Capturing The Potential:
Seize The Opportunity
We know that you are going through an extremely challenging time right now. We also believe that this unprecedented environment offers unprecedented opportunities—provided you take optimal care of your clients and prospective clients while positioning your business for growth.
We want to instill a sense of urgency in you. Why? Because these times demand that you act immediately to provide the leadership and support that your clients and prospective clients are looking to you for right now. By seizing this opportunity to serve them extremely well, you not only will be doing what is right for them, you will accelerate your own success as we move forward through and beyond difficult times.
Your clients and prospective clients need you now more than ever. Don’t let them down.
Three Things You Must Know Now
1. You must move beyond investment management to wealth management.
What worked in the past will not work now. Like it or not, investments have largely become commoditized. You can no longer effectively compete based on delivering superior investment returns. With hundreds of thousands of financial advisors around the world vying for affluent clients, you must differentiate yourself based on your ability to address all aspects of clients’ financial worlds, not just their investments. Your future business—and the financial well-being of your clients—depends on it.
And make no mistake about it: The affluent are well aware of this trend. They are no longer content with simply receiving competent investment advice. They are looking for real leadership that guides them through today’s ambiguity and unsettled markets so that they can make well-informed financial decisions. Beyond help with investments, they need assistance in mitigating taxes, protecting their wealth, transferring their wealth to the next generations and maximizing their charitable giving. They are looking for financial advisors with access to the expertise that can address all these concerns, and do so in a streamlined, systematic way. In short, they are looking for true wealth managers. You must become one.
2. You must understand the link between the quality of your client relationships and your success.
There was a time when having a great personal relationship with a client was something that was nice to have—a bonus, even, that made your work a bit more enjoyable.
That time is gone. You’re in a people business now, and your ability to build high-quality relationships is essential for your success. Your clients want trusted, long-term relationships with you, and if you fail to foster those relationships, you will lose them—regardless of how great your investment track record may be.
A quick look back at another time when we faced a great deal of uncertainty, stress and volatile markets provides concrete evidence of the importance of focusing on client relationships.
As nearly all of us will remember, 2001 was a challenging year in many regards, both financially and personally. Russ Alan Prince led a large study of advisors early in 2002 to see how they were responding. The study group was composed of three types of advisors:
Investment generalists. Advisors who offer a broad range of investment products but do not specialize in a single type of product. They do not make consulting an essential part of their business model.
Product specialists. Advisors who focus exclusively on an investment-oriented product niche that might feature such products as managed accounts, stocks or fixed income alternatives. They also do not make consulting a large element of their business.
Wealth managers. Advisors who take a comprehensive, holistic approach to client needs. They use a highly consultative approach that emphasizes gaining a deep understanding not only of clients’ investment situation, but of their financial issues beyond investments and, critically, of virtually any non-financial issue that is important to their clients.
As you would expect, the revenues of the surveyed advisors overall dropped by 34.0 percent during that difficult year. But when the study looked at how each group fared separately, it found a far different story.
As the chart below shows, the wealth managers enjoyed an increase in their revenues—36.9 percent—despite the difficult market environment. In sharp contrast, the investment generalists saw their revenues drop by more than half—51.1 percent. And while the product specialists performed better, they still grew their production by just 1.6 percent.
What explains the huge difference between the wealth managers and the other two groups? The inherent attributes of the wealth management model allow advisors to foster deep client relationships, which enables them to better identify and meet the needs and wants of their clients. And because wealth managers provide products and services other than investments, they are not at the mercy of the stock market’s performance.
But keep in mind that wealth management issues are not typically of the highest concern to people during times of high stress. Instead, they are focused on the health and safety of their loved ones and themselves. This means that the ability to offer a range of financial products and services is not what will make wealth managers successful today. Instead, it’s the inherent nature of the wealth management model that fosters close client relationships that enables their success.
3. You must be focused and systematic.
The world is so chock-full of distractions these days that many of us spend more time in a state of distraction than of focus. You must eliminate as many distractions as possible and focus on the handful of few actions that will make the biggest difference in your practice and in the lives of your clients and prospective clients. Simply working harder is not the answer; you need a clear path to run on. You need to set specific goals and systematically take focused steps for achieving them.
The upshot? You must move to wealth management. You must deepen your client relationships. And you must move forward systematically. Capturing the Potential will equip you to take all of these actions. But we know you’re eager to get started on what you can do right now. Read on.
Three Things You Must Do Now
1. Contact your top 10 clients.
Even if you have been in touch with your top clients, reach out to them again immediately. These conversations should be all about them. Your goal is to find out what is going on in their world, to understand their concerns, to hear what is happening in their business (assuming they are business owners or leaders) and to uncover anything else that is important to them right now. Listen carefully, be authentic and be empathetic.
These are just a few open-ended questions to get these conversations started:
How are you doing?
How is your spouse/family doing?
How is your business (or job) going?
Is anything worrying you right now?
Once you feel that you have a basic understanding of your clients’ most important issues, reinforce that you are there to help them. You can simply say this:
“I’m here for you. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.”
At some point in the conversation, clients may ask you about what they should be doing. Then—and only if they ask first—you can talk about things you can do for them. But if they do not ask, do not try to discuss taking some sort of action that may or may not be in sync with their thinking. To be very clear: You are not contacting these clients to sell them anything. You are contacting them because you care about them.
Once you have had this type of conversation and begun to foster deeper, more personal connections with your top clients, you can introduce them to the rediscovery process that will further build your relationships and bring them into your wealth management service. You will out exactly how to do this in Module 3: The Full Client Experience.
2. Contact your top 10 prospective clients.
Your prospective clients are individuals with whom you have had previous contact but who declined to engage you in the past. Those with the highest potential are the ones you feel you can serve extremely well and who will make the biggest difference in the success of your practice.
We recommend three specific steps for reaching out to your top prospective clients. In our experience, advisors using this process typically convert 30 percent of the prospective clients they contact. You will get detailed guidance and tools for taking these steps in Module 3: The Full Client Experience.
3. Become an expert at deep discovery.
Your ability to ask thoughtful questions that prompt meaningful responses that reveal what truly matters to people will directly translate into new business, both in new clients and new assets to manage.
In fact, in our experience, advisors who are adept at asking the right questions convert prospective clients to clients 50 percent more often than advisors who stick with traditional fact-finding questionnaires. The reason is simple: When you understand your clients on a deep level—not just about their money, but about their most important values, hopes, worries and dreams—you can create the rapport that is foundational to trusted, long-term relationships. At the same time, it will reveal to you multiple opportunities to serve them, which will further deepen your relationship.
Your ability to conduct deep discovery is truly foundational to your wealth management service. You will master it in Module 2: The Discovery Meeting.
As every financial advisor knows, we are working in challenging times. But great challenges provide great opportunities—if you know exactly what to do to capture your potential.
This program is designed to help you realize your full capabilities as you move to an even higher level of success as a financial advisor.
Our goal is to help you build a simple and elegant wealth management business that makes you indispensable to the right affluent clients—and to do so faster than you ever thought possible—all while building an amazing life of significance. As you do, you will make a huge difference in the lives of your clients, your team members and your loved ones. Let’s get started.
A focus on what works
If you are like most of the financial advisors who come to CEG Worldwide to take part in our coaching programs, you are frustrated. You know that you could be much more successful, but you are not sure which actions will most effectively accelerate your success.
In Capturing the Potential, you will find out exactly what to do. Through our industry research and experience in coaching thousands of top advisors, we know what works. Over the next several months, you will focus on just four things. Together, these have been proven to help advisors achieve significant and serious goals.
Understand the affluent. To serve anyone well, you must have a good baseline knowledge of what matters most to them and what they are looking for in an advisor. Module 1 will give you exactly that.
Become a wealth manager. Today, there is just one business model that fully addresses the needs of the affluent: wealth management. In Modules 2 and 3, you will discover a proven, systematic process for delivering a world-class wealth management experience to your clients. We will give you everything you need to become a successful wealth manager.
Provide a second-opinion service. To boost your initial success even more, you will discover in Module 4 how to garner introductions for prospective clients who are highly qualified for your wealth management offering—without having to ask for referrals.
Build a professional network. To compete effectively today, you must provide what the affluent expect and need: expertise beyond just investment management. To address their full range of financial concerns, including wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving, you will assemble a team of experts—authorities who have deep knowledge across the range of these specialties. As you will see in Module 5, your network will be foundational to your ability to serve your affluent clients extremely well and continue to move upmarket.
In Module 6, you will bring these key actions together in one strategic plan that will keep you on track as you move ahead.
Bringing your team on board
We recommend that you actively engage your partners and key team members in Capturing the Potential. We designed this program so that you, as a principal in your practice, can effectively implement the strategies you will learn. But we also designed it for your team members so that they can gain a clear understanding of why you are taking these actions and, more than likely, asking for their help in doing so.
Too often we leave our teams ill-prepared to help us be successful. By engaging your team in Capturing the Potential, you will enable your team members to become more successful in their own right as they learn the key strategies and provide their input on execution. In particular, you should include every team member who has a client-facing or client-supporting role.
We have found that the best approach is for you and these key team members to independently read each module’s written material, watch the videos and then complete the written exercises. With the exceptions of Module 2 and Module 3, which provide extensive videos, this should take each person no more than 90 minutes per module.
Once everyone has finished reviewing a module’s materials, convene a meeting where all team members briefly share their answers from the three questions on the second page of each module’s written exercises:
What are the most important takeaways from this module?
What are the implications for our practice?
What actions should we take in response to what we now know?
Use a flip chart to record the answers from each person. Use one page of the flip chart for each of the three questions. Multiple team members may have the same or similar responses to some questions, so consolidate their responses as appropriate.
Once you have recorded all responses, go to the page that lists the actions suggested by team members. Ask, “Of all these actions, which ones would have the greatest positive impact on our practice and our clients?” This question should lead to a fruitful discussion and may even elicit new, better action ideas. Get group consensus on the three best action items and circle them on the flip chart.
Keep these flip chart pages from each week. In Module 6: Implementation Check and Strategic Business Plan, you will use these pages to help create a plan for moving forward.
The Hierarchy Of Advisor Success
Financial advisors tend to operate on four distinct levels. We call this the hierarchy of advisor success.
Most established financial advisors are at the Technician level. The big challenge for these advisors is that they don’t have a clear path forward. They are often stuck in the belief that it’s their knowledge of investment management that will make them more successful. As a result, they compete on the basis of investment returns alone. Given the nearly complete commoditization of investment management today, this is a very hard sell to prospective clients.
However, once Technicians understand that the key to becoming more successful is providing a world-class client experience, they become Experimenters. They begin to try different approaches to enhancing their client experience, and as a result they see their income and assets under management grow. At this point, Experimenters are publicly successful. However, they are often privately stressed because they have not yet landed on systematic processes for ensuring client satisfaction and loyalty.
Once Experimenters have the right processes in place, they can move to the Rainmaker stage. Here client referrals are the main driver of business growth. Advisors at this level usually feel very good about their progress. However, their referrals—and thus their business growth—tend not to be as systematic as they would like, and all too often, the referrals are not to prospective clients with higher levels of wealth.
And that brings us to the advisors at the Elite level, who consistently earn net incomes of at least $1 million each year. These advisors are able to live the lives they want and have their businesses support their most important goals for themselves, their loved ones and the causes they care about. The key to achieving elite status? It’s usually a steady stream of referrals from centers of influence to clients who are more affluent than those the advisor currently works with.
No matter where you are now on the hierarchy, you want to move upward. The question is how. By taking part in Capturing the Potential, you will firmly establish your wealth management business model and top-notch client service processes. With these in place, you be poised to move as far up the hierarchy as you want.