the lawyer and life insurance specialist must be able to work closely together because insurance products will often support the lawyer’s planning strategies.

4. Respect for The Network Model

Every professional must respect the network model. Each must recognize and accept that you, as the wealth manager, have the primary relationship with the client. This is a challenge for many professionals, who view the client not as a client but as a case from which they should attempt to maximize revenue.

In a successful professional network, members never undercut the wealth manager—or each other—in front of the client. The wealth manager is present at all meetings (except any that may deal with issues of attorney-client privilege), and no member of the network may contact the client without the wealth manager’s knowledge and permission.

Finally, network members must also be willing to walk away from a sale when it becomes clear that it is not in the client’s best interest. The life insurance specialist, for instance, must accept it—and not argue—when the lawyer says that a particular product is not good for the client.

5. Ability to Work Well With Clients

You should be proud to put members of your network in front of your clients. This means you need people who, even after doing a great deal of work to prepare a recommendation, will graciously accept it should the client choose not to pursue that recommendation.

6. Noncompetitive Outlook

It’s simple: Members of your network cannot compete with you. So your life insurance specialist, for example, cannot manage money in any way, shape or form. To do so would be contrary to the network model.

Following up With Candidates

Once you have made your decision, contact the candidate you have selected in a way that will further build your relationship and demonstrate your ability to listen well and gain an accurate understanding of the professional’s business.

We recommend sending an email to the professional and attaching a copy of the mind map that you created during the Advisor Discovery Meeting. Below is a sample of an email to send to a professional you would like to join your network. A downloadable template is available in the Tools section.

Subject line: Invitation to join my professional network

Dear James,

It was terrific meeting with you last week. I really enjoyed getting to know you and discussing how we could work together in my professional network.

Given your knowledge, experience and skill set, I think you would make a great contribution to the network in the area of __________ (insert’s professional’s area of expertise). I’d like to invite you to take part in a trial run with the other members of my network. As we discussed during our meeting, this would mean taking part in one of our regularly scheduled network meetings to discuss several client cases. Please consider this and let me know if you would like to take part.

In addition, I wanted to send to you a copy of the mind map of you and your practice that I created during out meeting. Other professionals I’ve interviewed have found their mind maps to provide a good high-level perspective on their practices and to help clarify their goals and next steps. I hope that you also find it useful in your practice.

Please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience to let me know what you decide about our trial run. I’ll follow up immediately with details on our next meeting.

Kim, I think we have a great opportunity here to serve clients extremely well while creating important opportunities for both of our businesses. I look forward to hearing from you and to the possibility of working with you in the near future.

Best of success,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

And here is a sample email to a professional who would not be a good fit for your network. Again, you will find a template for download in the Tools section.

Subject line: Great meeting with you

Dear Matt,

I really appreciate your time last week in meeting with me about the possibility of joining my professional network.

As we discussed, my affluent clients have specific needs in the area of __________ (insert’s professional’s area of expertise). I’m afraid that the particular expertise you bring to the table—while clearly very valuable to your clients—would not be the optimal match for my clients’ needs at this time.

However, I did want to send to you a copy of the mind map of you and your practice that I created during out meeting. Other professionals I’ve interviewed have found their mind maps to provide a good high-level perspective on their practices and to help clarify their goals and next steps. I hope that you also find it useful in your practice.

Matt, thank you again for your time and for your interest in my professional network. I wish you all the best as you continue to move toward your goals as you serve your clients very well.

Best of success,
Financial Advisor to the Affluent

Once you have heard from your selected candidate, get in touch with him or her about your next upcoming professional network meeting. We discuss this in the next session.

 Resources

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Selecting The Right Professionals Audio

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00:00 / 06:42
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Selecting The Right Professionals Transcript

7. The Professional Network Meeting

Once your professional network is in place, you will be ready to address your affluent clients’ advanced planning needs. The setting for doing so is the professional network meeting. You have a single objective for these meetings: to identify, prioritize and document all opportunities for assisting each client in each advanced planning area.

Preparing for The Meeting

There should be no surprises in a professional network meeting. Take care to structure and plan everything in advance, including exactly who will attend, which client cases will be discussed and how ideas will be brainstormed.

To help you facilitate these meetings, prepare an agenda and send it out in advance to those who will attend. The sample agenda below would be appropriate for a newly formed network where it would be appropriate to reinforce your wealth management process and how the network operates. As network members become seasoned and familiar with the process, you may choose to omit items 2 and 3. You may download a template of this agenda from the Tools section of this strategy.

In addition, ensure that each client’s Total Client Profile is up to date. Make enough copies for each network member.

Elite Wealth Management Group

Professional Network Meeting Agenda

Thursday, April 28
1:00 p.m.

  1. Greeting and introduction

  2. Review of the wealth management process and the role of the network in advanced planning

  3. How the professional network operates

    • Overview of the network model

    • Meetings to review cases and brainstorm recommendations

    • Documentation of advanced plan with mind mapping

    • Frequency of meetings

  4. Follow-up on open issues from previous cases

  5. Client case 1

    • Presentation of Total Client Profile by wealth manager

    • Brainstorming of recommendations by advanced planning category (wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving)

    • Prioritization of recommendations

  6. Client case 2

    • Presentation of Total Client Profile by wealth manager

    • Brainstorming of recommendations by advanced planning category

    • Prioritization of recommendations

  7. Break

  8. Client case 3

    • Presentation of Total Client Profile by wealth manager

    • Brainstorming of recommendations by advanced planning category

    • Prioritization of recommendations

  9. Client case 4

    • Presentation of Total Client Profile by wealth manager

    • Brainstorming of recommendations by advanced planning category

    • Prioritization of recommendations

  10. Schedule next meeting

  11. Closing

 

Steps for the professional network meeting

Step 1. Open the meeting.

Take a moment to welcome everyone to the meeting. If there are any professionals present who are new to the network, briefly introduce them to the group and ask them to say a few sentences about themselves.

Step 2. Provide an overview of the wealth management process.

Using your two-page overview of the wealth management process and formula, point out specifically where you are in the process and where you need their help. Ask for any clarifying questions.

Step 3. Review how the professional network operates.

Provide a brief overview of the network model, with you the wealth manager as the general manager of a team of independent professionals. Then describe how the meetings will run, how you will capture the recommendations through mind mapping and how often the network will meet.

Steps 2 and 3 may be necessary only when your network is new and comprised primarily of professionals who are not yet familiar with your wealth management process and the operations of the network. Once your network is well-established, consider skipping these two steps.

 

Step 4. Follow up on open issues from previous cases.

If there are any open items on client cases that were discussed at previous meetings, follow up on them now. Keep this brief and high level. If you have detailed items regarding a client case to discuss with one professional, avoid bogging down the entire group with your discussion. Instead, schedule a separate one-on-one meeting with that professional.

Step 5. Present the first case.

Take five minutes to present the first client’s Total Client Profile. (Remove all identifying information to maintain confidentiality.) Begin with values and move clockwise around the profile to paint a complete picture of the client. Be aware that network members, especially new ones, may ask for additional details and financial documents. If they do, remind them that this is a strategic, high-level conversation and that all you are asking for at this point is help on determining next steps for the client.

Step 6. Facilitate brainstorming on the case.

On a flip chart or white board, draw out the framework for the advanced plan mind map, with the client’s name in the middle connected to the four areas of advanced planning. Now ask your network members the first question: What can we do to help the client with wealth enhancement and tax mitigation? Start with one professional, get his or her ideas, and then move around the circle until you have captured all ideas. There will likely be some jumping around as you do this; that’s fine as long as you keep the conversation focused on the key question and capture all ideas.

In brainstorming, you are looking for quantity over quality, so do not worry at this point about which ideas are best. To let you focus on the discussion while ensuring that every idea is captured, have a member of your internal team write down each idea on the flip chart or white board as it is given. Alternately, you may elect to record the meeting and have the recording transcribed later. If you choose to do so, be sure to check in advance with your compliance team regarding the advisably of such a recording and any retention or other requirements. Then get the permission of each network member present to record the discussion.

Once you have gathered all wealth enhancement action ideas, move on to the next advanced planning area of wealth transfer by asking this: What can we do to help the client with wealth transfer? Capture ideas as you did before, and then move on to the two remaining advanced planning areas.

Once you have gathered all ideas for all four advanced planning areas, prioritize them by asking your network this question: What would we recommend that the client do first? Your goal is to determine which actions should be taken first in order to make the greatest possible positive impact on achieving the client’s key objectives while ensuring your profitability. Note these on the flip chart or white board.

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until all client cases have been covered. In all but the most complicated cases, 15 to 20 minutes per case should be quite sufficient to capture the high-level ideas. Most wealth managers cover four client cases in a 90-minute meeting.

Step 7. Describe the next steps.

Once you have finished all the client cases, summarize the next steps. Describe how you will use mind mapping to document the ideas that were generated to create an advanced plan for each client. You will then present each client with his or her advanced plan at your next Regular Progress Meeting. From there, you can expect the client to move forward on some or all recommendations.

Step 8. Close the meeting.

Sincerely and enthusiastically thank the professionals for their involvement in your network. Ask them for feedback on what did and did not work well and any suggestions that might make future meetings go even better. Finally, just as you do at the end of each of your client meetings, schedule the next network meeting.

Cases brought by network members

It is likely that at some point a member of the network will ask about bringing one of his or her own client cases to be brainstormed at a meeting. Look at this as an opportunity and respond by saying, “Yes, it would be fine to bring one of your cases to a meeting. Of course, we’ll need a Total Client Profile. Would you like to do the discovery or shall I?”

Chances are good that the other professional will want you to conduct the Total Client Profile interview. This will be a great opportunity for you to get in front of a client who is likely well-qualified for your services.

How to Recognize Opportunities

You will rely largely on the members of your professional network to identify the financial strategies, services or products that have a high probability of achieving the client’s objectives and that can be delivered profitably. Still, there are several actions you can take to help them to do this successfully:

Know The Triggers

There are a range of issues that will nearly always trigger the need for advanced planning actions. These include the following:

  • Multiple families

  • Second spouses

  • Large age differences between spouses

  • Large incomes ($5 million or more) with desire to minimize income tax

  • Multiple jurisdictions (more than just the United States)

  • High-end artwork

  • Uninsurable people

Keep in mind that these are triggers only—issues that call out to be explored in more detail. For example, just knowing that a client has expensive artwork is not enough. You need to know exactly the outcome the client wants with regard to the artwork to be able to deal with it correctly.

Ask the Key Question

Your starting point in each advanced planning area should always be a single question: What can we do to help the client wealth enhancement/wealth transfer/wealth protection/charitable giving?

Once you know the answer to the key question, you can go on to explore how to solve that challenge in a cost-effective manner that is aligned with the client’s other goals.

Dig Deeper

What may at first look like a dead end may in fact offer a whole new set of opportunities.

Here’s an example: Assume you have a high-net-worth client who has done an excellent job managing his wealth. After profiling him and presenting his case to your professional network, you uncover no major opportunities to add value.

Rather than stopping here, ask yourself: What are we overlooking? Where are there other opportunities? Because you created a thorough client profile, you know that this client has a daughter who is a lawyer specializing in intellectual property issues. Because you (or someone in your network) know that people with IP challenges nearly always also have wealth management challenges, you see a new opportunity.

This should lead to new questions: Which law firm does the daughter work for? Who are her clients? How can you leverage this relationship to reach these people? By looking beyond the original client relationship, you may uncover a completely new range of opportunities.

Never Expend Extra Effort

Sometimes when you open up a client case you find a gold mine of opportunities to serve the client with advanced planning. Other times, there is just not much you can do. The client may be reluctant to make any changes, there may be no liquidity to work with or there may simply be no major challenge to solve. On top of this, there may be no family relationships that can be leveraged.

Recognize when this is the case and move on. There is no reason to spend your time and energy—and that of your professional network—trying to uncover opportunities that just do not exist.

Creating the advanced plan

Drawing on the information and insights you gained during the brainstorming process, you now will clearly document the opportunities for actions that will address the client’s needs.

To do so, develop an advanced plan mind map. The mind map should not only contain recommended actions, but also document the current status of each action. This mind map will then guide your work with your client through each of your Regular Progress Meetings.

This mind map allows the wealth manager and client to easily see the big picture—all activities in each of the four advanced planning areas are on a single page, and each item is coded with its stage of progress: deferred, in progress or complete. This will be highly effective for focusing the discussion at each Regular Progress Meeting.

As you move forward, more and more items will move from red or yellow to green, providing a clear visual for the client of the value you are providing. While your goal is to move toward a “sea of green” on your advanced plan mind maps, keep in mind that only very rarely will an advanced plan ever be complete. As time goes on, there invariably will be changes in the clients’ situations, in tax law and in the economic environment that call for the plan to be updated with new activities to be completed.

Like the sample Total Client Profile mind map provided in Strategy 5, this advanced plan mind map was created using MindManager, a popular mind mapping program. Both MindManager and Word templates for creating advanced plans are available for download from the Tools section here in Strategy 6.

 Resources

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The Professional Network Meeting Audio

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The Professional Network Meeting Transcript