Coaching Professionals for over 20 years1.866.593.8020
Coaching Professionals for over 20 years
Home
Consulting
NewPareto App
Pareto Academy
Mastermind
Corporate
Speaking
Register NowWebinars
Partners
Concierge
About
Contact
Pareto Academy Login
Blog Posting Image
2019-04-09 18:09:24 • 3 minute read

Steve Phillips is a longtime friend and partner of Duncan MacPherson and the entire Pareto Systems team, having first engaged with Pareto as a client in 2010. With over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry as a speaker, team leader and passionate educator, Steve was an early adopter of the processes around practice management, business refinement and client acquisition. It was a natural next step for Steve to become a Pareto Certified Practice Management Consultant, and part of the Pareto Coaches Network.  

After living, working and consulting in Scottsdale AZ for 5 years, Steve and his wife Laurie recently moved back to their home city of Overland Park KS. They have two grown daughters, Lindsay and Leigha and stay busy being involved with them and other family members living in the Kansas City area. Steve and Laurie are movie buffs and also enjoy traveling. 

Interestingly, Steve's college study was herpetology and he spent those formative years collecting and working with venomous snakes. As he describes it, the study and love of the snakes and their natural history remains in his blood and he still gets out on collecting and observation trips with colleagues as often as he can. 

Pareto: Why did you buy into Pareto’s process as opposed to what the industry was doing?  

Steve: Pretty simple actually. After doing presentations for thousands of advisors over 15 years, it became increasingly clear that the path to sustainable growth for already successful advisors was not around product or marketing. Moreover, the idea of working with the ‘already convinced’ in a practice, and turning current clients into advocates who then became the best client acquisition initiative anywhere, was the absolute proof that these proven processes work year after year. Helping the advisors I worked with create professional contrast in their communities and seeing what a shift to a philosophy, planning strategy and process approach meant to creating enterprise value in a firm, not only changed the trajectory of the firms and advisors I worked with, it changed my own path and in fact my life. 

Pareto: After becoming a founding member of the Pareto Coaches Network you founded the initial version of Advisor Protocol nearly five years ago and I know that through the collaboration with Duncan and Pareto Systems you’ve seen significant growth in the last several years. Talk to me a little about what AP does for its advisor clients. 

Steve: Well first, all of us at Advisor Protocol are thrilled to have had this relationship with Pareto for the last 5 years and Duncan has certainly been a guiding resource for us all along the way and was instrumental in the idea around what Advisor Protocol could become. We take the “In Collaboration with Pareto Systems” very seriously.

We’re actually a brand and coaching consultancy, so we develop and create personal and professional branding strategies, which of course leads advisors to articulating their value so that clients and prospects fully and completely understand and appreciate everything they do. As Duncan would say, we help advisors take the 50 or 80 or 100 things that they may be able to provide to a client over the life of a relationship, condense it into the 7 Pillars and then down to the One proprietary Process. We provide client-facing branded marketing pieces all based around the principals taught in the Pareto System, TCE and Blue Square.

We don’t let our advisors confuse a logo or fancy marketing pieces with the brand though. When you think of famous logos like Nike or Apple those are not just logos or pictures. They are the outward-facing representation of a deeply seated brand. For example, when you see the Nike Swoosh what do you think? “Just do it” of course. That’s a brand not a logo. So we work deeply with our advisor clients and their teams to identify, capture and bring to life their unique brand. You can imagine then what happens when we create the client pieces or provide coaching, not to mention the reaction of clients and prospects after the brand has been created.

Pareto: So in short, what affects or changes have you seen on the practices of advisors who participate in the AP program?  

Steve: Well within a matter of weeks of engaging with us our advisors see an increase in the quality and quantity of introductions they receive. The Pareto mantra of course. The thing is, is that once the brand is created and advisors can communicate it with passion and emotion, it of course gives clients a compelling way to share the experience they have with their advisor with friends and family members and instead of “sending referrals” they now “make the introductions.” And there’s a big difference there, as you know. Additionally, the strategies apply to both new client acquisition and to re-framing of current client relationships so think retention as well.

Pareto: So, your processes affect both acquisition AND retention. Speak to that for just a moment 

Steve: Again, applying what we’ve learned from Duncan and through our own experience with advisors, I think it’s safe to say that competition and commoditization will continue to increase and not go the other way and we believe, and have heard from some of our client advisors, that retention might be the most important aspect when it comes to increasing the enterprise value of their firms.

So through our branding and coaching we teach our advisors that “the words matter” whether or not they’re speaking with a new client for the first time or re-framing the relationships of their best clients. The opportunity to create professional contrast always exists, maybe now more than ever. The focus always has to be on providing an elevated and perfected client experience, and to move prospects and clients up the loyalty ladder to advocates.

To date we are extremely pleased and gratified about the response we have received and certainly about the ongoing collaboration with everyone at Pareto. 

For more information on Steve or Advisor Protocol visit: https://www.advisorprotocol.com/

Blog Posting Image
2019-04-02 17:28:38 • 5 minute read

As a coach in the financial service community, I continually ponder this very simple question:

Why are some Financial Advisors more effective than others?

You already know that the quality of your client relationships is just as important as the quality of your advice. And while I will never trivialize the importance of providing sound financial strategies and solid investment decisions, they alone won’t guarantee success. In fact, it has been proven that there are three numbers in the combination that can unlock an advisors full potential:

  • Sound investment advice
  • Consistent client relationship management
  • Predictable deployment of best practices

To validate this, we often scrutinize what separates the best from the rest in this business. We look at why some advisors are more successful than others and what it is they are doing that others don’t.

But what’s really fascinating is that this study transcends the financial services industry. The most successful consultants, accountants, dentists and other skilled professionals aren’t just effective at their core roles, they are also proficient at creating exceptional client experiences that lead to loyalty and refer-ability. The quality of the core deliverable is crucial, but that alone is not enough.

One of my favorite examples would have to be dentists.

First Things First

One of the most important things dentists realized was that their time is their most valuable asset. Your dentist doesn’t call you to confirm your next cleaning. Someone else does that (in fact, try to get your dentist on the phone. It’s not easy. They guard their time.). A good dentist creates organization and structure and empowers people who make $25 per hour to do $25 per hour tasks. In the process this liberates the dentist to focus on what he or she gets paid to do while creating scarcity that is attractive.

Master the Things That You Can Control

Somewhere along their specific evolutionary curve, dentists also clued into the fact that their vocation was close to the top of the list of professionals that many people despised, and then they got smart and did something about it. They started concentrating on the things that they could control. One thing they could control was preparing an environment that was so memorable and relaxing that people felt great even though they were visiting the dentist! With this historical move, dentists finally realized that they too could make use of word-of-mouth advertising! For the first time, people were talking about their dentists, and yet it wasn't in the context of pain! They were talking to their friends, families and colleagues about this special brand of 'instant rapport' that they had experienced, and it was at a dentist's office! People hearing about such things could have remarked to themselves: "I must check this out! My dentist basically uses pliers and rum!"

The other smart thing that successful dentists did was to help their patients map out a foundation for good dental health. As a part of this foundation, clients were taught that they would need regular and never-ending visits to the dentist to ensure that this strategy for good dental health was to succeed. In other words, it was an ongoing process that never ended until the patient died or lost his/her teeth. Clients are trained to empower their dentist.

Every new service provided by a dentist is communicated to clients in a forthright manner and positioned as a benefit to the client rather than as a sales opportunity. Clients become aware of their unmet needs before they even realize the need exists. And they take action.

Where is this all going? Is it such a stretch to think that we can implement the same kind of atmosphere and professional processes into the office of a financial advisor? Dentists realized at some point that the overwhelmingly negative public predisposition toward their kind was out of their control. Once they started mastering the office visit and educating their clients about the link between great dental health and how that was directly proportional to a lifelong relationship with their dentist, they have never looked back. The good dentists attract, they don’t chase.

Be Referable 365 Days a Year

Is it your fault as an advisor that the markets are volatile and the future is uncertain? Not in the least. However, if your clients tend to refer you only when things are rosy in the markets, you have a serious vulnerability in the way that you have positioned yourself with your clients. Things do not have to be this way!

If advisors would simply take a page or two from a profession that has already gone through this brand of disharmony, they would finally have a business where clients can and will refer them regardless of how the markets are doing. This is not a pipe dream. There are advisors who have already integrated these things into their businesses as we speak. These advisors have clients who have been taught the doctrine and who are not faked out by volatility. As a result, because their clients' expectations have been exceeded in the areas that the advisor can control, these advisors are immensely referable 365 days out of the year.

What's Holding You Back? Your Clients WILL Embrace This Approach!

When 'instant rapport' takes place at your office and the experience is coupled with a Client Process where the complexities of financial planning have been simplified and “future-paced”, clients will embrace your efforts. They will also realize that it would be a disservice not to recommend this five-star service to others they know who are unhappy with their financial advisors. Through a crystal-clear Client Process, clients are taught that financial planning is not an event, but a process that involves ongoing interaction with their financial advisor, repetitively and forever as their lives and needs unfold.

Like the dental mantra, clients can learn a financial mantra and will deliver it to others just as naturally and eloquently. With this kind of structure, to blame a financial advisor for an occasional or sustained hit to a balanced portfolio would be akin to blaming a dentist for your root canal.

The end result is that the 'instant rapport' and the Client Process are what the clients learn to value in dealing with the advisor instead of fixating on the rate of return on their investments.

To those advisors who doubt the veracity of this claim, the number one piece of feedback we hear from the clients of financial advisors who have embraced this approach of perfecting what they can control and improve on is:

Finally! This is what we've been waiting for!

Typically, when affluent prospective clients hear about a superior brand of advisor, they will distance themselves from the transaction-oriented advisor as quickly as possible and gravitate to the full-service advisor.

The bottom line is that everything – every action and reaction – executed by you and your team makes you either more or less refer-able. Scrutinize everything and create a refer-able experience.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-03-26 16:14:08 • 5 minute read
"On a personal level, what I love about coaching is helping people to define and then achieve their goals. To me, nothing is more professionally rewarding." Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton was recently interviewed about his role as a coach and Pareto Systems Consultant. Here is a portion of that interview.

How did you get started in the financial coaching business?

I’ve been working with financial planners and advisors for most of my career. First as an estate planning attorney and then as a financial advisor and life insurance provider to high net worth ($25M+) clients throughout the country. I considered coaching a big part of my job. I would work side by side with advisors to help them demonstrate capability in the high net worth market.

What made you pick Pareto Systems as a consulting process?

When I practiced law, I was a client of Pareto Systems. Maybe not the best student they ever had.

But a few years ago, I reconnected with Duncan MacPherson and Pareto and I was immediately attracted to the platform and the process. The tools they have are phenomenal. I was looking for a career change and just felt that Pareto was the right choice. Time has only made my commitment to the Pareto Systems program stronger.

Who are your ideal coaching clients?

My current clients include solo advisors with $100M under management all the way to complex teams with over multiple billions under management.

Like we preach in Pareto Systems, my ideal client is a triple A client. They have a successful business and they want to see that business get even better. But they also want to make sure that they have time for family, friends and community. They are great people to work with. Constantly learning, looking for improvements. Willing to listen to advice and even more ready to execute. On top of that, they are advocates for me and for Pareto Systems. They don’t introduce me to their colleagues to help me grow my business. They introduce me to their colleagues because they know that we can help.

What trends are you seeing in the industry?

What I see over and over is that advisors want to drive more profitability and process in their businesses and want to have more control over their personal destiny. Of course, growth is a hot topic today. And I see many advisors considering a change from a wirehouse-based operation to an independent regime.

Pareto systems allows the flexibility to coach on these business issues as they arise.

What is your favorite thing about coaching?

On a personal level, what I love about coaching is helping people to define and then achieve their goals. To me, nothing is more professionally rewarding.

Pareto Systems focuses on the importance of FORM. Tells us a little FORM information about you.

For those who don’t know, FORM is an acronym for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money. It’s based on the concept that as advisors, we need to know as much as we can about the first three areas for our most important clients before we can focus on the money.

In my case, I am married to Kim Hamilton for over 34 years. Kim is a successful business owner and together we have 4 adult children and 3 grandkids. In my free time, I play guitar and sing in a country music band here in Chicago.

Blog Posting Image
2019-03-19 18:24:52 • 3 minute read

Legendary personal and business development philosopher and speaker Jim Rohn often said that "The winds of opportunity blow the same for all of us. The difference that separates the best from the rest is how they set their sails."

As a financial professional, you invest a lot of time with your clients helping them face the future with confidence thanks to your investment planning process. The question is, do you yourself have a plan - both personally and professionally - and have you set specific goals for where you see yourself in the future?

The following is a simple process called W5 that you can use to get your vision for the future out of your head and onto paper, or in a journal. Many advisors have told me that they have used this format as a complement to their goal setting approach with their clients with great results too. It's also very effective to use with kids to get them visualizing a blueprint for the future.

* WHAT are you grateful for? With so much emphasis on the future, it's easy to overlook what we've accomplished to this point in our lives. The elusive goal called "balance" suggests that we be both ambitious and content. Gratitude allows you to savour your accomplishments and fuel your aspiration to higher levels. It's a good place to start and the outcome is a double win.

* Where do you see yourself in the future? - Be all encompassing as you create a wish list. Many people focus just on production and income goals but ultimately make us valuable. It's an important piece of the puzzle but really a means to an end. Write as many items as you can as you go through this step.

* When do you hope to accomplish these goals? Simply walk through your wish list and define them with specific timelines of 6 months, 1, 3 and 5 year goals. Then identify one or two that you feel would have the most profound impact on your life when you achieve it or them.

* Why is this so important to you? This question asks you to drill down and identify the key motivators that will drive you to see past the obstacles and adversity that you will surely face as you strive to achieve your goals.

* Who do I need to become to achieve this? This is heavy question that requires some soul searching. To turn a dream into a reality you'll have to elevate yourself out of your current mold. As the saying goes, "After all is said and done, more is often said than done." The results we'll achieve in 2018 won't change much from 2017 if we don't change. Which leads us to the ultimate reality check:

* How will I accomplish my goals? You'll need an action plan to achieve a breakthrough. We've all fallen into the "Illusion of Skill" that suggested that through talent, perseverance and brute force alone we can accomplish bigger and better things. Without a guidance system though, we tend to drift or spin our wheels and mistake motion for action. If you want to sell your business for maximum value in three years, you'll have to get the business out of your head and your assistant’s head, and create a procedures manual that can lead to predictable, sustainable and duplicable systems that the buyer of your business will pay a premium for. If you want a higher quality and quantity of referrals you'll need a service matrix to ensure the top 20% of your clients get 80% of your attention. If you want to simplify your life, you may need to right-size and lay out a process to disassociate yourself from clients that are not a good fit. That all probably sounds like work to you, but if the "why" is clear and concise, the "how" will get that much easier.

And that is the power of well-rounded goal setting process.

Continued Success,

Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-03-14 15:12:02 • 2 minute read

Implement the process, and the results will come.

From one of my trusted consultants Robyne Zimmerman: www.paretosystems.com/coach-robyne-zimmerman

"An email from my client read:

We want to personally thank you for all your efforts, as we are definitely enjoying the results from the whole Pareto process. It must give you great satisfaction for making a big difference with the many teams you have coached over the years.

I really do get satisfaction from having such a big impact with the teams I work with. Our major focus when engaging with our clients is implementation. When I can help my clients to implement, the results come, each and every time. To hear feedback like this is great validation for the process, but it’s the clients that are doing the heavy lifting and who are the major reason they are seeing their success.

It puts a smile on my face knowing that the work we do really does make a difference in their lives and in their office. Not many people can say that about a job that they do - that they're able to really make a difference. It's not a job for a job sake. I thrive on it. I love it and it makes it all worthwhile.”

Learn more about becoming Pareto Certified: www.paretocoachesnetwork.com

Blog Posting Image
2019-03-12 18:37:02 • 3 minute read

One of our clients, Perry has been in the business for about four years, and manages the assets of about 200 households. Perry heard about the concept of doing a Client Advisory Council some time ago, but really couldn't picture what the outcome would be, and as a result, procrastinated about doing one. After attending a session with a Pareto Systems’ speaker, however, he liked what he heard and decided to take the plunge.

A Client Advisory Council (CAC) is an elite group of your very best clients. The group meets regularly to act as a “board of directors” to help you shape your business. They act as a forum for exploring customer service ideas. Another advantage of the Council is that it gives you the opportunity to spoil your top clients rotten. A CAC can be anything from a lavish dinner to--well, you name it. The sky is really the limit. After all, the more fun CAC events are, the more likely you are to exceed expectations, and the more likely it is that your best clients will talk about these events with their family and friends. This will, in turn, stimulate referrals.

Perry’s experience with the CAC is typical of the stories we hear from our clients. Perry told me that he recognizes that a lot of advisors seem to think this kind of activity is frivolous. Plus, though he was pretty sure he was doing a good job with his clients, before the CAC he had some trepidation about what he was going to hear. However, now that the dust has settled, he says the council was the best thing he ever did for his business.

So, what happened that night? Perry said that his clients left feeling extremely secure and positive about their choice of advisor, and that he left feeling totally empowered about the way he was running his business. In fact, towards the end of the evening, when Perry asked the question "have I earned the right for you to recommend me to your friends and family?" he said his clients started trying to one-up each other with referral suggestions! He said it was basically a mutual admiration scenario. It was the perfect environment to competitor-proof his clients and to reinforce his recommendation process.

By the way, Perry is going to be hold another CAC meeting in 6 months, and his manager now wants to do one as well.

Hopefully, you find Perry’s experiences inspiring and you want to host your own Client Advisory Council so that you too can develop your business, competitor-proof your best clients, and enjoy a steady stream of quality, qualified referrals.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-03-05 18:35:29 • 3 minute read
“Unlocking my client’s potential and achieving liberation and order in their life, is my guiding principal.” - Marci Fried

Marci Fried- Strategic Consultant/Professional Speaker

I have the advantage of partnering exclusively with a select group of highly skilled and successful teams, therefore their experiences provide insight that might otherwise not surface and I believe it is my responsibility to share these insights. 

As a seasoned Business Advisor, my responsibility is to listen, consider and when appropriate, point out fine tuning opportunities to our Advisors and their teams using learning moments and challenges to step back, slow down and focus in on what makes their clients tick.

Something to consider: 

I have been speaking with our Advisors and their teams about year-end volatility and why this was perceived as different. 

All my teams without exception, felt confident that they had positioned their clients prior to December 2018, that the likelihood of volatility was evident, while at the same time staying focused on the “plan” and the “process”. They all agreed that focusing on what they could control – as per Shoot Your Trailer - and firmly positioning the team as their client’s personal CFO (Complete Family Office), was firmly in place. Why, then were they receiving calls from a number of their best clients concerned about their year-end statements? The answer, as they knew, was December 2018. 

Why was this year-end different? Or was it not different at all? 

We all are familiar with the classic Ibbotson Chart, and have heard story after story. You think to yourself ‘well if you think it’s bad this time around, you only need to look back at other significant events including the Kennedy assassination, the crash of ‘97, and so on.’ 

The point is, it’s not if something will happen, it’s only a matter of when. It is essential to have a plan and a process; stay the course and when necessary fine tune, based on the direction the clients’ lives take, as their life unfolds and their needs evolve. 

Again, was this year different or not? 

I believed one of my Advisors tapped into the essence of why clients may have viewed this time differently, and it is rooted in behavior. 

Clients are confident that their Advisor and their team serve as their personal CFO and that goes hand-in-glove with monitoring their progress (i.e. Monthly Statements) but the year-end statement, in particular the month of December, was different. Remember, too, that in many cases the client will be sharing their year-end statement with their accountant, who will have their own commentary. This is where we witnessed unprecedented levels of volatility. It was stunning. Even the most seasoned client could not help but notice the jaw-dropping numbers, regardless of how prepared they were for volatility, but that was the reality of December 2018. Fast forward a matter of weeks to January 2019 and the trajectory was forward and up.  

This may have addressed why this behavior surfaced, but in hindsight, what could the Advisors and their teams have done to prepare for the December/January statement reality? This is where we find a learning opportunity, a moment to reflect and put into place a process for addressing the inevitable.  

Thinking with the end in mind, our Advisors and their teams by nature always seek to raise the bar in terms of the client experience. We need to be reminded to never take anything for granted in terms of what the client may be thinking and feeling, the Law of Familiarity is a reality and with this in mind we need ensure that we convey clarity, confidence and conviction.

To paraphrase Andrew Grove, author of Only the Paranoid Survive; regardless of the Advisor’s positioning leading up to December, clients may have listened, perhaps even prepared in their mind, but human behavior is strong. It can take over and make the reasonable sound unreasonable. 

We have a philosophy at Pareto Systems: The voice of our Advisors and their teams are the most important voice we listen to. I would like to share a recent conversation I had with one of our teams around this topic. 

“We have had a number of conversations with our clients and continue to schedule appointments with our best clients. We believe that it is imperative to get out in front of issues that impact our clients, and naturally the January statement was one of those topics we needed to address. We follow Duncan and use the Pareto strategies and resources to reinforce our messaging. We have our Agenda, we acknowledge their concerns and then we get back to what we can control. Our mission is to keep all this in context, basically not leaving our clients to their own devices, which could negatively impact their plan for years to come. We remind them that we never lose sight of what is most important to them and we circle back to stories around their family, occupation and recreational pursuits. We continue to keep the focus on their aspirations and goals. We address the “how”, we will continue to work together as their lives unfold and needs evolve and that the beauty of our Process, which is designed to address the ebb and flow as their life unfolds and needs evolve. We then shift to the Strategy and Tactical Review Meeting Agenda items and we get them back on track and excited about their future. We have a process.” 

Marci Fried: Pareto Systems Certified Consultant | Franchise Ready Specialist-Scalability | Enterprise Relationship Specialist -Train the Trainer | Practice and Relationship Team Management Expert, powered by the Pareto System.

Learn more about Marci: https://www.paretosystems.com/coach-marci-fried.html

Blog Posting Image
2019-02-26 16:49:54 • 3 minute read

How Being Interested Makes You More Interesting

Whether you’re speaking to a client or a strategic partner, you can improve your refer-ability by getting them to think about their own refer-ability. When you’re having a conversation, ask them this question:

“The next time I’m talking to someone and the opportunity to wave your flag comes up, how would you like me to describe you?”

There is a good chance that your client or partner will say:

“I appreciate that. No one has ever asked me that before, but come to think about it the best thing to say would be this...”

You can then drill-down a bit and validate your question by saying:

“That’s perfect. I’m asking you this because I have a pretty vast network and I’m always looking to make introductions where I see an opportunity and potential fit.”

Inevitably your client or partner will ask:

“What is the best way for me to describe you when I get the opportunity in the future?”

This gives you permission to restate your value proposition and reinforce your personal branding strategy. You might say:

“Thanks for asking. As you know, I manage the wealth of a select few successful business owners across the country using a process that we’ve developed and refined through many cycles and market conditions.”

If they inquire further, you can remind them that you make yourself available as a sounding board should they ever feel compelled to introduce a friend, family member or client to you in the future.

In keeping with not looking needy, frame the reminder with this phrase: This is part of our process. It’s a value-added service our clients find to be of benefit.

Ultimately, this approach needs to be driven by a professional philosophy and mindset, not as a gimmick or tactic to drive sales. Sure, capitalism is rooted in self-interest, networking and endorsements, but you are trying to create a culture of value and awareness for referrals. That can be supported by proper positioning.

There is an old saying that giving starts the receiving process. The world is round and positive actions come back full circle to us in time. The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t make you look needy and congruently supports the premise of positioning a referral as a service you provide. It conveys your mindset: You like to identify opportunities where there might be an alignment of interests. In the process you attract referrals rather than chase them.

It’s good karma to be looking out for your clients and partners while demonstrating that you are interested in them and are bringing value to them. The concept of advocacy appeals to our core drivers as business professionals. Think about it. When you ask someone the question, “How’s business?” often, after they respond, they will ask you how business is for you.

Let me add one more scenario to reinforce this concept. Think of your favorite wholesaler. Sure, he or she knows their stuff and works for a good firm that provides good returns, but that isn’t why he or she is your favorite wholesaler. They are your favorite because they are interested in your business and are often trying to add value beyond just good rates of returns.

The most consistent professionals in this business, who thrive in all conditions, don’t live solely by the performance sword. They stand out and differentiate by being interested in their clients. This not only makes you memorable and referable - it makes you indispensable, too.

Continued Success,

Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-02-19 17:20:07 • 3 minute read

Be Organized & Professional: Use an Agenda

An Agenda is instrumental in ensuring you deliver a consistent and professional financial planning review meeting process. It’s really not that difficult to implement. And, once you start to see the benefits it creates in terms of simplifying both meeting preparation and delivery, you’ll be hooked. Not only that, your clients will take immediate notice of your more structured and organized approach to meeting with them. Who knows, maybe some of those ‘hard to get in’ clients won’t be so difficult any more. This could be exactly what they were waiting for. 

When you provide an agenda to each meeting participant, you are signalling the beginning of the business part of the meeting. Therefore, before you do so, be sure you start the meeting off with some rapport building with the client. Establishing rapport is important to set a positive tone before diving into business. Limit this to no more than 5 minutes and then begin the meeting. 

Here’s an overview of how to walk through our standard review meeting agenda.   

  1. Meeting Overview. You need to begin by providing a brief overview of the meeting, which simply means walking the client through the bulleted topics on the agenda. The “Meeting Overview” should be at the top of all of your agendas.
  2. Introducing Us to Others. It is important to remind your clients in a consistent way that you have a defined process for how others are introduced to you. That way, when your client knows someone who could benefit from your services, they will already understand the process you have for bringing them on. Remember, this is not an ask; it’s an educate. There is a profound difference. And, for that reason, be sure you cover this part of your meeting in a very matter of fact, low key manner. Although this topic only takes a couple of minutes to cover, it’s very important and can have a significant impact on the quantity and quality of introductions you receive from your existing clients. We recommend you develop a script to follow and commit it to memory.   It is also important to note this agenda topic is deliberately at the front of the meeting agenda and should stay there. This process is important and you don’t want it to be perceived as an after thought. The “Introducing Us to Others” should be included on all of your agendas.
  3. Our Approach. Next you need to take a few minutes to quickly review with your client your financial planning approach. Again, this serves as a reminder and ensures we don’t take for granted that they know all that we do. This reinforcement ensures that when speaking to others about you, your clients are very clear about the types of financial planning services you provide. We also recommend you develop a script to follow and commit it to memory. This item should also be included on all agendas.
  4. Review Your Clients Goals and Objectives. Here’s where the financial advisor focus ends and the client focus begins. You should begin with a quick recap of the goals and objectives of your client. This will reinforce the long-term focus of your financial planning services; it’s the “why” that supports the “how” in what you do. It will also provide you with an opportunity to capture any relevant changes with respect to their goals and objectives, which may impact the financial strategies you implement on their behalf. This is important for you to continue to do the best job possible for your client.
  5. Strategy Review. This is a main part of the meeting where you would review all of the financial strategies you are implementing on their behalf. This may include the following types of strategies: retirement savings, educational savings, family security, insurance and estate planning – and anything else you are implementing on their behalf. Of course, any concerns or changes you would recommend about these various strategies would be discussed at this time. Similarly, we would expect any clients to discuss with you the concerns or questions they have about any of the strategies you are implementing for them.       
  6. Investment Update. This is where you provide an update specific to their investment strategies.  This can involve more detail and may or may not evoke questions from your clients. Any changes you recommend to their investments would be communicated at this time. 
  7. New Business. This provides everyone with an opportunity to discuss items not included on the standard agenda. This is an important feature to ensure clients know their financial planning concerns and issues will be discussed and/or addressed in the context of their review meeting. It also allows you to record any new items that need future follow up.
  8. Where Do We Go From Here? At the conclusion of the meeting you can wind up by letting them know what happens next. This may be one of the following scenarios:
  • Everything is fine and you look forward to seeing them at their next financial planning review meeting in six months or a year (however frequent their review happens to be scheduled). Make sure you tell them you are always available should they have any questions. And, end by letting them know it was a pleasure to see them again.

OR: 

  • Changes are required and will be managed accordingly. This may trigger follow up actions by you, your staff and/or the client. Let your clients know what to expect in terms of their next point of contact on what was discussed: this includes who and when.

It is important to document all follow up items accurately so nothing falls through the cracks. Use your agenda as the place to record follow up action items accordingly. This makes it easier to delegate and hand off to your assistant who can trigger the follow up actions accordingly for those involved. Again, make sure you tell your clients that you are always available should they have any questions through this period of transition while the changes are taking place. Again, end by telling them it was a pleasure to see them again.

You should always conclude each meeting with a “Where do we go from here” type of wrap up. This ensures both you and the client are clear on the next step in the process.

And with that, the review meeting concludes. Everything was covered. You finished on time. You are pleased with the process and even more so, your clients are. It’s clearly a win-win.

Finally, it’s also important to standardize any meeting tools you use during the course of your client review meetings. This might include financial fact finders, questionnaires, reports or process diagrams. So, once you have your agenda templates completed, you can endeavour to tackle that. The more consistency there is in the client meeting process, the better – for everyone. 

Continued success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-02-12 17:56:28 • 3 minute read

Through many market cycles over the years, I’ve been saying that a good financial advisor is at his or her highest level of refer-ability during times of volatility. Money becomes more topical and many people start to have nagging doubts about the track they are on – both in terms of their current advisor and financial plan. As a result, friends and family members will often confide in and then bare their souls to your clients: 

“Are you happy with your financial advisor, because I think I’ve just about had it with mine.” 

Capitalize on this growing stage of readiness so that your clients will feel compelled to shine a light on you at that moment of truth. Trigger a moment of recognition and awareness for your value through proper positioning and imprinting. 

Getting Out in Front 

Call all of your favorite clients. A proactive call can serve as a mid-course correction to prevent them from drifting into a mindset where they fixate on specific products, pricing and performance, back to an enlightened philosophy, panoramic planning strategy and methodical process around financial independence. 

From MORF to FORM 

Be certain that you also bridge your “how” with their “why”. Transition yourself from the traditional Money, Occupation, Recreation and Family approach. Instead, focus on their Family Investment Legacy, their Occupational pursuit to a work optional lifestyle and their Recreational bucket list. This way, you can keep Money as a means to an end. The more they stay focused on why financial independence matters, the more value they will place on how you get them there - and in the process you will de-commoditize yourself. This is essential to keeping clients focused on what matters and what they can control.

Imprint Your Value 

“Just before I let you go, as you can imagine, I’ve been speaking to several clients recently, many of whom have friends and family members who are a bit unsettled and are starting to look to the future with apprehension rather than anticipation. I’m telling you this because I want to remind you that, as a value added service, I will gladly be a sounding board for anyone who is looking for a voice of reason. And keep in mind, they do not need to become a client to take advantage of this service. If they’re important to you, they’re important to me.” 

Act on Their Permission 

Many clients will thank you for your comment. Others will give you permission to elaborate by saying:

“I wasn’t aware that you did that.” 

Tell them WHY you do it – it’s because of your sense of purpose

Tell them WHO you do it for – by defining the person who fits your ideal client profile

Tell them HOW to make an introduction – by demystifying your process 

You ultimately aspire to become a client’s personal CFO, ensuring total client engagement over the lifetime of the relationship. You can’t achieve that by solely being their CIO. They need to know you are a CEO who runs the business like a business, creating a solid client experience, and you need to be a CMO with a marketing, branding and communication process that ensures clients understand and appreciate your value and continually focus on what you’re worth rather than what you cost. 

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-02-05 17:55:45 • 3 minute read

Let me sum up the interplay of branding and process that I have repeatedly touched on.

You want to be perceived as a consultant with a process as opposed to a salesperson with a quota, but you have to define yourself. Tell clients or prospective clients you have a process. Repeat it. Keep reminding them. If you don’t define yourself, you will be defined automatically.

It’s amazing how much trouble many top-caliber advisors have with this issue. Some advisors try so hard to make their value proposition unique that they end up reciting a long-winded elevator speech or mission statement that is, frankly, just a collection of words and sounds like everyone else. The goal isn’t to create something earth shattering or esoteric, the goal is to create something simple and clear while instantly differentiating and elevating you.

When someone gives you the opportunity to explain your value proposition, I want you to ask yourself, “What does this person really want?How you define yourself shouldn’t address what you do in the literal sense, it should address what the person craves; a relationship with an expert who helps them achieve what they aspire to - financial independence and a greater sense of control.

By adding the phrase “I have a process”, you get their attention and you are instantly more attractive and compelling.

This goes beyond how a prospective client perceives you; it also addresses how an existing client describes you. Over time, through consistent communication, your clients will absorb this phraseology and weave it into their conversation when they have the opportunity to describe you to a friend or family member. Wouldn’t it be great if a client shined a light on you by saying,

“You should talk to my advisor. I’ve never felt better about the track I’m on with my investments and, best of all, he has a process to ensure all the pieces of my financial puzzle are in place.”

or

“I’ve had other advisors in the past that didn’t even come close to the professionalism of my current advisor. She has a process to ensure that everything is addressed and her service is impeccable.”

That is just the beginning. A personal branding strategy helps people connect with you on a deeper level. The firm you represent has its own brand, but you need to build a brand within that brand. This adds credibility to your overall brand, but people are connecting with you, the messenger, not just your message in terms of solutions, products or rates of return.

You have to take your branding strategy beyond just the words you verbalize in a value proposition. It has to be integrated into all other forms of communication and every step of your process.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-01-29 19:16:38 • 2 minute read

The Power of the Introductory Kit

If you have read any of my articles, you will know I talk about about the importance of describing what you do for your clients and prospects as a process. Too many advisors, when asked what they do, say things like:

"I help my clients manage their assets and risk."

It has been proven to resonate far better, not to mention be far more memorable, to say:

"I’ve developed and refined a process that enables me to manage my clients’ assets and risk."

When you refer to your approach as a process rather than simply suggesting that you help people, it adds so much persuasive impact to your messaging because it sounds official and organized rather than generic and abstract. You see this all the time in the marketplace where a firm will give something they do a name by basically calling it something. Westin Hotels refer to their beds and showers as Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Showers. I can tell you that I have stayed in a lot of hotels and I'm not sure that their beds are any better than any other comparable hotel but many people are convinced that Heavenly Beds are better. In the minds of many people, every other hotel simply has beds, while Westin has Heavenly Beds - again because that's what they’re called. And, let’s face it, when it comes to selecting one hotel over another a good bed and shower is ultimately what people crave.

As I’ve said, a branding strategy addresses what your clients’ want, not what you do or who you are in the classic sense. So what do your clients want? They want to face the future with anticipation rather than apprehension and they want to feel confident with the track they are on. An advisor with a process projects that far better than an advisor who simply "helps clients...." 

From Vapour to Paper

You can’t stop at just saying you have a process, you have to demonstrate that you actually have one. I say that because advisors ask me all the time, "How can I create this process you keep talking about?You already have a process, the problem is you don’t refer to it as such and you don’t have anything to show them what it looks like. Think about it, when you on-board a new client and align solutions to their needs, you use a process. So start referring to it that way.

I ask coaching clients of ours to sit down and simply get their process out of their heads and on to paper - even in point form. A very effective advisor was shocked to realize that there are actually eight steps to her asset management process. But she never thought of it in those terms before. Now that she has listed out the steps on to a sheet of paper she can now show a client and prospective client with far more persuasive impact. It is now referenced as a bullet point on her agendas and she can help demystify what she does and help people conceptualize her approach and appreciate her more fully by showing them.

Among the many benefits, this is an essential step to ensure that your clients are telling their friends:

"You should meet my advisor, he has an excellent process and he’s a great guy."

As opposed to:

"You should meet my advisor, you’d really like him, he is a great guy."

Your Clients Will Do Your Prospecting for You

Again, your clients can do a great job positioning you in their friends’ minds as an ideal alternative to their current advisor and begin creating a nagging feeling in their minds that you are a far superior option.

You can take that one step further by providing an Introductory Kit as part of your introduction process. This is as important for the client referring as it is for the prospecting you are hoping to attract. For example, when you say to a client:

"If you ever have a friend or family member that you would like to introduce to me, simply call me to get the wheels in motion and I will put them into my introductory process. I’ll reach out and have a brief initial conversation, I’ll send out my introductory kit so they can get to know me a little better in advance and then I’ll carve out the time to meet with them to get to know them better and be a sounding board to help them make some informed decisions."

Your clients can envision this in their mind’s eye and describe you in a more compelling way. Your prospect gets to hold something in their hands and gets to know you a bit before they even meet you (and send it via 2-day courier to elevate its importance and increase the value the person places on the upcoming meeting). Of course, you further validate your professionalism by providing a printed agenda in the initial discovery meeting, and outlining your on-board process and personal financial organizing binder in the fit meeting. Again, tangible things they can hold in their hands that reinforce that you have a process. All of this has been proven to enhance a prospective client’s motivation to take action. You don't have to convince them with a closing strategy, the prospective client comes to his or her own conclusion.

I'm not suggesting that your clients will start referring to you as their Heavenly Advisor, but I can guarantee that their description of you will be far more effective than before. I can also guarantee that your prospective clients will perceive you as a professional with a process and will be drawn to you like never before.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-01-22 18:47:30 • 3 minute read

Take a moment to think back to the last time you stumbled upon a fabulous idea. Maybe this new concept was about your financial practice or maybe it had more of a domestic spin to it. Regardless of the idea, the all-important question is whether you followed through with your plan. I would bet that you achieved some of your initial goal but that your progress stalled somewhere down the line.

What happened? Was it that you were too busy to get your idea off the ground? Perhaps there was a major change in your life that had you side-tracked. Regardless of the specific details causing you to leave your plan unfinished, your inactivity can be attributed to the “Law of Diminishing Intent.”

In simple terms, the Law of Diminishing Intent states that when it comes to finishing a task that seems absolutely crucial at one moment, our motivation wanes at about the same rate as the task’s significance in relation to other aspects of our life and business. This is largely due to the fact that the emotion associated with the action dwindles, causing the motivation required to finish the project to fade.

A classic example of the Law of Diminishing Intent unfolds every year on New Year’s Day. January 1st is a time of new beginnings. On this day, we are highly motivated to put negative thoughts, habits, or character flaws behind us. We commit to change and dutifully begin to follow our resolutions. Perhaps we start a new exercise regime, decide to establish a new work ethic or to implement organizational plan. Despite these good ideas, the rest of our lives eventually get in the way and we fall back into our old routine a few months (or weeks or even days!) later. When it’s all said and done, we chalk it up to a good try and resume our old ways.

What does it take to move forward with a new plan -- to make sure nothing stands in the way of our success? When you decide you want to start something new, be sure to ask yourself whether you really want to accomplish your goal in the first place. It is possible that, subconsciously, you are sabotaging your success even before you start. It could be that in the back of your mind, you might already know that you don’t have the infrastructure in place to maintain your success once the task is completed. The first thing you must determine is whether you have what it takes to finish such a task. You also need to identify whether the result will ultimately improve your situation.

Consider, for example, that you decide it’s time to take the bull by the horns and do everything you can to grow your business. You resolve that the easiest way to increase your assets under management is to multiply your number of introductions. However, in the back of your mind you are not sure how to handle an influx of business. You’re already running at maximum and are a little nervous about the outcome of more business. Chances are that because you are a little wary of the outcome of your plan, you are not going to give this new resolution the energy it requires for completion.

Once you have decided that your goal is indeed one you want to achieve, it is imperative that you take action right away. You need to get the ball rolling while you are still excited and motivated; before your attention is drawn to different areas. The sooner you put your plan into action, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.

It also makes sense to start your quest in logical order to make sure everything runs smoothly every step of the way. In the example above, before increasing your number of clients, it would be wise to implement ways to handle the new business.

So to avoid the losses associated with the Law of Diminishing Intent, make sure to take action right away. Decide that the goal is one you want to achieve. Then look at your plan logically and confirm that you are pursuing your goals in the best order. And establish milestones so that you can mark your progress and remain motivated to reach your goal.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-01-15 18:19:19 • 3 minute read

From a philosophical perspective, one of the most important qualities in an advisor is in having a mindset that says "My goal is not to see how big I can get, but rather how small I can stay." That sounds like a contradiction from a buyer’s perspective. Why else would someone want to buy a business other than to grow, rather than do it methodically and organically? It's still a great idea to accelerate growth through acquisition but the focal point should be on the quality of the clients, not the quantity. An advisor who was disciplined in only attracting advisors who were a good fit rather than accepting anyone with a pulse, is the ideal advisor to purchase a business from. The same holds true in terms of selling a business to an advisor with a similar mindset because ultimately you know your clients will be transitioned and on-boarded professionally and will enjoy a very soft landing thus ensuring the sellers legacy in the process.

Consistency is Crucial

Advisors who tend to consistently attract the same type of clients in terms of average asset size and other commonalities is another item on the ideal alignment checklist. The average size of the client and the platform they are on, is more important than the overall amount of AUM the selling advisor has.

Within the Same Firm

For a variety of reasons it is also a good idea to align with an advisor within the firm you are with. That's not to say that there can't be exceptions, but the clients have a degree of comfort and familiarity with the firm's systems and procedures, and fewer disruptions in terms of trust, optics and deliverables contributes to the clients’ confidence in the transition.

Maverick Talent vs. Documented Procedures

The ideal business to acquire, and the ideal advisor to sell your business to, share a common thread in terms of a good fit: they operate a business on a foundation of best practices. The business is not in their heads, it is documented in a playbook. There is an allocation of time that is tied to client classification and a service matrix. Compliance history is solid because clients are receiving proactive and reactive service that is consistent. The advisor uses a CRM that ensures that relationship history is archived and KYC (Know Your Client) is accessible easily.

How Did They Start Relationships?

The ideal financial services professional uses a fit a process rather than a sales process. He or she doesn't try to convince someone to become a client, he or she establishes an alignment between the person’s needs and the advisor’s solutions. Their clients are enlightened and in synch with the advisor’s mindset about wealth management. Other questions as part of the dual-track due-diligence process are:

  • What is the client acquisition history in terms referral genealogy?
  • What percentage of their clients were referred from the 20% who generate 80% of the business vs. From the 80% who generate just 20% of the business?
  • What percentage of their business was organically acquired vs. absorbed from within the branch or acquired by purchase?
  • Were cold-calling, mass marketing and seminars used to acquire clients?
  • What percentage of their clients are actually partial customers who dabble with other providers vs. fully empowering clients?
  • What is their process to communicate their services professionally to consistently attract new money as it goes into motion?
  • Do they have meaningful "two-way street" relationships with accountants, lawyers and other partners?

Fees vs. Commissions

Many people have oversimplified this by saying that the best business to buy is one that consists of clients who have bought-in to a fee-based compensation model. What it really comes down to is the degree of communication the advisor has used and their consistency to ensure the clients are competitor proofed making them either fee-worthy or commission worthy. Whether they receive commissions for advice, or fees for management, is secondary. The bottom line is there will be more sellers than buyers and consequently there will be many fee-based businesses for sale in the future and not all of them will be worth acquiring.

Entering the Retirement or Acquisition Red-Zone

Whenever we coach an advisor on performing solid due-diligence on a potential buyer or seller, a common response is as follows: "This sounds like work!" And it is, but use the potential of a multiplied ROI as the beacon that helps you see past the hurdles and noise that will try to conspire against you. Much of the value of the business you are trying to acquire or sell is intangible and abstract especially if it isn't defined or documented. Get out in front of the process, get your intellectual properties out of your head, and subscribe to the maxim that says "Done is Better than Perfect." As I've said before - and contrary to the old cliche - time is NOT money! Your time is more valuable than money because once it's spent you can't earn it back. Invest your time in a process and put the odds in your favor. We've seen first-hand where an advisor invested 6 to 12 months of sweat equity into the business to position it to be sold and then multiplied their outcome meaningfully. We've also seen how a well prepared acquisition and methodical transition multiplied the profitability of the combined practice measurably as well. Either way, deploy a process and execute with precision and you will unlock more value.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2019-01-08 18:01:11 • 3 minute read

Each week I spend a considerable amount of time speaking to clients, answering their questions and suggesting possible courses of action. Without a doubt, one of the most frequent pieces of advice I offer is to keep going. Keep going with structured and reliable call rotations, keep mailing letters to your clients and prospects, keep communicating with your inside champions and/or Client Advisory Council, and keep the faith that you will realize a breakthrough.

Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that because you work with people similar to your target market, those people will want to hand you their investment portfolios. You cannot get around the fact that you are a stranger to them, so you have to take time to build familiarity and create in them the desire to meet you, and the desire to know what you believe in as a person and a financial professional.

Above all else be interesting and patient

In your written pieces, identify with your readers. If you know that most people are busy and reluctant to read a stranger’s newsletter or emails, state that fact right off the top. By doing just this one thing, you already distinguish yourself from every nearly other financial advisor.

Always try to send an interesting magazine article or newspaper clipping with your paper communications, or links to informative articles with your email communications. It will highlight as much about your client service as it does your professional services. A popular article used by several of our clients outlines the pros and cons of buying versus leasing a vehicle. While it may not seem like much, your prospect will come to understand over time that things like this separate you from other financial advisors.

Consider the effect of an article with a personal note that reads:

I recently met with a couple and, among other things, we discussed their plans to replace their existing car. After the meeting, I searched my article library on my computer and found this item to send them. It helped these particular clients decide between leasing or buying. I hope that when the time comes, you will find it helpful as well. Keep it handy.

Other article ideas include health and fitness, vacation destinations around your area, on-line directories of local businesses and restaurants, etc.... Do not fall into the trap of ‘sameness’, and send another article on mutual funds or other strictly investment-related content. 

Don’t stop sending until they ask you to

So what happens when you invite people to one of your social or open-house type events and they don’t come? Well, you could choose to ignore them, but that won’t get them ‘in the door’ for an initial discussion. I suggest that you follow-up with them via email or letter and tell them that you were sorry you didn’t see them there, that a great time was had by all, and that a lot of information was shared. Pass along a few of the questions that were asked together with the answers, and then point to your next event or remind them you are always available to meet to act as a sounding board on their investment and retirement plans. 

As we stated near the beginning of the article, keep going, and ensure you keep differentiating yourself, and positioning yourself as a professional so that you will attract them when you reach them at their correct stage of readiness.

Continued success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-12-26 18:11:51 • 3 minute read

If you have read any of my articles, you will know I talk about about the importance of describing what you do for your clients and prospects as a process. Too many advisors, when asked what they do, say things like:

"I help my clients manage their assets and risk."

It has been proven to resonate far better, not to mention be far more memorable, to say:

"I've developed and refined a process that enables me to manage my clients’ assets and risk."

When you refer to your approach as a process rather than simply suggesting that you help people, it adds so much persuasive impact to your messaging because it sounds official and organized rather than generic and abstract. You see this all the time in the marketplace where a firm will give something they do a name by basically calling it something. Westin Hotels refer to their beds and showers as Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Showers. I can tell you that I've stayed in a lot of hotels and I'm not sure that their beds are any better than any other comparable hotel but many people are convinced that Heavenly Beds are better. In the minds of many people, every other hotel simply has beds, while Westin has Heavenly Beds - again because that's what they're called. And, let's face it, when it comes to selecting one hotel over another a good bed and shower is ultimately what people crave.

As I've said, a branding strategy addresses what your clients’ want, not what you do or who you are in the classic sense. So what do your clients want? They want to face the future with anticipation rather than apprehension and they want to feel confident with the track they are on. An advisor with a process projects that far better than an advisor who simply "helps clients...." 

From Vapour to Paper

You can't stop at just saying you have a process, you have to demonstrate that you actually have one. I say that because advisors ask me all the time, "How can I create this process you keep talking about?You already have a process, the problem is you don't refer to it as such and you don't have anything to show them what it looks like. Think about it, when you on-board a new client and align solutions to their needs, you use a process. So start referring to it that way.

I ask coaching clients of ours to sit down and simply get their process out of their heads and on to paper - even in point form. A very effective advisor was shocked to realize that there are actually eight steps to her asset management process. But she never thought of it in those terms before. Now that she has listed out the steps on to a sheet of paper she can now show a client and prospective client with far more persuasive impact. It is now referenced as a bullet point on her agendas and she can help demystify what she does and help people conceptualize her approach and appreciate her more fully by showing them.

Among the many benefits, this is an essential step to ensure that your clients are telling their friends:

"You should meet my advisor, he has an excellent process and he's a great guy."

As opposed to:

"You should meet my advisor, you'd really like him, he is a great guy."

Your Clients Will Do Your Prospecting for You

Again, your clients can do a great job positioning you in their friends’ minds as an ideal alternative to their current advisor and begin creating a nagging feeling in their minds that you are a far superior option.

You can take that one step further by providing an Introductory Kit as part of your introduction process. This is as important for the client referring as it is for the prospecting you are hoping to attract. For example, when you say to a client:

"If you ever have a friend or family member that you would like to introduce to me, simply call me to get the wheels in motion and I will put them into my introductory process. I'll reach out and have a brief initial conversation, I'll send out my introductory kit so they can get to know me a little better in advance and then I'll carve out the time to meet with them to get to know them better and be a sounding board to help them make some informed decisions."

Your clients can envision this in their mind’s eye and describe you in a more compelling way. Your prospect gets to hold something in their hands and gets to know you a bit before they even meet you (and send it via 2-day courier to elevate its importance and increase the value the person places on the upcoming meeting). Of course, you further validate your professionalism by providing a printed agenda in the initial discovery meeting, and outlining your on-board process and personal financial organizing binder in the fit meeting. Again, tangible things they can hold in their hands that reinforce that you have a process. All of this has been proven to enhance a prospective client’s motivation to take action. You don't have to convince them with a closing strategy, the prospective client comes to his or her own conclusion.

I'm not suggesting that your clients will start referring to you as their Heavenly Advisor, but I can guarantee that their description of you will be far more effective than before. I can also guarantee that your prospective clients will perceive you as a professional with a process and will be drawn to you like never before.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-12-04 18:14:04 • 3 minute read

A Goal Setting Process for You and Your Clients

Does it boggle your mind that the movie E.T. hit the theaters 36 years ago?  Do you shake your head when you consider that Black Monday occurred 31 years ago?  From my perspective, that time span seems like a blink of the eye. But here is the surreal part: as fast as the last 25 years whipped by, I'm convinced that the next 25 are going to zip by even faster.

With that in mind, and considering that 2018 is winding down, this week's article revolves around the importance of goal setting and a simple process for designing your vision of the ideal future.  My suggestion is that you set aside some time to walk through this process to galvanize your thoughts on paper.  If you have a team, you might want to consider an off-site team meeting and incorporate this into a team goal-setting session.  And lastly, many advisors have told me that they've adapted this approach into conversations with clients to create a more panoramic approach to help them set personal, professional and family goals to focus on what really matters to them.

Long ago, I learned of a perfect metaphor related to designing your future:

It's not the winds of opportunity that determine our level of success, it's the set of the sail.

I've learned that if we don't decide what direction we want to head in, the winds will decide for us.  Maximum achievement is by design, not by chance.  Sure it is nice to have a tailwind, but we can't rely on external dependencies.  Life is about choices, and truly accomplished people will tell you that documenting your goals is one of the best decisions you can make.

When we coach a client of ours through a personal goal-setting consultation, we have a simple, sequential process to get their wheels turning.  W5 is a framework that you can use, and it consists of these questions: What, Where, When, Why and Who. These can be a good starting point.  As you get on a roll, you can drill down and then use what you've written down as a tool to help you navigate 2019 and stay on course.

What Are You Grateful For?

One of the best ways to slow life down a bit is to reflect on the past before you plan for the future.  There is so much emphasis placed on achieving new goals that we can often trivialize what we've already achieved.  The most effective, well-rounded people possess a unique blend of perpetual ambition and palpable contentment.  The very essence of a Zen lifestyle is that you could live to be 100, or it could all be over tomorrow.  When you savour your successes, you create a foundation of peace and fulfillment.  Ironically, this activates a new level of appreciation for your value and self-motivation for your untapped potential.

This process also helps you distill everything down to what ultimately matters in your life. You can tune out the noise and do mid-course corrections in case you've drifted away from your core purpose.

It reminds you of the importance of loving what you do.  It's hard to improve on your skills and the value you are bringing, if you don't love what you do.

And finally, I believe that gratitude amplifies other important qualities to pure success in life.  Forgiveness, self-responsibility and humility are the wellspring of a balanced life that result in an inspiring legacy.  I was told long ago that lessons can be learned from every person’s code of conduct.  Every life is either a warning or an example.

Where Do You See Yourself?

Once you've looked back and reflected on your accomplishments to this point in your life, you can then invest the past into the future and create a wish list of achievements you'd like to make in the years ahead.  The key here is to pour it all out.  List out everything you'd like to accomplish going forward.  How much do you want to earn?  Where do you want to travel to?  What do you want to acquire?  What do you want to get better at?  Get it out of your head and put it all on paper.  Take your time and marvel at all that is possible for you.

When Do You Want to Accomplish This?

Once you've created your wish list, start putting timelines beside everything you've written down.  You should create a spectrum of 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals and beyond.  Then I'd like you to circle three items that you feel you can accomplish in the next 3 years.  These should be the goals that are of paramount importance to you and will become the beacon to help you see past short term obstacles and setbacks.

Why Is This So Important To You?

Ultimately you are going to need to create a plan to help determine HOW you are going to accomplish your goals.  But something that is just as important as the HOW is the WHY.  As legendary personal and business development guru Jim Rohn often said, "The How is the process, the Why is the purpose.  When the WHY is clear in your mind, the HOW becomes that much easier."  This process is what amplifies your personal drive and sense of purpose.

Who Do You Need to Become?

Many people focus primarily on monetary goals when they go through this process initially.  In time though, they realize that while how much one earns is important, it isn't the key factor to success in life.  It's not what we earn that makes us valuable, it's who we become as a person.  So the last number in the combination to unlocking your full potential so you can breakthrough any self-imposed plateau is to focus on the skills you need to develop.  We have to make the time to develop ourselves.  If we want to earn more, we have to learn more.  If we want to become all that we can, we have to continually improve our skills.  To paraphrase Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we can never convince ourselves that we are too busy cutting wood that we never have time to sharpen our saws.

This is especially important during times when the world seems to be focusing on all that is wrong.  It's easy to get faked out and look to the future with apprehension rather than anticipation.  But you can't control any of those issues. We can't hope for conditions to get better or easier.  We have to get better and focus on what we can control.  As I often tell my kids, the best ten 2-letter words ever put together in a personal pledge are these, "If it is to be, it is up to me!"

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-11-27 18:15:00 • 3 minute read

Don't Sell a Book, Sell a Business

Many advisors who sell a financial services practice are really only selling a book of business, not an actual business. What is the difference between a 1X transaction and a 2X or better multiplied transaction? Well clearly one of the most important issues is the quality of the client relationships. That has been proven to be just as important as the quality of their assets. How loyal are the clients based on how they have been served to this point of the relationship? Have they simply bought investments, or are they bought-into a professional process? Metrics on empowerment, referrals, demographics and commonalities, commissions vs. fees and several other issues are key as well. 

Put Time on Your Side

The bottom line is it is essential that you get out-front and be well prepared to multiply the value of the asset and make the outcome as smooth and predictable as possible. Deploying a process demystifies the experience and ensures there is minimal opportunity leakage and that you don't squander your time.

There are More Sellers Than Buyers

As a seller, when you tighten up your business through organization and structure as well as essential best practices, you unlock hidden value in your business that differentiates you from all the others with similar aspirations. In 12 months or less you can execute a panoramic practice management process that a suitor will recognize as extremely valuable. Remember what a buyer wants; only pleasant surprises. They want the transition to be smooth, and the integration into their core business to be virtually effortless.

Many buyers in the past have acquired sketchy books thinking there was a vein of gold or all kinds of low hanging fruit just waiting to be uncovered. As a result, the buyer was fixated on the price of the acquisition rather than the quality of the asset resulting in an outcome that spiraled downward. With the benefit of hindsight came a lot of regret.

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty - Confucius

Remember, quality relationships last long after you paid for them. So get clarity on the issues that will impact your transaction and get organized with a plan and process. As a potential seller, the longer you wait and the less prepared you are, the less value you will get from your asset. Preparation will help you squeeze more juice out of the orange.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-11-20 20:21:59 • 3 minute read

Clients should be loyal to a process not just to a person and performance

Stephen Covey, the legendary author of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, advised that we should always begin with the end in mind. It is for that reason we suggest that you apply a mindset of building a business with the intention of selling it for maximum value at some point in the future.

Your Business Should be Built to be Sold

Even if the thought of selling your business hasn't really crept into your mind, or is a distant vision for many years down the road, it's still a good idea to apply the philosophy of maximizing the equity value in your business on an ongoing basis.

This goes beyond just practice management in the traditional sense. Sure deploying best-practices creates a client experience that generates loyalty and refer-ability. But if you don't document those procedures you are still only trading your time for money. You have a job that ultimately generates an hourly income for you. Don't get me wrong, you can earn a tremendous living that way but you still want to keep an eye on the prize - maximizing the equity value of your business beyond just Trailing Twelve Months (TTM).

Beyond Trailing Twelve Months

The best business is one that earns you a living and builds your legacy. This dual-track stems from creating and deploying predictable, sustainable and duplicable procedures that are documented in a playbook and are consistently implemented. This creates the consistency that your clients crave that insulates them from competitive factors and other issues beyond your control. But the double-win is that when it eventually comes time to sell your business, the suitor realizes your clients are loyal to your process, not just to you and the performance you generate. Additionally, they realize that your procedures have not only created a durable business - he or she can also apply your procedures to their existing business. 1+1 really can actually equal 3.

When it comes to maximizing a business valuation, the buyer wants to ensure continuity through and beyond the acquisition process. When all of your processes are documented in your playbook, and you present a transitional process to professionally communicate with clients well in advance of the transition, predictability elevates. And this applies even if you plan to sell just a portion of your business through a right-sizing process.

The Rule of 3

Every action you do three or more times and that has three or more steps in the process, should be documented in your playbook. Get everything out of your head and the heads of your team members. The benefits of a playbook go beyond just consistency and continuity. The efforts compound over time creating momentum - regardless of who is deploying them. If a business is driven by maverick talent - talented people who operate daily out of their heads - the value is lower than a business driven by the procedures contained in a playbook. Remember, the faces on your team may change over time but the processes remain.

That's not to say that you will always remain on auto pilot after you create a playbook. The Law of Optimization suggests that every process can be refined over time. It's funny, when I ask an advisor "Why do you do things that way?" The answer is often the same: "That's the way we've always done it." They unconsciously drifted into a pattern and then arrived at a set-it-and-forget-it mode. Einstein was right when he defined insanity as being the repetition of an action over time and expecting a different outcome. This explains why many advisors who have been in the business for 15 years really have one year of experience 15 times. Sure they are making a living, but they aren't building a business that is valued for more than the industry average.

Let Pareto Systems help you create a playbook to harness and deploy the true value of best practices. The value of your business will increase and so too will the fulfillment you realize from it.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-11-06 16:45:04 • 3 minute read

Why “Done” is better than “Perfect”

Of the many universal laws and principles that affect us all in life, the one that intrigues me the most this time of year is The Law of Diminishing Intent. This natural law suggests that if I get exposed to an idea I feel would positively impact my life, I must take action immediately otherwise the likelihood that I will ever implement fades quickly.

After All is Said and Done, More is Often Said than Done.

In life, the pendulum often swings between ambition and contentment. Ultimately we want to savor what we have while continually striving to achieve our full potential. Many of us set goals in late December or early January as we strive to achieve new levels of personal and professional success in the coming year. And while our ambition and self-motivation may be strong, the velocity of life can be so intense that distractions and noise compete for our attention and conspire against our initiative. This pushes our goals off to the side and eventually right out our minds.

The bottom line is this, change is hard.

Aristotle provided a maxim that is very helpful: “Quality is a habit not an act. We are what we repeatedly do.” We are products of our habits and rituals. But creating a new habit can be very difficult because traction and meaningful results take time to manifest. Our daily routines get hardwired into our mindset and whenever we deviate we often subconsciously revert back to our original ways of doing things.

Not to oversimplify things, but an important step is to develop an approach where you take action and build the bridge as you cross it. If you know you have to start doing something that’s in your bests interests or, for that matter, stop doing something that is not in your best interests – creating a new habit or breaking a bad one – take action and let the momentum of your new habit compound over time.

If, for example, you know that you should be doing an ongoing call rotation or send out birthday cards to your best clients, but you never get around to it, start with a small number of say 10 or 20 clients. Calling 100 clients every 60 days can seem ominous, but calling 20 seems pretty easy. Once you get into a rhythm of consistency you can simply increase the numbers as you go. Follow the process and as the results become obvious, you will be motivated to not only expand the process but to also continue with it.

Minor Adjustments Can Lead to Major Improvements

Which brings me to an important observation. The Law of Cause and Effect suggests that our ongoing activities determine our productivity. In other words, we have to look at the actions we need to take on a regular basis that contribute to our overall effectiveness. Now apply that along with The Pareto Principle. If 80% of our productivity stems from 20% of our activities – meaning we make 80% of our income in about an hour a day – we have to identify, master and continuously deploy the activities that matter the most. These habits and rituals make up our code-of-conduct that earn the trust of our clients, lead to predictable results, and impact our branding in terms of how we are perceived by everyone we interact with. Talk really is cheap. Actions really do speak louder than words. The key is in constantly refining those actions so that we aren’t mistaking movement for achievement.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

But there is another reason why we don’t take action and develop a new habit before our intent diminishes: fear. As easy as it is to change, it’s always easier not to if there is uncertainty or risk. I talk to advisors about this all the time and I often share my personal view on how I try to overcome the core issues that lead to procrastination. I continually remind myself that life is short and I don’t want to be defined by my fears of failure. I’m also driven by the fact that my sense of purpose and fulfillment in life stems for the fact that the things that cause me anxiety or stress are never as big as they appear. Furthermore, ultimately I am one of seven billion people on earth. I’m just a small speck in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong, I have a strong self-esteem but it does help to keep things in proportion. I read recently that a NASA telescope that can see further and deeper into space has determined that there are at least 17 billion planets about the size of planet earth in the universe. That gives me perspective not to major in minor things and motivates me to take action and live a little. Sure I want to be rational and prepared using sound judgment but I refuse to let the fear of failure shackle me. Regret is always a possibility but I want to approach life looking forward at “what could be” rather than looking back at “what could have been”. Regret is always a possibility but I want to approach life looking forward at “what could be” rather than looking back at “what could have been”.

If you are a fan of reading biographies of high achievers you know that the people who are the most gratified as they reflect back on life are those who took action, overcame adversity and lived life to the fullest. I’ll never trivialize the importance of knowledge but it’s the reputation of action that creates the most interesting legacies. What we know will never matter more than our results. Knowledge isn’t power. Knowledge invested in action is power. And along the way you become an inspiration for others that leaves an indelible mark on the world. So let’s all be brave, be relentless, and be patient for results to appear as we take action through the year. As legendary philosopher Jim Rohn often said, “Do it for what it makes of you, not just for what it gets you. It’s not what you get in life that makes you valuable, it’s who you become that really matters the most.”

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-10-09 16:39:51 • 3 minute read

Is it your fault as an advisor that the markets are volatile and the future is uncertain? Not any more than it’s your fault when autumn becomes winter. Your responsibility, however, is that your clients are prepared for winter, and that it’s not a shock to them when it arrives. However, if your clients tend to refer you only when things are rosy, you have a serious vulnerability in the way that you have positioned yourself. Things do not have to be this way!

If advisors would take a page or two from a profession that has already gone through this brand of disharmony, the dentists in the preceding section being a great example, they would finally have a business where clients can and will refer them regardless of how the markets are doing. This is not a pipe dream. There are advisors who have already integrated these things into their businesses. These advisors have clients who have been taught the doctrine and who are not faked out by volatility. As a result, because their clients’ expectations have been exceeded in the areas that the advisor can control, these advisors are immensely referable 365 days out of the year.

When ‘instant rapport’ takes place at your office and the experience is coupled with a client process where the complexities of financial planning have been simplified and future-paced, clients will embrace your efforts. They will also realize that it would be a disservice not to recommend this five-star service to others they know who are unhappy with their professional advisors.

Through a crystal-clear client process, clients are taught that financial planning is not an event, but a process that involves ongoing interaction with their professional advisor, repeatedly and consistently as their lives and needs unfold.

Like the “dental health” mantra, clients can learn a financial mantra and will deliver it to others just as naturally and eloquently. With this kind of structure, to blame a professional advisor for an occasional or sustained hit to a balanced portfolio would be akin to blaming a dentist for your impacted wisdom tooth. The end result is that the instant rapport and the Client Process are what the clients learn to value in their dealings with the advisor, instead of fixating on the rate of return on their investments.

To those advisors who doubt the veracity of this claim, the number-one piece of feedback I hear from the clients of professional advisors who have embraced this approach of perfecting what they can control and improve on is: “Finally! This is what we’ve been waiting for!” Typically, when affluent prospective clients hear about a superior brand of advisor, they will distance themselves from the transaction-oriented advisor as quickly as possible and gravitate to the full-service advisor.

The bottom line is that everything – every action and reaction – executed by you and your team makes you either more or less referable. Scrutinize everything and create a referable experience so that you can nail down the small changes that makes for major improvement; the processes that sharpen the winning edge.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-10-02 16:36:47 • 5 minute read

Why do people refer a professional to their friends, family, or people in their inner circle? Usually when I am discussing this topic with Financial Advisors, invariably the answer the Advisors come up with is that “they want to help that person.”

I don’t deny that this is probably true, but our belief is that the motivation is more ‘selfish’ on the part of the person that is referring. Yes, they want to help their friend or family member etc., but ultimately they want to hear back from that person, and they want to hear validation about the recommendation in question. That is true whether or not it is a Financial Advisor they referred, or a good book, or even a terrific bottle of wine.

Just as giving to charity makes us feel good inside, having someone come back to us and say: “Thanks so much for introducing me to John, he is a true professional” or “That book you recommended was amazing, thanks,” go a long way to validating the choices we have made in our own lives. We want to share the special things we have discovered. Put simply, when we get the positive feedback at the end, it feels great. We are also doing a good deed in the process, so let’s call it ‘enlightened self-interest.’

I mention all this because when someone has just signed on with a new Advisor, the new client’s propensity to refer that same Advisor to someone else is at its highest right at the very beginning. That said, this last fact is entirely dependent on the Advisor’s process for how that client was brought on at the beginning.

Did the Advisor use an agenda when we had our first meeting? Or did he take notes on a legal pad? Was there a pre-appointment process that made me feel I was heading into something special before I even met with the Advisor? Or did he see me within two days of the initial contact, projecting absolutely no scarcity in the process? When the papers were signed, what happened then? Did the Advisor just move on the next conquest, or was there a New Client Welcome Process that continued to validate my decision to work with that advisor?

All these things in concert with one another create an experience that makes people want to share the experience with someone else, and right off the bat too. If the Advisor is consistent with all of those things, and the person that I refer has the exact same experience that I did, I know that person will come back to me, and they will say:

“Wow, it was just like you said. I wish I had done that five years ago.”

Of course that makes me feel special, and the feeling I get is that I want to do it all over again with another friend so I can get that same emotional payoff. Better yet, now I am even more assured of the Advisor’s consistency because of the feedback I received. As a result, I am even more confident about referring someone else!

Examine your process for taking on a new client. Is it memorable? Would you refer someone into your process? Would you be confident that you would get glowing feedback from the person you sent there? These questions and answers have huge implications as to the number of referrals you receive.

If you don’t have a pre-appointment process, start one. Make it good and stick to it; you know; just how the dentist does it. Send out a letter, an Introductory Kit perhaps, and then make a courtesy call the day before the appointment as a reminder.

If you are not using agendas, start! Decide on a nice Welcome Gift that is sent out when all the paperwork is signed, and then be consistent with it. Also, when selecting an appropriate welcome gift, don’t pick something that looks like you walked approximately 20 feet down to the company gift shop. Make it seem as if there was some effort, and that will reflect that you genuinely value your new relationship with that person.

From what I have seen in my experience, this type of attention is so rare in today’s business world, that if you decide to get serious about some of the things I am discussing (hopefully all of them), people will be referring you all over the place. When you exceed someone’s expectations, not only will they contrast it with their prior experiences, they will tell others. It is basic human nature, and we all do it. Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-09-25 07:16:25 • 2 minute read

As the commoditization of your industry continues prompting clients to focus on what you cost rather than what you're worth, there are small steps you can take to differentiate yourself and elevate how you are perceived and described. 

One example - and in the spirit of "facts tells, stories sell" - you can transform the abstract, transactional and commoditized nature of your technical wealth management and planning abilities to be more fluid, dynamic, conceptual and proprietary by giving your overall process an identity that symbolizes how you navigate clients through their journey addressing their many critical life events so that they can look to the future with anticipation rather than apprehension. 

This symbol can essentially become your Nike Swoosh that triggers a moment of recognition and appreciation for your people, practice and process rather than focus on products, pricing and performance. Remember, your process isn't promissory around short term performance, it's a promise of a client experience - in other words what it means to be your client for a lifetime and then into multi-generations. 

A great place to start is with the greeting cards you use and the wall decor in your office. One of my favorite and artistic examples is an Inukshuk - which is used by the Inuit of Northern Canada as a navigational aid for hunters and translates to mean "in the image of man". Our friends at Lavish have a beautiful card you can use to pay tribute for birthday, referral recognition and for new client onboarding. A print on your wall is something you could point to during a strategy and tactical client review meeting to center them back to the value of your process. 

Other examples of imagery our clients imprint are a Swan (symbolizing how clients sleep well at night), a sailboat (symbolizing how it's not the wind but rather the set of the sail that determines your destination) and a bridge (symbolizing how you are the bridge to your client's goals). 

Speaking of bridges, one advisor who imprints bridges consistently told me not long ago that one of his clients recently mentioned that every time he sees a bridge he thinks about the advisor and another who called to introduce a friend and said that he explained to his friend that his advisor has a "process that puts all the pieces of the financial puzzle together and builds the bridge as we cross it to our financial goals". 

If you verbalize your value using a symbol, you make it easier for your clients to internalize your value and then socialize it to others. 

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Take Action:

___________________________________________________

For more inspiration on how to create an identify for your panoramic and all encompassing process and anchor your clients to a symbolic icon, visit LavishCards.com.  

Lavish's beautiful, gallery-style cards are the perfect way to show your clients that you value their business and, more importantly, you value the relationship! And there's still time to order your Thanksgiving Day cards! But don't delay, order today!

Ordering is simple and the product is exceptional. Visit LavishCards.com or call 1.888.599.7599

Blog Posting Image
2018-08-28 19:08:14 • 5 minute read

What would happen if you took a month off - starting tomorrow? Would your business spiral into chaos or would it run like a Swiss watch? What would happen if one of your key team members told you that he or she is resigning starting immediately? Would your business be severely disrupted or would you be able to hire a replacement and fast-track him or her to competence?

As strange as it may sound, true business success can only be achieved when you have made yourself obsolete. When the day comes that you don’t need to be present and your business can still be productive, you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Furthermore, when your business practices are documented, you not only liberate your staff to be more efficient but you ensure that you are never at the mercy of maverick talent. 

Another one of the biggest benefits of deploying and maintaining an organized and structured business is predictability. The outcomes and results you are striving for become predictable in terms of productivity and the business serves your life instead of the other way around. It also has tremendous impact on your client relationships too. You set expectations for your clients and deliver a consistent client experience that amplifies the trust and confidence they have in you. 

When we consult with a financial advisor on a one to one basis, at this point of the strategic analysis we reveal that overall their life is good. They earn a good living and have earned the right to be content. However, deep inside, ambition nags at them. They know they could break through the plateau. But they just can’t seem to take their business higher. And, of course, they have a lifestyle to support and cannot allow their business to go any lower. 

Ultimately, they don't want to work harder. Of course, they could work more hours, but the collateral damage to their personal lives would be unacceptable and would take them down the path of diminishing returns. Furthermore, fear of rocking the boat inhibits them. If it isn’t really broken, why try to fix it? In other words, if they attempt to tinker with or re-engineer their current approach, they risk adjustments which might not lead to improvements or could possibly even set things back. 

As one advisor put it, “I can’t afford to be right, eventually. My monthly expenses on both business and personal levels require results right now.” This mindset results in people sticking with the status quo and maintaining a business which simply hovers. 

So, you can’t work any harder. And you’re not prepared to resign yourself to “this is as good as it gets.” What is the answer? 

More often than not, one, two or all of the following three factors must be addressed in order to take your business to the next level, to evolve from survive to thrive. 

Mistaking Motion for Action 

When we ask a financial advisor, “How are things?” nine times out of ten, the answer will be, “I’m extremely busy.” Our response is always, “Busy doing what?” The Law of Cause and Effect states that your activities will determine your productivity. If you want your productivity to increase, the first place you should look at is the activities you engage in which give you the best return on your investment of time and energy. Think about it. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your productivity stems from about 20% of your activities. In other words, you make about 80% of your income every day in about an hour. So, what goes into that hour? Talking to and meeting with your favorite clients and the most predisposed prospective clients available to you. All other activities must support these two essential activities.  

Unless you are a one-person operation, one of the most obvious ways to increase your capacity to do more of what you really get paid to do is to delegate as many supporting activities as possible. 

For many entrepreneurs, managing people and all the accompanying hassles can be a big issue. Many perceive managing people as actually exacerbating the problem because it can be a distraction. Hiring new people adds yet another expense and could potentially upset the chemistry of the staff currently in place. 

These concerns can be addressed if you step back and scrutinize your business. Determine whether it is truly built on predictable, sustainable and duplicable systems driven by accountability and consistency. Does everyone on your team know their job description? Do they follow predetermined systems and procedures, or are they left to their own devices? 

We have seen many, many entrepreneurs with successful businesses supported by talented people but who unknowingly created self-imposed limitations because, frankly, everyone in the organization flew by the seat of their pants. Time after time, the creation of an Organizational and Structural Chart followed by the refinement of systems outlined within a Procedures Manual has proven to be essential. 

Systems Create Success 

The Organizational Chart is simply a snapshot of everyone on your team with a brief description of what they do. One sheet of paper is required and, when completed, becomes the cover sheet of the Procedures Manual. Now if you have never done this before you may be wondering, “Is this worth the effort?” Time and time again, when conducting a Business Evaluation Process (a strategic Gap Analysis) for one of our coaching and consulting clients, we have determined that in order to develop a systematized business this is an essential step back in order to take several forward.

The Random House Dictionary defines systems as "a group or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unified whole." Does this sound like your business? Dry as it may be, it fits not only the dictionary definition, but is critical for your success.

Take a good hard look at your operation. Would it continue to function like a Swiss watch if you weren't there all the time? Could you convince us, today, that your enterprise is a true business and not just simply a company that sells things? Have you created something with great value, predictable outcomes and ironclad systems? Could you provide documentation detailing exactly how to operate and run your business right down to the smallest detail?

If you have created a business with true systems, you probably already know the freedom and control it has brought to your business and personal life and your buiness is truly Franchise-Ready. The haphazard approach simply cannot compare.

So where do you start? If you are going to build a business based on systems, the first step is to clearly define each individual’s responsibilities within your organization. You and your team have to sit down and determine who does what and when. On a daily basis, you and your team engage in proactive and reactive activities. Based on the Law of Cause and Effect, all of these activities affect your productivity. You and your team need absolute clarity of who is accountable for each of these activities. 

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Blog Posting Image
2018-08-14 14:58:35 • 3 minute read

You are probably conscious of gaps that need to be dealt with by now, have crafted your trailer, your personal value proposition and have a basic handle on your branding. Let’s climb to the 40,000-foot level and take a strategic look. And before you are tempted to put it off, right now is the ideal time to start bringing your vision for the future out of your head and galvanizing it on paper.

If you patiently and deliberately create a plan for the coming year over the next few months, rather than on a Sunday evening over the holidays in December, you’ll create a plan that better serves you as a guidance system, is more actionable and predictable, and consists of goals that are balanced, clear and attainable.

If anyone knows the power of advice and the importance of planning, it’s a knowledge-for-profit professional. Think about it, what would you tell someone who told you they don’t see the value of professional advice and planning? If they said to you, “I’m doing it myself because a professional advisor is too expensive and the results can be underwhelming or uncertain.” You’d probably tell them - or at least think to yourself - “That is … crazy.” It would be like a person with a tooth-ache deciding to work on their own teeth.

Your plan has to be an ongoing, living process. It’s not ‘once a year and done’. It won’t surprise you that one of my pet peeves in business is centered on the lack of implementation of a strategy. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is the implementation of an idea that sets it apart from everything else and brings it to life. A plan lets you implement efficiently.

With that said, I admit that when I hear the words “business plan,” I often feel a wave of discomfort sweep over me which I have to shake off, perhaps after muttering some foul language under my breath for good measure.

Why the reaction? Consider what happens with about 90 percent of the annual business plans that professional advisors prepare. This is one probable scenario: It is late December and you start to wade through the 20 to 30 pages of the business plan that your company provides for you, and perhaps even requires you to complete. You pick at it over a few weeks, and then, with the deadline looming, you set aside a couple of hours and plow through the document as quickly as you can. A sense of relief rushes over you as click the “save” button and send it off to head office. You may even print a copy which you sit marveling at for a few minutes before you file it away in a drawer, never to be seen again.

Well, at least until year-end when you may use it to help you figure out what to write in the next business plan.

Regardless of my reaction and the “usual scenario” as detailed above, strategic business plans can have real value if they are referred to regularly and adjusted as needed. Are you meeting your targets? What can be done to bring you back on track? What needs to be adjusted in your business activities to ensure the desired outcomes? What changes have to be implemented with your clients?

Reading the plan again can create awareness of your shortfalls, and can ignite a flood of new ideas that can be used to get you back on track for the year. Each new idea requires some planning for implementation, and detailing the necessary steps to be taken to actually bring the idea into fruition within your business, but with your overall plan in place, these will be minor adjustments.

Don’t wait until the end of the year. Any time is a perfect time to pull out your strategic plan again and look at it as a jump start - a new beginning, if you will. When I do this, it always seems to me like a second New Years, and I have the opportunity to evaluate what I want to accomplish over the remaining months of the year.

Take a few hours to review what you wrote last year and make some decisions on what adjustments you can and should make right now. I guarantee that reading it again - examining what you wanted to implement, and considering what you actually did - will make a huge difference in the remaining months of this year and, ultimately, for years to come.

Keep your old plans. Every time the document changes, archive what was previously written. Over the course of a year you may end up with three, four, or even five versions of your business plan as it adapts. They become a progression and an evolution. Your course of action can be tracked and accounted for, and your strategic business plan can become an established process for planning and implementation going forward.

Whether you use a business plan template through a CRM, or create your own document yearly on your computer, the most important point is that you take the time to plan, create, update and utilize one.

Perhaps the next time I hear someone talk about a business plan, the conversation will be around how it has become a constant and invaluable reference point for their business, as opposed to something that is filed away and forgotten.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Take Action:

Achieve Scalable Growth through the Blue Square Method

The Blue Square Method is all about helping someone methodically achieve self-actualization. To become the best version of themself - personally and professionally. Framed in ambition, purpose, meaning, fulfillment and gratitude. Taking nothing for granted, but being happy with what we have as we aspire to what we want.  https://www.paretosystems.com/blue-square.html

Blog Posting Image
2018-07-31 20:49:30 • 3 minute read

I’ve seen it time and time again. Being more productive doesn’t mean that you have to work harder or put in longer hours. You just have to be strict and economical with your time.

You do it every day, without thinking about it. When you buy a power screwdriver to replace your rusty old manual one, you are buying time. You are focused on accomplishing the same job but in less time and with less energy expended.

As I identified earlier, one way to manufacture capacity, free up time and reduce hassle factors is to right-size your client base. Focusing on how small you can stay has worked wonders for several advisors who hit a plateau, but that isn’t to say it is necessary for every advisor. Some advisors transfer B and C clients to a Call Center. Others hire a protégé to manage B clients to free themselves up to provide enhanced service to A clients.

Another approach is to come back to the Pareto Principal. If 80 percent of your business is stemming from 20 percent of your clients then you must invest 80 percent of your time with those clients on a one-to-one basis. And if 20 percent of your business is coming from 80 percent of your clients perhaps a one-to-many approach for your B clients using a managed money platform is the answer.

You’ve probably considered a managed money platform for a block of your B clients but never executed on the concept. I can tell you this - and this stems from countless observations - done properly, following a predictable and sustainable process that is positioned professionally and as a benefit to your clients, this can manufacture time and capacity to ensure that the business serves your life.

The key in that statement is that you position the concept as a benefit to your B clients. I say that because many advisors feel that the optics (from the clients’ perspective) of transitioning all or even just a block of B clients to a managed money program will be negative. Surely clients will feel they are being trivialized and will eventually defect to another advisor? I’m here to tell you that it all comes down to how you position it. Not to oversimplify it, but you can follow this simple checklist as a starting point: 

  • Research - It should go without saying, but scrutinize the platforms available to you and be in no hurry to select one that is the best fit.
  • Apply a two-meeting approach - The first meeting is for introducing the concept and the second is for the actual transition itself.
  • The importance of process - Explain the difference between a financial plan and on-going financial planning. 

This is the recipe for the secret sauce, for lack of a better analogy. With your B clients, you want to explain how this is a proactive and ongoing process that helps you both take a long view to financial planning while at the same time still being nimble enough to react to fluctuations and external events along the way.

Many clients think of financial planning as a one-off event where the advisor diagnoses the client’s issues, identifies their goals and objectives and then creates a 120-page plan that the client probably won’t read or understand but might feel better simply holding.

True financial planning is a fluid and dynamic process that can be affected greatly by Critical Life Events; any one of which can instantly render that 120-page plan obsolete. When you are transitioning your relationship to a managed money approach, you can re-frame the client’s understanding of your role in their life. It is one thing to explain the difference between transactional commissions and transparent asset management fees, but a Fee-Worthy Advisor goes deeper than that.

The Fee-Worthy Advisor uses words like “process”, “consistency” and “predictability” - not in terms of returns on a statement but in terms of advisor-client engagement. They use metaphors like the weather, a GPS and the seasons to help the client conceptualize how the advisor navigates through storms and seasonal swings. The markets are like the weather - you can anticipate some storms and others you cannot. The markets are like the seasons. You can count on the seasons of life but the severity of each season can fluctuate from year to year.

This can help your clients truly understand your role and your value and see past turbulent periods.

Many advisors say that having a Fee-Worthy mindset puts you on the same side of the table as your client. I say that it puts you both on the same wavelength, and that understanding competitor-proofs your clients, minimizes their anxieties about external factors and events and improves your refer-ability. It also has proven to dramatically reduce the daily frequency of inbound client calls because of their renewed confidence in you and your process, and that takes the transitional process from time well spent to the best investment you’ll ever make.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Take Action:

Achieve Scalable Growth through the Blue Square Method

The Blue Square Method is all about helping someone methodically achieve self-actualization. To become the best version of themself - personally and professionally. Framed in ambition, purpose, meaning, fulfillment and gratitude. Taking nothing for granted, but being happy with what we have as we aspire to what we want.  

https://www.paretosystems.com/blue-square.html

Blog Posting Image
2018-06-19 19:49:48 • 3 minute read

Planning, philosophy and process are all interdependent. Educating a prospective client as to why this is – or re-framing your value with an existing client through the three Ps – helps them buy into your positioning as a professional consultant. Planning is Panoramic

We’ve touched on Philosophy and Process, but let me expand on Planning.

Planning is a four-fold, panoramic process. In addition to not being a square-peg/round-hole template as you reassured your prospective client in your trailer, there are four central pillars you need clarity on, and that you must communicate to the client.

A planning process for a client encompasses Wealth Management, Risk Management, Tax Management and Debt Management. It bridges your philosophy to your strategy.

A Wealth management process focuses on diversification. It follows the path of selling on rallies and buying on retreats and binds clients to your process rather than the emotional upheavals of the market.

Risk management is just that. As the industry rises and falls, you, as an income producer, make or protect money for your clients no matter the smoothness of the road or the sudden appearance of potholes. If you had a machine that printed money, you’d insure it, knowing that to have insurance and not need it is preferable to needing it and not having it. The market is the machine – your services are the insurance.

Tax management is always a concern for any client. It’s incumbent on the taxpayer to be savvy, not the tax man. That’s why tax management is such a vital function. The tax man will do it for you – but he’ll also take every penny he can get. What’s the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance? About seven years, according to the old joke. Tax management makes sure that remains a joke instead of a sentence.

Debt management is being positioned for anything, at any time. Critical life events will occur, for everyone, and good decisions always stem from strong positions.

Again, the important thing here is not that you, the professional advisor, know all four quadrants of your planning process, how your philosophy infuses them all and how your process delivers them – that’s assumed – it’s that you educate your client or potential client so they know, as well.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

Take Action:

Schedule a Complimentary Pareto Systems Introduction Call

Pareto Systems offers a wide variety of time-tested, proven Consulting Programs designed to help financial and business professionals regain control of their practice and restore liberation and order to their lives.

To learn more, call 1.866.593.8020 or click below to schedule a Pareto Systems Introduction Call

www.paretosystems.com/schedule-a-call

Blog Posting Image
2018-05-22 14:18:13 • 3 minute read

I'm often asked for ideas from people who are looking for unique items to give to clients as gifts whether it's for referral recognition, on-boarding, birthdays, milestones and the like. And while I've passed along many suggestions over the years, this has to be one of my favorites - and not just because it supports my wife's business!

Transparency Alert!

OK so clearly I'm biased but this really is a good idea. My wife Shawni sources vintage keys from all over the world and turns them into unique key chains and jewelry. The keys themselves are intriguing and interesting and harken back to a simpler time. They not only have good energy but they ultimately symbolize your value too - after all, you are the key to unlock your clients goals.

Furthermore, think about this - what are the 2 things pretty much everyone takes with them everywhere they go? Their phone and their keys. A vintage key chain not only has a positive impact - it also has enduring shelf life meaning clients will keep it for a long time.

Multi-sensory Marketing

An interesting twist to the vintage key gifts is that she also can add a small aroma therapy diffuser to the key chain or jewelry that produces a subtle scent. The sense of smell triggers vivid memories and with the right essential oil it can create a sense of calm and rejuvenation. I'm a big fan of the diffusers too because they promote deep, intentional breathing. As you may know, typical breathing can be shallow at times and can contribute to fatigue.

Bang for the Buck

So if you get a chance, take a look at www.keyeragifts.com and send her an email at shawni@keyeragifts.com to arrange a time to discuss if there is merit to adding this into your client gift-giving mix.

But Wait, Don't Order Yet...

With every order, KeyEra Gifts will also include a couple of beautiful vintage key inspired thank you cards that you can send to a client to pay tribute to moments of truth like referrals and to unlock the full potential of your relationships. (See what I did there?)

Thank You!

Duncan MacPherson

P.S. Mention my name when you speak with her - it can't hurt..

Take client gifting, and your business, to the next level with www.KeyEraGifts.com.

Pareto Systems
Thank you for submitting the online form. A Pareto Systems representative will contact you within 24 hours or the next business day.