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2024-04-18 20:26:24 • 10 minute read

Gain Insights from the 2024 Financial Industry Practice Management Trends Report

When we launched the Practice Management Index in 2022, we had no idea how quickly this tool would be adopted by thousands of Financial Advisors to quickly identify exactly what they need to do to make meaningful refinements in their business. As we step into 2024, financial advisors are witnessing a transformative shift, with the spotlight on embracing AI to refine operational efficiencies and enhance client engagement strategies; it is quite a time to be alive! This year, success in the financial industry isn't just about the accumulation of years of experience or the size of one's team. It's increasingly about how effectively financial advisors run their business like a business.

Our Practice Management Trends Report for 2024 aims to dissect these evolving dynamics, spotlighting the pivotal "opportunity gaps" that we have identified from all the Financial Advisors that have completed the Practice Management Index Assessment in 2023. An opportunity gap is defined as the divergence between a practice's current state and its optimal potential.

What does it truly mean to operate at full potential? Are there untapped areas within your practice that, if addressed, could drive significant growth and improvement? This year, we delve into how financial advisors are reimagining their approach to practice management, from client interaction to internal processes, in a bid to achieve unparalleled efficiency and client satisfaction. Our report seeks to answer these questions, guiding advisors on the path to realizing their practice's full potential.

Key Contents of this Report

  1. Introduction
  2. The Practice Management Index
  3. Respondents Profile
  4. Six Foundations of a Successful Financial Advisor Practice
  5. Looking Deeper
  6. Financial Industry 2023 PMI Scores
  7. Where Do Financial Advisors Stand?
  8. Opportunity Gaps: A Tale of Two Teams
  9. Strategic Planning
  10. Systems and Process
  11. Branding and Communication
  12. Client Events
  13. Strategic Partners
  14. Client Perceptions
  15. Ideal Clients and Introductions
  16. Know Exactly What You Need to Do

The Practice Management Index (PMIndex)

The information, evaluation and insights in this report are derived from the Practice Management Index (PMIndex), which is a detailed assessment of a financial advisor's practice management capabilities. The PMIndex provides a quantitative measure for financial advisors and teams to know "where they rank" compared to their peers, with an overall PMIndex score on six integral pillars of their business and 18 focus areas in practice management. 

The data is aggregated and derived from the 174+ point PMIndex assessment, and the intake form comprising demographic and socioeconomic information - including the number of financial professionals on a team, staff, clients, Assets Under Management, annual revenue, and percentage of recurring revenue. This data is used to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations and trends that provide useful business insights across the industry. You will find such insights in this report. In addition, this report will provide a meaningful comparison for the Financial Professionals that have completed the PMIndex, so that they can compare themselves to their peers within the industry.

Our intent is to provide Financial Professionals with a benchmark of success, so that each year they can measurably and progressively run a more productive and predictable business, become a better team, and a better version of their former selves.

You can take your PMIndex for 2024 at this link:

Respondents Profile

This report uses data gathered from respondents who are financial professionals within North America. Commonalities shared by respondents are that they:

  • Dedicate time to improving their business through practice management, relationship
    management, marketing and business development.
  • Often are teams that may be stuck in the status quo, and want to gain clarity on the gaps
    that exist within their business.
  • Are individuals and businesses motivated to see new levels of growth, efficiencies, productivity and predictability in their business.

No personally identifiable information is used in this report.

Six Foundations of a Successful Financial Advisor Practice

The path towards a successful and sustainable practice is underpinned by the mastery of six foundational pillars; the bedrock for constructing a robust and flourishing business. As the year unfolds, it presents a prime opportunity for reflection, goal setting and implementation. Now is the time to harness your ambitions and resolutions, channeling them towards reimagining, refining, and rejuvenating your business.

Foundation #1) Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is much more than just making a one-time plan. It's a continuous, flexible process that shifts and grows with your business and the team you work with. It's about diving deep to find both opportunities for growth and potential risks, really understanding what the practice does well and where it can improve. You need to bridge the gap between what you plan to do and what actually gets done by setting clear, achievable goals, keeping an eye on key performance metrics, and planning for what's coming next. Essentially, strategic planning is all about being proactive, well-informed, and quick to adapt - ready to pivot on a dime - ensuring your practice isn't just "making it through" but thriving.

Foundation #2. Productivity and Efficiency
What is the secret to skyrocketing productivity? It lies not in working more hours, but in working smarter. Those that clearly assign roles & responsibilities and cleverly hand off routine tasks to others, in and outside the team, free up more time for higher-priority activities and client interactions. Advisors then have the time to really focus on what they do best" connecting with clients and strategic partners, the real MVPs in the growth and happiness of the practice.

It's like finding the perfect puzzle pieces. Advisors start zeroing in on clients whose dreams and goals align perfectly with what the practice offers, crafting relationships that are rewarding for both sides. It's about doing more of what works and less of what doesn't, making sure every move, every effort, adds a little more to the pot of profitability. By putting their energy into the most impactful activities, the practice isn't just running more smoothly; it's racing towards success with the wind at its back.

Foundation # 3) Client Service
Don't just service your clients; aim to give them an experience they'll want to rave about. Switch from being reactive to providing proactive service that makes every interaction, meeting, or call count. This is about making your interactions so valuable that your clients feel more connected to you than ever. Develop your service model to be elevated for your best clients, distinct from the competition, and a magnet for new clients.

Foundation # 4) Client Success
What could be simpler? Focus on the success of the client, rather than your success. Focus on developing a culture that is client-centered, with every thought, process, and interaction being about your clients and the experience you provide: Everything from your new client fit process, to implementing a consistent onboarding strategy, to welcoming clients into the practice. Central to this approach is identifying and working closely with ideal clients whose needs and expectations align perfectly with your expertise. Your business will be a reflection of what you put into it; your success will be a byproduct of your client's success.

Foundation # 5) Marketing and Branding
What perception do your clients have of your business? Create a brand identity that resonates with clients and sets expectations they can get excited about. Your personal and business branding and marketing strategy needs to ensure prospective and existing clients understand and appreciate everything can do for them over the lifetime of your relationship. It's not just about communicating your value in various mediums, such as your website or on social media, it's also about demonstrating your value with every interaction with clients through the people on your team, your practice and your process.

Foundation #6. Team Dynamics
Team dynamics are the heartbeat of a financial practice, with the environment and culture taking their cues from the top. Your team isn't just part of the machinery; they're the driving force. This is an environment where every team member feels charged up and in sync with the practice's objectives, where everyone belongs, where growth is on the daily agenda, where consistent communication actually happens, and innovative ideas are freely discussed. Does this sound like a team that you would like to be a part of?

Related: Important Question to Ask Yourself

Looking Deeper - Where Do Financial Advisors Excel and Where Do They Fall Short?

The following table provides aggregate scoring of Financial Advisors in 2023, within the overall ranking of the six foundations of practice management, broken down by 18 focus areas. Each is scored out of 100. The higher the score, the better the ranking:


Financial Industry 2023 PMIndex Scores

The following PMIndex scores represent the overall average, high and low scores given to Financial Advisors in 2023. The maximum and best score being 10. The PMIndex score is calculated as an aggregate of all answers in the PMIndex assessment, within the context of six foundations of practice management.

Where Do Financial Advisors Stand?

Significantly Above Average (8.5 - 10)
PMIndex Scores that fall within this range indicate the respondents scored well above their peers, and have the fewest opportunity gaps to refine in their business. They likely make prudent decisions and have a thriving business, including a productive team, excellent communication with their clients and strategic partners, and execute on well-defined systems and processes to create a very consistent client experience.

Above Average (6.2 - 8.4)
PMIndex Scores that fall within this range indicate that they scored above their peers, and have a smaller number of opportunity gaps to improve their business. They likely have a well- established business including an efficient team, consistent systems and processes to create an elevated client experience, and are looking for smaller refinements in most aspects of their business.

Within Average Range (4.6 - 6.1)
PMIndex Scores that fall within this range indicate that the professional scored within the average range of their peers, and have a reasonable number of opportunity gaps they can address to improve their business. They likely have an established business that includes some defined processes, executes fairly consistently on the client experience, but they recognize the clear path to growth and efficiently is through more defined systems and better communication with clients and strategic partners.

Below Average (3.9 - 4.5)
PMIndex Scores that fall within this range indicate that the respondents scored below their peers, and have a high number of opportunity gaps to target to improve their business. Further, they likely have an operational business, require more consistency and defined processes, are looking to significantly improve the client experience, better manage their clients and focus their time and energy more productively.

Significantly Below Average (0 - 3.8)
PMIndex Scores that fall within this range indicate that respondents scored well below their peers, and have a significantly higher number of opportunity gaps to improve in their business. They likely are in a business foundation-building phase to increase process consistency and efficiency, dramatically elevate the client experience and better demonstrate and communicate their value to clients.

Opportunity Gaps - A Tale of Two Teams

Top Financial Advisor Teams Managing $250 million or more VS Financial Advisor Teams Managing Less than $40 million. We selected the most interesting data points"

The pursuit of excellence is not just a goal but a relentless journey. This year's PMIndex report unfolds an intriguing narrative, juxtaposing high-revenue-producing teams managing assets over $250 million against their counterparts overseeing less than $40 million.

This comparison, far from being a mere statistical exercise, illuminates the nuanced strategies and practices that distinguish the leaders from the learners. For the high achievers, it's about fine-tuning the engine of their operations to achieve that additional 1% improvement across the board, turning "good" into "great". 

The following pages provide a snapshot of the most significant trends and opportunity gaps for financial professionals and teams identified through the PMIndex in 2023"

Strategic Planning

High performing financial advisor teams distinguish themselves significantly through their focus on strategic planning. This disciplined approach to goal setting is a key driver of their success, enabling a focused and aligned effort towards achieving measurable outcomes.

Additionally, these top-performing teams leverage Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as essential tools for measuring success; providing actionable insights that help these teams evaluate their progress and make informed decisions.

The utilization of structured agendas in strategic planning meetings and the assignment of responsibilities for action items are two practices that starkly differentiate high performing teams from lower-performing teams. This structured approach ensures that discussions are focused, time-efficient, and aligned with the team's strategic goals, facilitating a more productive planning process.
Furthermore, the assignment of responsibility for action items stemming from these strategic planning meetings is another area where high performing teams excel. Here, 64% of high performing teams make it a point to assign specific responsibilities to team members, ensuring accountability and follow-through, whereas only 32% of lower-performing teams practice this.

Systems and Process

The adoption of Customer Relationship Management  (CRM)  software  marks a significant distinction between high performing and lower-performing teams in client management and operational efficiency. Specifically, 74% of higher performing teams utilize CRM software to manage their clients and store important information, a practice that contrasts with only 41% of lower performing teams. This technological adoption underscores the strategic advantage gained through efficient data management and the ability to track client interactions, preferences, and to create a better client experience.

Classifying clients, integrating these classifications into CRM systems, and utilizing these classifications to prioritize and manage
client interactions are best practices that differentiate higher performing teams from lower performing ones. 

Additionally the strategic use of client classification to schedule appointments, manage workflow, and prioritize ideal clients is adopted by 63% of higher performing teams, compared to 45% of lower performing teams. This practice not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures that resources are allocated effectively, with a focus on maximizing value for both the firm and its clients.


The documentation of systems and processes in a playbook, such as a Procedures Manual or Standard Operating Procedures Manual, is a critical practice that sets higher performing teams apart from their lower performing counterparts. This documentation ensures that all team members have clear guidelines and standardized procedures to follow, contributing to efficiency, consistency in service delivery, and the ability to predictably onboard new team members. It reflects a commitment to quality and operational transparency, serving as a foundation for sustained high performance and continuous improvement.

Branding and Communication

A clear and effective branding strategy that communicates the value of the team, practice, philosophy, and process is significantly more prevalent among higher performing teams. Such a strategy not only helps in conveying the unique value proposition and core beliefs of the team but also plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining clients who align with the team's philosophy and approach. The emphasis on clear communication through branding demonstrates a strategic effort to build trust and credibility.

Related video: Be Brilliant at Branding


Client Events

Hosting regular educational events for existing and prospective clients is a practice more common among higher performing teams, with 42% engaging in this activity compared to just 16% of lower performing teams. This approach not only serves as an effective tool for client engagement and education but also positions the team as a valuable resource beyond the immediate financial services provided.

Furthermore, the tendency to host exclusive events for the best clients is notably higher in higher performing teams, with 51% adopting this strategy versus 20% of lower performing teams. This exclusivity enhances client relationships and loyalty by making top clients feel valued and appreciated. A well-defined process for planning client events is reported by 48% of higher performing teams, compared to 26% of lower performing teams, indicating a strategic and methodical approach to event management that ensures each event meets its objectives and enhances the client experience.

Additionally, the practice of sending professional event invitations or tickets is significantly more prevalent among higher performing teams, with 53% doing so, contrasting sharply with only 15% of lower performing teams. This level of professionalism not only enhances the perceived value of the events but also reflects the team's commitment to quality and attention to detail.

Strategic Partners

Engaging with strategic partners or centers of influence, like accountants or estate planning attorneys, to offer a more comprehensive client experience is a tactic significantly more commonly employed by higher performing financial advisor teams, with 62% participating in such collaborations, in contrast to 33% of lower performing teams. This approach shows a commitment among higher performing teams to provide holistic financial solutions that extend beyond traditional financial advice, and enables them to position themselves as their clients' "Personal CFO."


Client Perceptions

The perception of providing an exceptional client experience significantly differentiates higher performing teams from their lower-performing counterparts, with 85% of higher performing teams receiving such feedback from their clients, compared to 61% of lower performing teams. This substantial gap underscores the effectiveness of higher performing teams in delivering services and interactions that not only meet but exceed client expectations.

The clarity of client expectations stands out as a key differentiator between higher performing teams and their lower-performing counterparts. With 78% of higher performing teams reporting that their clients have a clear understanding of what to expect from them, in contrast to 60% of lower performing teams, it highlights the importance of transparent communication and setting clear expectations in building trust and satisfaction. This gap suggests that higher performing teams are more effective in communicating their value proposition, services, and the outcomes clients can anticipate.

Ideal Clients and Introductions

The presence of a documented ideal client profile is more common among higher performing teams, with 70% reporting they have such profiles, compared to 52% of lower performing teams. This practice highlights the strategic approach of higher performing teams in defining and understanding their target market. By having a clear, documented profile of their ideal client, these teams can more effectively tailor their marketing, service offerings, and client interactions to attract and retain clients who best fit their business model and value proposition.

A significant distinction between higher performing financial advisor teams and their lower performing counterparts is evident in the rate at which their clients introduce quality clients. 

Related Article: Secret to More Client Referrals

The practice of expressing gratitude toward clients who make introductions, such as through thank-you cards or phone calls, is significantly more prevalent among higher performing teams, with 72% engaging in this gesture, compared to 43% of lower performing teams. This approach underscores the importance of acknowledging and valuing the contributions clients make to the growth and success of the business. By taking the time to personally thank clients for referrals, higher performing teams strengthen their relationships, fostering a sense of appreciation and mutual respect. This practice not only enhances client loyalty but also encourages the continuation of such valuable introductions.

Know Exactly What You Need To Do

As we draw this report to a close, financial advisors face a pivotal moment - adapt and refine using 2023's insights or risk stagnation. Excellence hinges on self-improvement and leveraging technology to enhance productivity and client communication.
What is the critical move? You must develop a playbook. It's your blueprint for a consistent client experience, organic growth, and scalability amidst technological shifts. This year, the choice is stark" embrace innovation or fall behind.
Your playbook is not just a strategy, it's your ticket to leading in your field. The future is about adaptation, and your readiness to evolve determines your success.

What can you do now, to begin your journey of optimization? It starts here:

  1. Assess Your Opportunity Gaps - Determine specific action items that you can take to begin to reach the full potential of your business. You can take your PMIndex for 2024 at this link (45 minutes):
  2. Consider a Coach or a Mentor - Find someone that can provide an outside view on your business, but also provide accountability and implementation support.
  3. Create A Plan - Outline what steps and action items you will implement. You can utilize the PMI reporting as the foundation for this plan.
  4. Action Must Be Taken - Don't just put a plan together, be accountable to it. Using coaching programs with resources, templates, worksheets, scripting, agendas and tutorials can provide the foundation for implementation.
  5. Constant Reassessment - Monitor your progress by completing the PMIndex annually. This will provide you with a framework for meaningful and measurable progress over time.

Download this FULL Report:  Practice Management Trends Report 2024

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2024-03-26 18:36:20 • 2 minute read

Client retention is the strategy

Is your business growing as fast as you'd like? Or is Client churn taking a toll on your practice? These are a major challenge for financial advisors, but it doesn't have to be this way. 

Who are you really marketing to? 

Financial advisors often think of marketing as a tool solely for attracting new clients. But what if I told you that strong marketing is one of the keys to keeping your existing clients happy and loyal?

This article dives into the surprising truth about marketing for financial advisors: it's not just about acquiring new business, it's about nurturing the relationships you already have. Our experience from coaching financial advisors, has shown us that keeping your existing clients informed will also translate  into client referrals in the future.

The NOT SO Shocking Reason Clients Leave Their Financial Advisors (and How to Stop It)

What is the number one reason that clients leave their advisors? Studies show that a staggering 71% of clients leave their advisors due to a lack of communication [source:].

They feel out of the loop and unimportant. By the time this issue comes to light, during that dreaded exit meeting, it's often too late. 

Imagine this: Sarah, a young professional, finally felt confident enough to meet with a financial advisor. She met with Jeremy, who seemed knowledgeable and put together a solid financial plan. But after the initial investment, communication dwindled. Sarah received generic quarterly reports, but no explanation of market fluctuations or how they impacted her portfolio. Months turned into a year, and Sarah felt increasingly out of the loop. Feeling unimportant, Sarah started researching other advisors.

So, how do you prevent this scenario and keep your clients engaged? The answer is simple: consistent marketing.

Marketing for Client Retention: A Win-Win Situation

Think of financial advisor marketing as a two-way street. Yes, it helps you attract new prospects, but it also allows you to consistently communicate with your current clients.

Imagine your client is saying this, "I never felt like I understood what was happening with my money. Then I found Ann, who shares regular updates explaining market trends and how they might affect my portfolio. She even hosted a client webinar on retirement planning that was incredibly informative. It feels like she genuinely cares and wants me to be successful."

Every marketing touchpoint, from emails and social media posts to educational content and client events, is an opportunity to connect with your existing client base. By consistently delivering valuable content and reinforcing your brand message, you're reminding them why they chose you in the place.

The Power of Consistent Communication Builds Loyalty

The same marketing strategy you use to attract new clients can be equally effective in retaining your current business.

Take this Client Testimonial: "I've been working with David for over 10 years now. He doesn't just manage my investments; he takes the time to understand my goals and concerns. He sends regular newsletters with financial tips and even throws client appreciation events where we can socialize and learn more about the market. It feels like a true partnership." - Michael L., Business Owner

The key lies in ongoing communication. Don't rely solely on annual meetings to connect with your clients. Regular marketing efforts ensure they see you, hear from you, and stay informed about your approach. 

Consistent Marketing Means More Referrals

Imagine having a team of loyal clients who rave about your services and refer their friends and family. This is the power of effective marketing. 

By consistently showcasing your brand, values, and process through various channels (email, videos, social media, events), you become a trusted figure in your clients' minds. This consistency builds trust and makes you the go-to financial advisor for their network.

Related Articles:

The Key Takeaways for Financial Advisors

  • Marketing is one of the Keys to Client Retention: Don't underestimate the power of marketing to keep your existing clients happy and engaged.
  • Brand Consistency is a must: Clearly communicate your people, practice and process through all marketing materials.
  • Multi-Channel Marketing Communication is Essential: Utilize a variety of channels (email marketing, social media marketing, etc.) to reach your clients.
  • Content is King (or Queen): Tailor your marketing content to resonate with your ideal client and their financial goals and interests. We recommend AdvisorStream as a turnkey marketing tool for Financial Advisors.
  • Focus on Building Relationships: Marketing is all about nurturing trust and connection with your clients.

By prioritizing consistent communication and building strong relationships, you can combat client churn and ensure your financial advisor business thrives. Let effective marketing be your secret weapon for client retention.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert. 

Or learn more about our financial Advisor business coaching at

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2024-03-19 16:40:05 • 2 minute read

Financial Advisor Branding: The Key to Long-Term ROI 

Advisors frequently ask me which marketing strategies are best for client acquisition. And while there is a place for some marketing strategies and campaigns, often I will steer the conversation to instead discuss the power of branding, and why it can be more effective than traditional marketing over the long haul.

Marketing is what you say to your clients, partners and prospects. Branding is what they hear. Furthermore, marketing tends to be campaign driven and doesn't have the staying power of branding which is typically on-going and part of your habits and rituals. To use the universe as a metaphor, marketing is like a shooting star - very fleeting. Branding is more of the steady burner - something that endures.

As a financial advisor you are in the knowledge for profit business. You think for a living. You aren't selling tangibles. You are promoting the promise of the future. That can be abstract and there are a lot of things out of your control. Branding helps take the abstract nature of what you do, and makes it easier to understand and appreciate.

That being said, all of your communications take time to sink in and be absorbed. Keep in mind that your MVP's (Most Valued Prospects) already have another financial provider. You are trying to position yourself as #2 and create a nagging feeling that they should consider their options. With existing clients, you want to competitor-proof those relationships, gain their full empowerment as unmet needs become apparent, and earn their endorsements. Endorsements are the distinction between a client and an advocate, but earning advocacy takes time.

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

Advocacy is created when you make it easy for your clients and partners to talk about you the messenger, not just your message. One simple example of branding is the use of coins in your client communications. I know of several advisors who now send a sterling silver dollar in a handsome case to pay tribute to a client who has referred a friend or family member. The coin is symbolic, and the client can hold it in their hands. Money and investing has become so virtual that the coin impact-fully snaps clients out of their fog and reminds them that money can be tangible and beautiful. It has immense shelf-life and anchors your relationship every time they look at it.

The Trojan Horse

Building on that, if you want to position yourself in the hearts and minds of the next generation - and throughout your clients' entire family trees for that matter - you can send your clients' children a penny beautifully framed with a reminder of the power of compounding noted on the back of the frame, as a birthday gift. You have undoubtedly seen the example of how a penny that compounds in value every day is worth over a million dollars after 30 days. It's a great metaphor to help a child understand the value of money, and the power of the rule of 72. I've heard of several examples of advisors who have made themselves indispensable to their clients and created incredible buzz throughout families, by creatively bringing value to their clients' kids when it comes to understanding money and investing. If you read The Millionaire Next Door by Tom Stanley, you already know the power of positioning yourself within the entire family.

Many of these same advisors have paper currency framed in their offices from countries ravaged by hyper-inflation. It is a conversation piece that can help you segue into a financial planning solution you provide.

Your Sense of Purpose is an Extension of Your Brand

These are just a few of the many tangible branding ideas available. They are simple and impactful but also remind you of the importance of what you do. Your legacy and purpose is tied directly to the value you bring people. The key is to inject some personality and creativity into your branding so that you aren't swimming in the pool of sameness with the countless other advisors who aren't memorable and are easy to dismiss.

Key takeaways from this article:

Branding is an investment in your future. A strong brand attracts high-value clients, fosters loyalty, and delivers sustainable ROI (Return on Investment).

Building a Strong Brand:

  • Emphasize your purpose: Connect emotionally with clients by highlighting the value you bring.
  • Craft a memorable identity: Inject personality and creativity into your branding.
  • Deliver consistently: Exceed client expectations and ensure your brand reflects reality.

Creative Branding Strategies:

  • Client appreciation gifts: Such as a tangible token like a silver dollar can strengthen client relationships.
  • Family engagement: Educate children about money with age-appropriate gifts.
  • Conversation starters: Use historical currency to initiate discussions about financial planning.


Continued Success!


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related Articles:

What is Branding? The Subtle Power of Branding


Would you like to implement financial advisor coaching best practices? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert to learn more about our Coaching Programs. 

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2024-03-18 18:59:55 • 2 minute read

Understanding Financial Advisor Branding: It's More Than Just Marketing

Simply put, it's someone's interpretation for value being offered that aligns with a want or need that they have - even if occasionally that want or need is subconscious. Branding activates an awareness for and trust in something that often triggers an instant appreciation for how your value can benefit their life. It's different from marketing. Branding is the client's view of a value proposition, where marketing is the vendor's pitch trying to land and resonate. Marketing is a claim. It's advertising in an attempt to create awareness for your value. It is essentially a promise statement. "You should try this. You'll like it!" As you know, marketing can often prompt a skeptical reaction or complete apathy.

If we were to say, "We are good coaches," that is marketing - again, it's a claim. If you were to tell us, "You are good coaches," that's branding. If a stranger called us and said, "A friend of mine insisted that I call you. He told me that you are good coaches," that would be branding in action moving the needle. Marketing is what you say - branding is what they hear and then relay on to someone else.

Branding is an outward expression of your value that is interpreted based on the prospective client's frame of reference, their current provider and other vendors they are vetting. It activates an awareness for an unmet need which they have that you could fulfill. It is the first impression for a prospective client, not unlike the curb-appeal of a house that's for sale, or the esthetics of anything that gets someone's attention early in a relationship. When you see a piece of art for the first time or listen to a song or try on a new shirt or taste food that instantly and automatically impacts you - there is an invisible connection, and there is nothing stopping it. You want it. You rationalize it. You convince yourself that you need it. It's like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Nothing stops this. The desire does not fade and unravel the way the impact of a sales pitch can.

Branding is not just a first impression, though. It's a lasting impression. Professional contrast is not a one-off event. It is something that must occur on an ongoing basis for as long as the relationship exists. In the spirit of advocacy, branding impacts how you are perceived and how you are described. In part, it's fueled by how you articulate, communicate and demonstrate your value to stand out from the pack. It's a sequential flow of value, communicated so that somebody can understand and appreciate everything your value does in an ascending way, and then it's your consistent execution that backs it all up after the person opts in.

Branding not only impacts prospective clients and existing clients, it impacts other influencers like strategic partners. Branding is the lifeblood of advocacy. It is reputational and can be relayed. Marketing can create transactions, but does not go anywhere near as far as branding when it comes to referrals. Introductions from advocates are a recurring revenue stream for your business and build the very fabric of your business. Transacting is like sewing without a knot at the end of the thread. Lastly, and it bears repeating, branding helps achieve stewardship, meaning your value is bought, not sold. 

Key takeaways:

What is branding? It's not just a logo or slogan. It's the overall perception of your business in the minds of your target audience. Branding goes beyond marketing to create trust, recognition, and loyalty.

Here's how branding differs from Financial Advisor Marketing:

  • Marketing is the "what you say" - your claims and promises about your value proposition.
  • Branding is the "what they hear" - how your target audience interprets your value and communicates it to others.

Think of branding as the curb appeal of your business. It's the first impression that grabs attention and sparks interest. Strong branding can create an unconscious desire for your product or service, similar to how a delicious dish or a beautiful piece of art can instantly captivate you.

The Benefits of Powerful Branding:

  • Increased brand awareness and recognition
  • Stronger client relationships and loyalty
  • Improved reputation and credibility
  • Effective word-of-mouth marketing and referrals
  • Premium pricing potential
  • Attracting and retaining top talent

Building a Strong Brand is critical for Financial Advisors:

  • Clearly define your value proposition. What unique benefit do you offer?
  • Develop a consistent brand identity. This includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts) and messaging (tone of voice, personality).
  • Deliver on your brand promises. Every client interaction should reinforce your brand identity.
  • Actively engage with your audience. Build relationships and encourage positive word-of-mouth.

By investing in branding, you're investing in the long-term success of your business. A strong brand will not only attract new clients but also turn them into loyal advocates who drive sustainable growth.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related articles:

The Subtle Power of Branding, Differentiating Begins with a Personal Branding Strategy


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert to learn more about our Coaching Programs. 

Or learn more about our Financial Advisor Business Coaching at


Keywords: branding, brand awareness, brand identity, brand loyalty, marketing, client perception, value proposition

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2024-03-18 16:42:48 • 2 minute read

Financial Advisor Branding: How to Stand Out From the Crowd

Branding is different from marketing in that it more quickly impacts how a prospective client perceives you at the moment they become aware of you. Literally, that first and lasting impression that snaps them out of their fog, gets their attention and resonates over the long haul. Branding also impacts how your clients and other influencers in the marketplace describe you to others when the opportunity presents itself.

Our approach is proven and is drawn directly from our one-to-one coaching program used by some of the most effective financial advisors in the business. It can ensure that you are perceived as a consultant by prospects and described as a professional with a process by clients and influencers.

And that is really the point. How are most financial advisors perceived - as sales people selling investments or as consultants providing an investment process? Many people today associate a financial advisor as a broker asking them to buy investments as opposed to a consultant asking them buy into a process and long term relationship. That's their expectation and you cannot feed that - you have to differentiate using effective messaging in all of your verbal, printed and multimedia communications.

Furthermore, it's becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the pack because the investment industry is becoming more and more commoditized each and every day. Along with that, there are forces at work that prompt people to focus on what you cost rather than what you are worth. Price is only an issue in the absence of clearly defined and relevant value. A solid branding strategy helps people focus on your unique value.

In addition to standing out, your goal is to get people's attention and be memorable. The velocity of noise your clients and prospective clients are exposed to is dizzying. There is a natural signal to noise ratio in this business - you want people to tune out the noise and tune in your signal. Branding helps you achieve this while ensuring you are positioned as an expert rather than being perceived as a salesperson.

As a consulting company for financial advisors, we are often asked what someone can expect from our practice management and business development consulting program. My answer is simple: we want to help you work half as hard and earn twice as much.

That is achieved by helping advisors deploy a full suite of best practices, use a fit-process instead of a sales process and implement a branding strategy that is more compelling and attractive to affluent clients.  

Key takeaways:

Our Proven Branding Strategy:

  • Position yourself as a consultant, not a salesperson. This approach emphasizes your process-driven approach and builds trust with potential clients.
  • Craft a compelling message across all communication channels (verbal, written, and multimedia) to highlight your unique value proposition.

Why Branding Matters for Financial Advisors?

  • Stand out in a commoditized industry. A good branding strategy ensures you are differentiated from other financial advisors.
  • Shift focus from cost to value. A strong brand clarifies your worth and attracts high-net-worth clients.
  • Cut through the noise. Break through the constant barrage of information and capture client attention.
  • Be perceived as an expert. Branding positions you as a trusted advisor, not just a product seller.


Continued Success!


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related articles:


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert

Or learn more about our Financial Advisor Business Coaching at

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2024-03-18 16:41:57 • 2 minute read

Branding: Beyond Aesthetics 

Does your value stand out to clients? How does your brand make someone feel initially, and then over time? You probably know the names Marion Morrison and Norma Jean. Marion Morrison was better known as John Wayne. It's not to say that he couldn't have been as popular had his stage name been Marion Morrison - Shakespeare talked about a rose smelling just as sweet. Norma Jean could have been just as popular as Marilyn Monroe, but there's a reason they (or their studios) decided to rebrand their names. In their world, they were trying to create followers. Some might misidentify this as ego, or having a hero complex, but at a basic level it is providing an aspirational example for the entertainment consumer. A lot of people in the world want to be lifted up, or to escape - to feel like they would have a shot, too. That feeling is an unmet need which entertainment can address. Smart positioning and messaging (or a name-change) can facilitate that. Something moved Robert Zimmerman to adopt the name Bob Dylan and his brand has survived for many decades.

(Fun fact, Hugh Dillon - his actual name - is the lead singer of The Headstones. He is also a notable actor with roles such as Sheriff Donnie Haskell in Yellowstone. If that's not impressive enough, he also played pond hockey with NHL Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour as kids. Hugh is a living legend. Watch the Headstones music video for Smile and Wave - a great mantra to live by - to see him in action in the 90's.)

There is a subtle power to branding. There are quantitative benefits, not just qualitative. In 1954, Peter Drucker wrote The Practice of Management in which he noted there is only one valid definition of a business's purpose: To create a customer. In this era, we might modify that a bit and say "to create and keep a customer." The modern volume of noise and the velocity of information is intense, but your branding strategy is your beacon and a means to an end. All roads lead to attracting and keeping great clients and converting them to advocates. 

Branding is not just about who you are, what you do and how long you have been doing it. For a majority of your competitors, that's how they think about branding and therefore they are in a competition to tread water because of commoditization. They strive to impress with technical knowledge. They use generic word salads and jargon. They're proficient but couldn't be less interesting. It's like listening to someone explaining their tattoo or describing last night's dream. Interesting to them, but not so much for the listener. They will say things like, "We do things differently here. We take a holistic approach." You might respond (with pardonable cynicism), "Oh, good, you're the one. Finally, I found someone who uses a holistic approach," because, again, technical ability is now a minimum requirement. 

Everyone says and aspires to being unique and professional. Branding should not just be bright lights and a coat of paint. It's not just staging a house to try to sell it for maximum value. It's bigger than that. It permeates everything, because it has to be backed up. Potential clients are going to look at the bones. They're going to look behind the curtain. They want to know that there is no over-promise/under-deliver. That you've got the goods - fully and completely. 

To summarize this New Era of Branding:

In today's information overload, cutting through the noise is critical. Your brand is your beacon, attracting ideal clients and turning them into advocates.

Branding is NOT about:

  • Bragging about experience. Technical expertise is a baseline expectation, not a differentiator.
  • Generic messaging. Avoid jargon and cliches like "holistic approach." Be specific and engaging.
  • Superficial aesthetics. Branding is more than a visual makeover. It reflects your core values and consistent delivery.

True branding is about:

  • Identifying unmet needs and offering a solution that resonates emotionally.
  • Delivering on promises. Building trust requires consistent quality and exceeding expectations.
  • Building long-term relationships. Convert initial interest into lasting customer loyalty.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related Articles: 


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert

Or learn more about our financial Advisor coaching at

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2024-03-05 17:46:04 • 2 minute read

Are you looking toward succession in your practice? Are you dependent on a protégé or partner to make all the gears mesh? Who's deciding where the ship is heading? Most importantly, will it work, both for you and your clients?

Too many mentors leave the protégé to their own devices to figure these things out. You can't play to maverick talent when looking toward franchise-readiness or a partial exit; you have to play to process and to your proprietary assets.

The most successful advisors to partner with a second-generation or junior created, essentially, a franchise-ready environment. This not only freed the mentor to focus on the top 20 percent of clients, knowing that the 80 percent were well taken care of by the protégé, it created the sense of an upgrade for clients, rather than feeling like they'd been handed-off, resulting in uncovering untapped new business opportunities along the way .

There are countless examples of successes, anticlimactic outcomes and outright failures in the acquisition world. The old model came down to the buyer focusing on what the business would cost, while the seller was fixated on what the business was worth with little emphasis placed on the key intrinsic and proprietary assets. There was also little thought applied to deploying a turnkey and proven process to communicate with the clients involved prior to, during, and after the transition.

Many knowledge-for-profit professionals who buy or sell a practice are only buying a book of business, not an actual business. There are several key performance indicators that go beyond the trailing 12. So what is the difference between a 1X transaction and a 2X or better multiplied transaction?

One of the most important issues is the quality of the client relationships. That is just as important as the quantity of total assets. How loyal are the clients based on how they have been served up to this point in the relationship? Have they 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. Most importantly, build a playbook that details and defines your processes so that your protégé - or anyone else - can bring the service your top clients deserve and expect, and which clearly communicates to clients what they can expect from the practice.

The bottom line is this: Whether you plan to buy or sell a business in the future, 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.

Understanding the process and communicating it clearly removes much of the friction that can occur. Deploying a process demystifies the experience and ensures there is minimal opportunity leakage - and that you don't squander your time.

Learn more about succession on Duncan's "Always On' Podcast:

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2024-02-27 16:27:33 • 2 minute read

As a financial advisor, preparing for the sale of your practice is a meticulous process that demands consideration of many factors. Whether you're planning for retirement, exploring new opportunities, or seeking a lifestyle change, getting your house in order is key to a successful transition. The following is a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through the essential steps to prepare for the sale of your practice:

1. Get Your Financials Straight

One of the foundations for preparing for the sale is crystal-clear financial records. Your potential buyers will scrutinize your financials to assess the health and viability of your business. Utilize QuickBooks to maintain a clean set of records, including a detailed Profit and Loss (P&L) statement. Break down your revenue sources, such as asset-based fees, financial planning fees, commissions, and insurance.

Make sure to distinguish between business-related expenses and personal expenditures. Clearly demonstrate any add-backs that may not be considered ongoing expenses for the business. Ensure that your gross income accurately reflects the true revenue your practice generates, providing potential buyers with a transparent understanding of your financial position.

2. Skip the 1099's

Having 1099 contractors in your organization can be a red flag for potential buyers. To enhance the appeal of your practice, consider transitioning to W-2 employment contracts with your staff. Establish solid employment contracts with non-compete and non-solicitation clauses to protect the continuity and integrity of your client relationships.

By streamlining your team under W-2 contracts, you create a more cohesive and stable structure, presenting a positive image to potential buyers. This move can alleviate concerns about the potential departure of key team members after the sale.

3. Exit the Money Management Business

Consider divesting from the money management aspect of your practice, especially if it's not a significant value driver. Transitioning to a Pure Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) model with negative consent can simplify the sale process. This strategic move not only makes your practice more attractive to buyers but also facilitates a smoother transition of client assets.

4. Focus on Net Flows and Lead Generation

Demonstrate the value of your practice by showcasing strong Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) and a robust lead generation funnel. Net flows - the difference between new assets gained and assets lost - can significantly enhance the perceived value of your business. Showcase your ability to attract and retain clients, emphasizing a sustainable growth trajectory.

Invest in a lead generation machine that consistently brings in new assets under management (AUM). A solid lead generation strategy can be a key differentiator and a major selling point for potential buyers.

5. Have a Succession Plan (G2 Plan)

Develop a comprehensive succession plan, often referred to as a G2 plan. This plan outlines how your practice will continue to operate seamlessly after your departure. Include details on key personnel, client transition strategies, and any ongoing support you may provide post-sale.

Having a well-thought-out G2 plan demonstrates your commitment to the long-term success of the practice and reassures potential buyers about the stability and continuity of client relationships.

In conclusion, preparing for the sale of your practice requires meticulous planning and execution. By getting your financials in order, transitioning to W-2 contracts, exiting the money management business, emphasizing net flows and lead generation, and having a robust G2 plan, you can enhance the appeal and value of your practice in the eyes of potential buyers. This strategic approach facilitates a smoother sale process and ensures the ongoing success of your practice beyond the transition.

If you're ready to explore the opportunity of maximizing some or all of your practice, contact JPTD for a consultation. 

- Article contributed by JPTD 

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2024-02-13 17:50:02 • 2 minute read

Advisors have seen that Client Advisor Councils (CAC) can be extremely beneficial to the growth of their practice and for refinements to their process that they continue to make over time. As an example, I recently spoke with one of our consultants, Mike Cy, about one of his advisors who broke down their process for everyone on the Always On podcast I do weekly.

Mike explained that it was enlightening for him to be able to be there and see the process firsthand, especially with an advisor that he'd become fairly close with over a period of years. 

Many of the things that he and the advisor had been working on were brought out for many of his clients during their most recent council meeting. The feedback to the questions provided was very open and honest, and it was extremely beneficial. 

Looking specifically at the steps taken, they first sought to create predisposition and buy-in from the target clients, in part by getting them to see the value in participating. 

Then, through continued contact with his clients, they uncovered and confirmed that which clients were interested in creating something like an advisory council. It was explained as a way to get everybody together for a round table discussion about things that they enjoy about the experience that they're having with the advisor, and to dig up less-positive things that might be in the back of their minds, or unmet needs. The vital point, Mike pointed out, was that getting a client side view of the matter through smart questions made both the process better and the clients more satisfied in and appreciative of the advisor's process.

Too often advisors don't understand the basic questions that clients are - or should be - asking. "How would I want to be treated? How would I view these different services?" are important questions, but very broad, and often asked of the advisor only to themselves. 

What this advisor did was invite the initial group together for the first advisory council meeting. There were about 12 individuals on council, which is a good number. Too large of a group can make people concerned about being open and honest with their input.

Prior to the meeting, the advisor took the most important step; he sent agendas out to describe the topics and questions that were going to be discussed, allowing council members to prepare a bit and decide what their thoughts were. In-depth questions that matter to clients are the fuel that powers a working CAC.

To help you spark your own CAC, here is a list of specific core questions you can supply with your agenda, or mention during other communications, or use as a guide during the meeting itself. We'd suggest that you select up to 10 questions (but probably not more) to address at your Client Advisory Board meeting:

  • How did you come to select us as your advisor?
  • What's the one thing you value most about our relationship?
  • Have we met, exceeded or fallen below your expectations?
  • What one thing do you feel we should improve on?
  • Is there one thing you feel we do especially well?
  • Are we communicating with you enough?
  • Are the materials we send you of value?
  • How do you describe us to family members?
  • Have we done a good job conveying our full array of services to you?
  • Do you see the merit in us engaging a Value-Added Support Team?
  • Directionally, do you anticipate your needs evolving?
  • How often would you like to be contacted? (Remember, you are describing your ideal scenario so don't be shy)
  • Are there other value-added services you would suggest we add to our business?
  • How do you feel about our [new letterhead, new logo ideas, etc.]?
  • Have we earned the right for you to feel comfortable enough to recommend our service to a colleague?
  • Did you find this session valuable? Do you think it would be worth doing again?

Implementing a Client Advisory Council is more than a strategic move; it's a commitment to growth, a testament to the value you place on your clients' voices, and a step toward a practice that is not just profitable, but also aligned with the needs and aspirations of those it serves. As we continue to navigate the complexities of financial services, let's remain steadfast in our quest for excellence: Always listening, always evolving, and always placing our clients at the very heart of our journey.

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2024-02-06 16:39:27 • 2 minute read

I've often emphasized the transformative impact of Client Advisory Councils. These councils are not just strategic tools, but platforms for profound engagement. They bring advisors and clients together to foster understanding, collaboration, and collective advancement.

What is a Client Advisory Council?

A Client Advisory Council is essentially a hosted meeting of a hand-picked group of ideal clients, brought together to provide honest feedback, impart wisdom, and engage in substantive discussions about the financial landscape and the financial advisor's services. It's a deliberate, structured, and meticulously orchestrated forum that leverages the collective intelligence and goals of clients to drive meaningful enhancements within an advisory practice.

Why Run a Client Advisory Council?

In an advisor's mission to deliver unparalleled services and innovative advice, the true driver of improvement lies in understanding our clients; their needs, concerns, and ambitions. Client Advisory Councils are pivotal tools to uncover those unmet needs and enable advisors to:

  1. Capture Genuine Feedback: In a domain awash with data and noise, authentic feedback is invaluable. These councils offer a rare platform for clients to voice their genuine thoughts and suggestions.
  2. Cultivate Client Loyalty: By involving clients in the evolution of an advisory practice, advisors demonstrate respect for their input, fostering loyalty and trust.
  3. Stay Proactive and Ahead: The financial advisory sector is dynamic. Insights from these councils enable advisors to anticipate shifts, refine strategies, and stay ahead of the curve.

How do I Build a Client Advisory Council? 

  1. Selecting the Right Participants: The composition of the council is crucial. A blend of seasoned and newer ideal clients offers a comprehensive perspective, enriching discussions and insights.
  2. Developing a Structured Yet Adaptable Agenda: While a structured approach is essential, flexibility is key. It's crucial to allow the conversation to flow naturally, ensuring comprehensive coverage of all important topics. Your agenda should drive conversation but not dictate its content.
  3. Implementing Action and Feedback Loops: The greatest value lies in post-meeting analysis. It's critical to study the feedback, make an action plan, and communicate the steps that will be taken based on this invaluable input.

The insights from these councils are game-changing. I can recall instances where the feedback led to significant shifts in advisory service models, aligning them more closely with what clients truly seek " transparency, partnership, and a commitment beyond financial metrics. All of which makes the advisor more referable and clients likelier to advocate for them.

Client Advisory Councils are more than feedback mechanisms; they are catalysts for mutual growth and evolution. They help advisors to actively listen, intelligently adapt, and continuously evolve, ensuring that their practices don't just survive but flourish. It's a path of learning, growth, and success, where both advisors and clients thrive together.

For an in-depth exploration of this topic, tune in to Episode 53 of the Always On Podcast where fellow Pareto Coach Mike Cy and I delve into the nuances of 'How to Run a Client Advisory Council,' offering practical insights and real-world experiences to guide you through this transformative journey by clicking here:

Written by Duncan MacPherson, CEO of Pareto Systems and author of The Blue Square Method

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2024-01-30 22:04:55 • 2 minute read

Developing an effective On-Boarding Process

My favorite topics for these articles stem from conversations I have with our coaching staff at Pareto Systems who share success stories from the field with me. Our coaching staff and I often have "Proof that it Works" conversations where they pass along feedback in terms of the impact our strategies are having on an advisor?s business.
Recently, I heard an interesting example about the importance of the New Client Process. As you may know, this process is the series of steps that take place from the moment you get a referral phone call right up to the point where you officially welcome a new person as a client, and everything in between. Many like to call this the On-boarding process.

At a glance, the New Client Process has five distinct steps:

  1. The Pre-Appointment Phase
  2. The 1st Appointment (or Fit Appointment)
  3. The Second Appointment
  4. The Third Appointment
  5. And finally, the New Client Welcome

Now, some might say that this seems like an awful lot of steps, and they would be right, but these are all necessary steps. This process is extremely attractive to potential clients, and more often than not, as a result of going through this process, the potential client ends up trying to convince the advisor to take them on as a client! On a regular basis, we also see advisors get referrals from someone shortly after bringing them on as a client! We see it happen all the time.

The coach who shared this story with me works with two brothers who have a successful practice in California. Both use this very same New Client Process, and they are enjoying a lot of success from this process and from their terrific implementation of it.

One of the brothers recently met with a prospective client, a wealthy lady who had north of $1,000,000 in investable assets.

As they sat down, and as the advisor pulled out the agenda to start the meeting, the lady announced the following: "I want you to know that I am interviewing different advisors"

The advisor, in a cool and collected way, replied: "Well, I would be surprised if you weren't. The reality is that we are interviewing you today as well. It is very important to our practice that my brother and I only take on clients that are a good fit."

I only wish that I was in the room at the time when they were having this meeting, so I could have seen how the dynamic changed after the advisor replied in this fashion. He didn't try to sell harder, or any of that nonsense, he simply stated the truth, which was that there were two decisions being made that day, both hers and his.

The wealthy lady became a client. It turned out that she had interviewed four different advisors in total, and the third such interview was with our client. It was just a few days later when a thank-you card arrived at the advisor's office. It was from the very same lady, and in the card, she thanked them for deciding to take her on as a client. What a change in attitude from that first meeting, and it all had to do with the attractiveness of the New Client Process, and the skill of our client in implementing it.

The woman wasn't done yet though. Shortly after the thank-you card arrived, my client received an email from her. She had copied her CPA on the email, and the message said: "You guys have to meet each other." The advisor gave the CPA a call, and they got together for lunch.

Over the lunch, my client learned that the CPA had a huge operation with 24 staff, and they specialized in ultra high-net worth types; the richest of the rich.
The advisor and his brother specialize in clientele in the 1-10 million range. The advisor candidly told the CPA this, and also told him that the ultra high-net worth types weren't really their niche.

Ironically, it turns out that the 1-10 million range wasn't the CPA's niche either. His focus was going to remain on the ultra high-net worth types, and he and my client are now discussing the CPA referring over business in the 1-10 million range to my clients as it appears. He regularly receives those types of referrals, but isn't really interested in that kind of business. The advisors certainly are though!

The next step is to show the CPA the highlights of the New Client Process, so that when the CPA does refer someone, he can take great confidence on that they will be well looked after, and how it will be done.

The bottom line is this. When you apply stewardship over salesmanship with a prospective client, you not only contrast yourself favorably to other advisors, you are also positioning yourself for advocacy with that person immediately. And then the domino effect begins.

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson


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2024-01-23 16:37:29 • 2 minute read

In our on-going consulting work, we find more and more financial advisors want to position themselves to successfully: 

  • Buy a practice
  • Sell a practice
  • Bring on a protege'

From a demographic perspective, there are three distinct groups among the many financial advisors we talk to on a regular basis. There are the 50+ advisors who are looking down the road at the eventual sale of their business. These advisors have been in the business a long time, achieved a high level of success, and are now three to five years out from transitioning to the next chapter in their lives.

Then there are the 30+ advisors who are extremely ambitious and want to light the after burner in terms of growing their respective business. But these advisors don't want to rely solely on organic growth, they want to acquire a business (or two), ideally from someone who has patiently and methodically built a durable business and is looking to exit.

And then there are the advisors somewhere in between who want to remain in the business but have a unique view on succession. Rather than sell, they want to leverage their momentum and plan for the future by grooming an associate (often a 2nd generation) or partner with an advisor (be it a junior or equal). While there is no specific timetable for succession, this advisor gets to create some scale, liberate themselves to focus solely on top clients, and create options for the future in the meantime.

Remove the Mystery

In each scenario, the key is to multiply the outcome and there are specific steps that can be taken to add precision to the process and predictability to the results.

Partnering is Not for Everyone

In the traditional partnering scenario there are countless examples of success, mediocrity and failure. The shining examples stem from an emphasis on fit and process. The also-rans stem from the fact there were few if any true synergies and the only real alignment of interest was to enhance the payout until the older partner transitioned out of the business. And the worst examples of a $500k advisor partnering with another $500k advisor and in time the combined revenue became $800k stem from a lack of preparation, incompatibility, and poor execution. 1+1 = 1.5 and with it came an increase in overhead and hassle factor. 

In the case of partnering with a junior advisor, especially someone related to the lead advisor, it is essential that the protege' understand:

  • Success goes beyond rates of return. Success is as much about relationship management as it is about asset management.
  • Run the business like a business. Following predetermined and documented procedures creates a consistent client experience ensuring the conversion of clients to advocates.
  • There are no free rides. The junior advisor needs to generate meaningful and measurable client acquisition and business development results from their own efforts.

Too many mentors leave the protege' to their own devices to figure things out. You can't play to maverick talent, you have to play to process. The most successful advisors to partner with a 2nd generation or junior created essentially a franchise-ready environment. This not only freed the mentor to focus on the top 20% of clients knowing that the 80% were well taken care of by the protege', it created an upgrade feel for clients rather than a hand-off resulting in uncovering untapped new business along the way.

There are countless examples of successes, anticlimactic outcomes and outright failures in the acquisition world too - both for the buyer and the seller. The old model simply came down to the buyer focusing on what the business would cost, while the seller was fixated on what the business was worth with very little emphasis placed on the key intrinsic and proprietary assets. There was also very little thought applied to deploying a turnkey and proven process to communicate with the clients involved prior to, during, and after the transition. 

Don't Sell a Book, Sell a Business

Many advisors who buy or sell a financial services practice are really only buying a book of business, not an actual business. There are several Key Performance Indicators that go beyond trailing 12. So 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-in to 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 this, whether you plan to buy or sell a business in the future, 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. 

Acquire a Real Asset, Not Just a Collection of Assets

As a buyer, there are so many tangible and intangible issues to address in your due-diligence process. The key is to look for a business that has been built on a foundation of predictable, sustainable and duplicable processes especially as it relates to service and relationship management. Again, the quality of the relationships driven by the expectations they have and the experience they've received will have a profound impact on relationship durability and untapped potential going forward.

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. As buyer, the longer you wait and less prepared you are, the more revenue and momentum you will forgo. In both cases, the dollars you make will be lower, but also in both cases the hassle factor and frustration will be higher. Preparation will help you squeeze more juice out of the orange.

Continued Success!


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2024-01-16 20:29:13 • 2 minute read

In the ever-changing field of consulting and financial advice, staying ahead of the curve is a necessity; but it's also a duty we owe to our clients. As the head of Pareto Systems, I've witnessed various technologies promising to transform our industry over the years. However, nothing compares to the impact ChatGPT and large language models are having on the profession.

The Power of AI in Enhancing Client Relationships

ChatGPT, a product of OpenAI, is not just another tech fad; it's a tool that is rapidly becoming indispensable. It's a digital brain, capable of processing vast amounts of information from the internet, turning it into actionable insights for advisors. Unlike traditional search engines geared towards advertising clicks, ChatGPT is designed to provide direct answers and solutions.

Consider a scenario where a client presents a complex 30-page real estate transaction for review. Traditionally, this would be a time-consuming task, potentially taking hours or days. With ChatGPT, you can get a comprehensive summary, key investment takeaways, and a balanced view of pros and cons in mere seconds. This not only saves time but also enhances your ability to provide prompt and informed advice.

Real-World Applications and Prompting Techniques

ChatGPT's utility extends beyond just data processing. It can be a partner in crafting communication strategies tailored to individual clients. For example, suppose you need to write a thoughtful email to a client about a specific issue. By providing ChatGPT with detailed client characteristics, it can generate a draft that resonates on a personal level, strengthening the client-advisor bond.

The key to maximizing ChatGPT's potential lies in effective prompting. Crafting precise prompts is an art that, when mastered, can yield highly customized and relevant outputs. Here are a few examples:

  1. Client Communication Enhancement: "ChatGPT, draft an email to a client who is concerned about market volatility, highlighting our strategy and reassuring them of our long-term approach."
  2. Complex Document Analysis: "Please summarize this 50-page financial report and identify the top five critical points relevant to an investment strategy for high-net-worth individuals."
  3. Personalized Client Interaction: "Create a list of thoughtful questions I can use to deepen my conversation with a client who is interested in philanthropic activities."

Embracing the Future

As financial advisors, our role is not just about managing wealth; it's about understanding our clients' aspirations, fears, and unique life situations. AI tools like ChatGPT allow us to transcend traditional barriers, offering personalized and efficient service. It's not about replacing the human element but augmenting it with technology's precision and speed.

In the coming years, AI will not only be a competitive edge but a necessity. The transition to AI-augmented advisory is not just about staying relevant; it's about elevating the value we bring to our clients. As leaders in our field, we must not only adopt these technologies but also become adept at leveraging them to enhance our client relationships and operational efficiency.

In embracing AI like ChatGPT, we are not just adopting a new tool; we are stepping into a new era of advising. An era where our expertise is amplified by the power of AI, enabling us to provide unparalleled service to our clients. As we journey into this exciting future, let us remain committed to our core values of trust, wisdom, and personalized service, ensuring that as the world changes, our commitment to our clients remains steadfast.

By Duncan MacPherson

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2024-01-09 19:11:48 • 2 minute read

On a macro level, you have to get clear on the mechanics and motivations that lead to consistent referrals. Start by asking yourself two questions:

  • Why don't they?
  • Why should they?

Most of your clients don't "go there" because they are unclear of how it looks to get involved in someone's life and potentially put their own reputation on the line. They are undermined by a subconscious "no good deed goes unpunished" mindset, so they don't get involved, even when the opportunity is presented. It's not that they're unconvinced or unmotivated, there is just some uncertainty about referring, so they don't. Unless a client or partner is crystal clear about how it will reflect on them, there's a blockage.

There is a nurture/nature dynamic at play. With some people, you don't have to overthink it. They are wired to be "power brokers." They like to come through for people and they are on the lookout to make connections. You can nurture that attitude with others.

Look at the word coincidence - stemming from the word coincide - a need a friend has, that aligns and coincides with the confidence a client has for your value - the friend bared his or her soul, the conversation prompted an instant thought of you, and boom - an incredible coincidence of wants and value. Your client wants his or her friend to be taken care of and wants them to be in good hands. Your client also wants you to thrive, but in that order, not the other way around. It's not because of a sense of obligation to you. It's about doing a friend a favor.

Lead with Purpose

It all has to be built on a rock-solid foundation of service and stewardship. You have to position the concept of speaking to a friend of a client as a service you are providing to the client - without any expectation that it may lead to business. The client has to then, in turn, view it as doing a friend a disservice by not lighting the path to you. That is the nexus of advocacy. It feels just as good to come through for someone as it does to be taken care of - and as it does to attract new clients to your business.

That foundation is framed in purpose and process:

  • Step 1 - define the what and why
  • Step 2 - define the who and how

What and Why

It's an introduction, not a referral. Take the word referral out of your language and focus more on the activity rather than implied productivity. Then, tell people why you do it. It's rooted in your sense of purpose. Helping people is why you chose this profession, and it's easily the most fulfilling part of it. Punctuate that by saying, "if you ever happen to introduce someone to me, they do not need to become a client to take advantage of this service. If they are important to you, they are important to me."

That form of professional scarcity and stewardship is also your bridge to clarifying who you're suited for.

Who and How

Be sure to tell the world who they should introduce - you'll talk to anyone who is important to the client - but you only accept new clients who are introduced provided it's a good fit. Describe your ideal client based on AAA PLUS and remind them that you are all things to some people, rather than the other way around.

Communication on who is important for many reasons. By sticking to your defined approach, you've added a circuit breaker that prevents you from going beyond your capacity. However, it needs to be reinforced, because occasionally you might have a client tell you, "I was thinking about introducing my friend, but I don't think he's big enough for you." Which might seem like a sensible interpretation and reaction, until you find out that the friend has a successful business and a variety of needs that would, at least on the surface, suggest an alignment of interests. Professional scarcity can be a double-edged sword. If that ever happens, remind them first of the PLUS component - that the primary factor of fit is that they are People Like US. Secondly, remind clients that an introduction to be a sounding board for a friend is not tied to "how big they are," and then let the process figure the rest out.

Now, we reach the pivot to outlining for a client "how to get things rolling."

"There is a process in place that my clients use to make an introduction. If you feel compelled to steer someone my way, step one is to give me a call. Tell me about your friend and get the wheels in motion. I'll take it from there. I'll reach out and have an initial chat. There is no expectation it needs to go any further than that. I'm led by them. If they want to meet, I'll schedule some time and send out my introductory kit so that they can learn a little about my people, my practice and my process in advance, and then we can go from there, and you can hold me accountable that this will be a good use of their time."

Provide specifics in terms of what will happen, and then instructions for the actions they can take. Based on your compliance realities, you can encourage an introductory text or email, or even a direct message on social media. Whatever the method, clarify the process precisely. When they are well coached, they will know to be on the lookout for triggering events, and know how to bridge their friends' dissatisfaction with an easy-to-understand statement - "My guy works with business owners and he knows his way around liquidity events like no other, I can make an introduction."

Remember: Advocates call you directly on behalf of a friend. Clients endorse you and tell their friends to call you, and you know how that generally works out.


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2024-01-02 19:20:52 • 2 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.

New Year's Resolutions

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.

Achieving Your Goals

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!

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2023-12-19 19:36:37 • 2 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 business 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

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2023-12-12 21:33:06 • 2 minute read

I’ve never been a big fan of the jargon that exists in this space: “Book of business”, “production”, “circle of influence” and “holistic planning”, just to name a few. To me, they speak more to the advisor’s interests, or are simply not intuitive to a client. It’s the lexicon of salesmanship rather than stewardship. I would much rather you refer to your value as being addressed by a panoramic process. To your network of trusted service providers, as a value-added support team. Some might consider that semantics, but I think everything matters and that everything should be client-centered.

Formalizing Your Strategic Partner Process

To that end, I’d like you to consider formalizing how you engage other professionals into your process such as trusted accountants, estate planning attorneys, and real-estate agents to name a few. Rather than simply referring clients out to a different professional, formally create a listing of trusted and vetted professionals. There could be two tiers - core strategic partners that compliment your technical ability as well as others, including clients, who deliver value in a specific area.

Consider this - I’m sure you’ve had clients who have recently opened up to you and bared their soul about things going on in their lives. Good or bad, silver linings or dark clouds, or information about new or rekindled hobbies and interests. Getting into shape, taking better care of themselves. Newly discovered benevolent activities and the like, all the way across the spectrum to relationships, fears and anxieties, even mental health issues. Make a listing of services - not specifically names, but areas of expertise – that focus on those client concerns. A list so you can reach out to those specialists and inform them that you want to create a Value-Added Support Team (VAST) formed from your array of relationships - and to the specialist members of which you could introduce someone where there’s a potential need.

Creating a Value-Added Support Team (VAST)

If they see the merit in being involved, ask them this: “If an opportunity presents itself where I can make an introduction, what would you like me to say? How would you like me to describe you?” Be ready for a lively conversation, punctuated by the same question asked of you, to which you can reply by quickly outlining the strength of your people, the quality of your practice and the panoramic nature of your process. You can even go so far as to exchange introductory kits to bridge intent to actual consent.

When it comes to introductions, stirring the pot like this will create a culture of advocacy and reciprocity and an elevated client experience. You will find yourself with more opportunities to collaborate in terms of events, webinars, and in social media, so that you can be exposed to the first-degree-of-separation relationships. That could be not only your MVPs, but their clients and acquaintances, some of whom could be your future most valuable prospects.

Commitment and Patience

I don’t want to oversimplify this initiative. It requires a logistical process, a commitment and patience. If you stick with the process, you can add value to client relationships, making them deeper and more loyal. You also convert professional relationships into a mutually beneficial two-way street network, where you can be consistently introduced to more entrepreneurs and professionals that closely resemble your ideal client profile. There is an art and science to this, but in the end, giving does start the receiving process.

Continued Success!

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2023-12-06 20:10:24 • 2 minute read

In the rapidly evolving landscape of wealth management, the fusion of artificial intelligence and financial advisory services has ushered in a new era of precision and efficiency. Financial advisors, entrusted with the responsibility of navigating clients through intricate investment decisions, are increasingly turning to advanced AI tools to gain insights, enhance communication, and personalize recommendations.  

This article spotlights 10 AI tools that are reshaping the way professionals approach their craft. Choosing the right AI tools for your business is a nuanced decision, contingent upon the unique needs and aspirations of your enterprise. The impact of AI is multifaceted across various business domains, and in various areas of focus, including:

  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with AI
  • Email Marketing Automation
  • Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Content Creation
  • E-commerce Recommendations
  • Human Resources and Recruitment
  • Cybersecurity
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Supply Chain and Inventory Management
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) 
  • AI-Powered Analytics Platforms

In the evolving world of business, staying ahead of the curve is the name of the game. The spotlight of efficiency in 2024 falls on Generative AI, marking a paradigm shift from experimental curiosity to an indispensable component of daily workflows. It’s the secret sauce enhancing processes, sparking a revolution in how teams gauge success and productivity. \

Gartner, the oracle of tech predictions, foresees a staggering growth spurt in the global artificial intelligence market. They advise you brace yourself for a compound annual growth rate of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030, propelling the market to a jaw-dropping $1,811.8 billion by the end of this decade.

As the AI landscape expands, the quest is on for tools that will stand the test of time. Here, we list 10 AI options that we expect to redefine success in 2024. These aren’t just tools; they’re resources armed with capabilities for better decision-making and liberating teams to be more productive with their time. It’s not just about keeping up; it’s about propelling forward into a future where success is redefined by the transformative force of AI.

Whether you’re an established enterprise or just starting out, these AI tools are shaping the future of business:


  1. ChatGPT: Conversational Genius

    Meet the trailblazer that set the AI world abuzz back in 2022 and continues to dominate: ChatGPT by OpenAI. More than just a chatbot, ChatGPT leverages conversational AI to engage users in meaningful dialogue, answering questions and fostering interaction.

    This AI powerhouse is rooted in an advanced language model, honed by diverse internet text and fueled by transformative innovations in architecture, with the latest model, GPT-4, taking sophistication to new heights. However, it’s important to note that all ChatGPT versions, while delivering unparalleled responses, may introduce security risks and response hallucinations. To navigate these challenges, it’s crucial for teams to define safe use-cases when deploying any version of ChatGPT for business purposes.

    Key Features:

    Natural language understanding
    • Contextual responses
    • Multi-lingual support
    • Knowledge base integration
    • Instructional response customization
  2. Read.AI: Meeting Recaps & Insights

    Get instant meeting recaps from Read.AI. Deliver automated summaries to clients including: topics discussed, action items, key questions, coaching tips, and recommendations after every Microsoft Teams meeting.

    For the ultimate hybrid meeting experience, Read.AI offers real-time engagement and sentiment scores, a meeting timer, talk time, words per minute, and coaching tips—all conveniently accessible in one place. Post-meeting, receive a comprehensive report complete with a transcript, audio and video playback, and AI-driven recommendations.

    Key Features:

    • Real-time engagement and sentiment scores
    • Meeting timer, talk time, and words per minute metrics.
    • Automated meeting recaps with comprehensive insights.
    • Transcript, audio, and video playback for thorough review.
    • AI-driven recommendations for continuous improvement.
  3. Pictory: Crafting Stories with Ease

    Enter Pictory, the AI video generator revolutionizing content creation without the need for editing expertise. This cloud-based app transforms scripts or articles into high-quality videos effortlessly. Whether you’re a blogger or a business, Pictory turns your written content into engaging videos fit for social media or websites. Its user-friendly interface makes editing webinars, podcasts, Zoom recordings, and more a breeze, delivering professional results in minutes.

    Pictory’s standout features include:

    • Video creation based on articles or scripts
    • Text-based video editing
    • Shareable video highlight reels
    • Automatic captioning and summarization
  4. Jasper: Your Writing Sidekick

    Jasper isn’t just an AI writing assistant; it’s a companion for content creators, marketers, and businesses navigating the content jungle. This versatile tool crafts diverse content types – blog articles, product summaries, promotional text, and emails. What sets Jasper apart is its brand-voice capability, allowing users to infuse their unique brand identity seamlessly into AI-generated content.

    Key Features:

    • Engaging content creation
    • Tailored AI for your brand voice
    • Real-time information retrieval
    • Seamless integration into your workflow
    • Secure, scalable, and customizable writing assistant
  5. Murf: Giving Voice to Text

    At the zenith of AI voice generators stands Murf, a text-to-speech app useful for professionals in varied fields. This tool lets you convert text to speech, voice-overs, and dictations with a myriad of customization options for natural-sounding voices. Murf’s AI voice-over studio includes a built-in video editor, offering a comprehensive solution for creating videos with voiceovers.

    Key Features:

    • Library with 100+ AI voices across languages
    • Expressive emotional speaking styles
    • AI Voice-Over Studio
    • Customizable through tone, accents, and more
  6. Synthesys: Elevating Video Content

    Create hyper-personalized AI videos at scale in minutes, not days. Synthesys AI Video Generator lets you create engaging, beautiful videos for your brand without the cost of traditional studio time.

    Generate unique, professional text-to-video clips by leveraging AI avatars made with real actors (Humatars) that can create voiceovers in more than 140 languages, Synthesys makes it easy to create lifelike videos for any use case.

    Get creative with more than 60 avatars to choose from. No matter what your target demographic is for the video content you’re creating, Synthesys AI Video Generator has an avatar that can speak directly to them.

    Key Features:

    • 69 real Humatars
    • 140+ languages and 254 unique styles
    • Excellent for explainer videos, eLearning, and social media
    • Easy-to-use interface for editing and rendering
  7. The All-in-One Voice Wizard is an award-winning AI-based voice generator and text-to-speech platform. Renowned for its real human-like voices, offers over 500 AI voices, granular control for producers, and video editing capabilities through its latest innovation, Genny.

    Key Features:

    • World’s largest library of voices (500+ AI voices)
    • Granular control for professional producers
    • Video editing capabilities
    • Resource database of non-verbal interjections, sound effects, and more
  8. Fireflies: AI Meeting Harmony is an AI meeting assistant orchestrating seamless collaboration. With NLP at its core, Fireflies eliminates the need for note-taking during meetings, providing instant recording, transcription, and searchable voice conversations.

    Key Features:

    • Automated meeting transcription
    • AI-powered note-taking
    • Action item tracking
    • CRM integration
    • Collaboration tools
  9. Email Harmony Redefined

    Lavender steps into the limelight as an innovative email assistant, rewriting the rules of communication and productivity. With AI-powered insights and real-time suggestions, it goes beyond traditional email tools, understanding recipient nuances and optimizing communication effectiveness.

    Key Features:

    • AI email coaching
    • Personalization assistant
    • Real-time optimization
    • Email intelligence
    • Sentiment analysis
  10. Zoom Video Communications: AI-Powered Collaboration

    Embark on efficient and user-friendly video conferencing with Zoom. This platform seamlessly integrates AI for virtual meetings, webinars, and collaborative discussions.

    Key Features:

    • AI-driven noise cancellation for clear audio.
    • Virtual background and facial recognition.
    • Automatic transcription for meeting notes.

*This article was written by the Marketing team at Pareto along with a little help from AI

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2023-11-28 19:58:47 • 2 minute read

As a financial professional who has transitioned from managing a book of business to running a full-fledged enterprise, your focus on practice and relationship management is as crucial as asset management. To truly excel in this role, having the right technology, specifically the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, becomes imperative. A well-chosen CRM can streamline your operations, enhance client experiences, and help you translate your business philosophy and strategies into tangible results.

Over the years, we’ve engaged with financial professionals who share a business owner mindset. They deeply appreciate the philosophy and proven strategies outlined in The Advisor Playbook and The Blue Square Method. However, they seek a solution that empowers them to seamlessly translate these concepts into actions, consistently elevating the client experience they deliver. To ensure that you are effectively managing your practice and enhancing client relationships, we present the following 10 essential considerations when exploring CRM solutions:

1.  Automates Best Practices

One of the most crucial aspects of a CRM for financial advisors is its ability to serve as a platform for implementing best practices within your business. To thrive in the competitive world of financial services, it’s essential to have a system that not only stores client data but also guides you toward proven strategies that drive success.

A robust CRM can act as a central hub for best practices, allowing you to automate processes, track key metrics, and ensure consistency in your interactions with clients. By leveraging the power of your CRM to implement industry-proven strategies, you can elevate your client service, increase efficiency, and ultimately achieve better results. Look for a CRM that not only stores information but actively supports your journey to becoming a more effective and successful financial advisor.

2. Keeps Your Data Proprietary

You work on your business, and you understand that every investment of effort you make contributes not just to day-to-day profitability, but also to your intellectual property and enterprise value.

All of that - your best practices, client relationships and business systems - are valuable proprietary assets. They’re your life’s work. Your data is proprietary. Make sure your CRM keeps it that way.

3. Keep it Simple

To be candid, virtually all CRM solutions are far too complex. Feature creep is a tech term that speaks to how developers keep adding layers of functionality to a solution - features that don’t address real-world needs and, instead, bog down the user.

Make sure your CRM is intuitive and easy to use, with customizable, automated procedures that balance high-tech with high-touch. Remember, technology is supposed to serve your life, not the other way around.

4. Will it Support an Automated Service Model?

The keystone to maximized, long term relationships is to segment clients and then deploy an automated service model tied to the caliber of those clients. Bookending reactive client service with a scheduled and consistent client experience is why successful business owners thrive over time.

Make sure your chosen CRM can automate those practices and keep you on track. The number one reason a client leaves a service provider is lack of consistent communication. The number one reason why a service provider hits a plateau is because they unknowingly spend 80 percent of their time reacting to the 80 percent of their clients who generate just 20 percent of the business.

A solid CRM with an automated service model will avoid those pitfalls

5. Organization, Structure and Redundancy

Your clients, and your team, crave consistency. The Rule of Three in practice management says that anything you do three or more times and has three or more steps, must be a standardized operating procedure.

Your CRM should provide your team with oversight, redundancy and accountability, because roles and responsibilities are aligned with your org chart. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks and you’re not at the mercy of maverick talent who have your operating system in their heads. Instead, build and automate your procedures in your CRM

6. Achieve Professional Contrast

When you connect and interact with a prospective client, especially if they’ve been introduced to you by an advocate, your fit process is designed to differentiate you in a way that demonstrates how elevated you are in comparison to their soon-to-be-former provider. As the saying goes, for you to get hired, their existing provider has to get fired.

Your value is bought, not sold. Your CRM should enable you to stand out from the pack by being the most methodical and communicative. This lets you attract new clients, rather than chase them.

7. Fast Track New Clients to Advocate Status

How you start a relationship will have a profound impact on its profitability and durability, not to mention your refer-ability over the long haul.

A good CRM will enable you to effortlessly deploy a refined and optimized on-boarding process that will transition new clients to your environment and, in the process, validate their decision so they feel compelled to share their enthusiasm with friends and family members, activating referrals quickly and predictably.

8. Future Pace Relationships through FORM

As a financial professional you must have a needsbased approach to diagnose unmet needs and get out in front of evolving needs as a client’s life unfolds. There was a time this was enough, but today it’s a minimum requirement.

A CRM that lets you harness the power of FORM (Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money) information means your data-driven actions will ensure your clients know that you don’t just care about them, you care specifically about what they care about. Don’t rely on your memory, always have the most important client data at your fingertips.

9. Service & Support

The client service bar in a variety of business sectors has lowered dramatically over the years. When you reach out to call most companies today, an automated bot answers the phone, tells you that your call is important and proceeds to demonstrate that your call is not important by asking you to jump through hoops, doing everything possible to avoid actually talking to you.

Make sure your CRM provider offers real service, real onboarding and real answers when you have questions. The amount of time and money saved here can be immense.

10. Streamlined Team Collaboration

In business, teamwork is vital. Look for a CRM that simplifies team collaboration. It should offer shared access to client information, task management, and real-time communication tools. This ensures everyone is on the same page, reducing miscommunication and duplicated efforts.

Efficient collaboration means smoother processes and better service for clients. It allows for a more integrated approach to client relationships, with every team member having access to the latest data and insights. Choose a CRM that strengthens teamwork, and watch your practice thrive through enhanced coordination and communication.

In your journey to elevate your financial advisory practice, choosing the right CRM is paramount. It can be the difference between a streamlined, efficient operation that delights clients and a cumbersome, time-consuming endeavor that hinders your growth

While there are various CRM options available, it’s worth considering the Toolkit CRM by Pareto as one of your choices. It aligns with the vision and values of professionals who prioritize practice and relationship management. With exceptional CRM support and streamlined team collaboration, the Toolkit CRM can empower you to succeed in running your practice like a true business. So, as you explore CRM solutions, remember these ten essential considerations. Your choice will shape the way you manage your practice, foster client relationships, and ultimately, define your path to success. Choose wisely, and elevate your financial advisory practice to new heights.

Visit to learn more and schedule a demo today.

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2023-11-21 16:31:25 • 20 second read

As a business owner or team leader you wear a lot of hats, but an enlightened philosophy and approach can create accelerated trust. That trust comes through contrast, initially, and then develops into durable trust over the miles you cover with your clients.

The five Cs of the C-Suite can help define your route…

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2023-11-07 17:18:02 • 2 minute read

I’ve been speaking a lot recently as it relates to communication, engaging your clients to tell your story.

Social proof is a powerful force, and, as you probably know by now, there are some parameters in place around using client testimonials and success stories, focusing more on what your value does and less than what it is...

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2023-10-31 19:39:05 • 20 second read

The Intersection of the Blue Square and Blue Zone

From the boardwalks of Atlantic City to the shores of Okinawa, Japan, the concept of purposeful living and work is more resonant than ever. Today, I’d like to explore the confluence of two profound ideas - the Blue Square Method and the Ikigai.

You might wonder how a bustling city in South Jersey relates to a serene Japanese principle of fulfillment. As I recently mused over the redevelopments of Atlantic City, I was reminded of the continuous

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2023-10-17 18:54:12 • 2 minute read

The Case for Stewardship Over Salesmanship

When it comes to client acquisition and business development, the most enlightened philosophy is that of stewardship, not salesmanship. Salesmanship asks a client to buy something, chasing them with closing techniques and trying to convince them to take action. It often over-promises and under-delivers. Stewardship asks a client to buy into something, attracting them with a process-driven, win-win approach, and letting them come to their own conclusions - convincing themselves with reason and self-motivation…

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2023-10-03 20:59:11 • 2 minute read

New Rules mean New Opportunities

The recent amendment by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow financial professionals to use testimonials has brought about a transformative change in the financial services sector. In this digital era the significance of online reviews is hard to overstate. Testimonials are emerging as a crucial tool for financial professionals to reinforce existing relationships and forge new ones...

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2023-09-19 15:38:48 • 2 minute read

In the journey of personal and professional development, a mentor is a guiding beacon. They see and foster virtues in a budding protégé, qualities that will create a foundation for a thriving…

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2023-08-15 17:06:05 • 20 second read

If you received six referrals in the last 12 months, you were probably talked about and endorsed 30 times. It’s about a five-to-one ratio between endorsement and introduction. Closing that gap is not only where the lowest-hanging fruit lives, but your growth model elevates you from transacting…

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2023-07-25 19:50:41 • 2 minute read

The Key to Meaningful Client Relationships

As professionals, we revel in our industry knowledge and technical ability, often taking pride in our mastery over a plethora of financial terms. But have you ever paused to think about your client’s perception? Every industry has its jargon, and the financial sector is no exception with over 13,000 financial terms at its disposal. While these terminologies may demonstrate our competence, they often leave clients feeling overwhelmed and excluded.

Take a moment to consider this analogy. Imagine you’ve recently purchased an e-bike, a device you enjoy and appreciate for its convenience and adaptability...

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2023-07-11 17:47:38 • 2 minute read

You’re taking all aspects of your enterprise value seriously. You’ve got a fundamentally sound business. The metrics are impressive. Client loyalty, longevity and engagement are measurable. The EBITDA is strong. Your feeworthiness is undeniable. You have tidy books, documented procedures, a sticky staff and IP with meaningful intrinsic value. Maybe you should just sit on that, enjoy the ride, and wait for a buyer down the road who meets your criteria, while paying you 6x rather than most of your competitors who get 2x?

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2023-06-21 17:39:08 • 2 minute read

The Power of Personalized Content

In the ever-evolving world of financial advisory services, relationship management is an indispensable aspect of your work. As someone who deeply values client connections, I want to share my belief that the future lies in content marketing…

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2023-06-06 20:23:50 • 2 minute read

Why Acquiring a Business May Not Be the Right Move

In a world where business growth and expansion are highly valued, the decision to acquire a business can seem like the logical next step for many entrepreneurs. However, it is essential to consider the potential pitfalls and challenges that come with such a move…

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2023-05-10 16:05:06 • 2 minute read

Many of my friends are business owners, and many of our clients have gone deep into attracting and keeping great clients who are business owners. I’d like to share with you a little bit about the why and the how. Why business owners are the ideal clients, and how to attract - not chase - a steady stream of high-quality business owners…

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2023-05-02 19:28:42 • 2 minute read

The idea of "go big or go home" is often preached in the world of business development. That you must constantly strive for bigger and better things is deeply ingrained in our culture, and is often seen as the key to success. I believe that there is a different way of approaching business growth that is just as effective, if not more so…

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2023-04-25 20:30:53 • 20 second read

Market volatility, political uncertainty, competitive forces and various external dependencies are facts of life for a knowledge-for-profit professional.

It would be great if the world cooperated with our plans on a consistent basis, but that is not the way it is. That’s why clients hire you. Your ability to deal with this reality is a major factor that separates the best from the rest...

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2023-04-18 20:32:40 • 2 minute read

The popular show ’Love It or List It’ focuses on homeowners renovating their home to maximize its value, intending (initially) to sell it and move somewhere else. However, as they go through the process, they often find themselves falling back in love with their original home...

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2023-04-11 19:41:46 • 2 minute read

The arrival of spring is a time of renewal and anticipation, and as we move from the cold winter months into a time of growth and new beginnings, it’s the perfect opportunity to rekindle relationships with clients and colleagues alike…

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2023-04-04 20:27:48 • 2 minute read

Proactive Communication Ensures that Your Clients focus on Your Plan Rather than on the Markets

We all know that communication is often as big, or an even bigger factor, to refer-ability than performance. Obviously rates of return matter, but long term relationships stem from trust, and trust is created by a comfort level that is supported by consistent communication... 

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2023-03-28 20:25:09 • 2 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…

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2023-03-21 20:41:20 • 2 minute read

by Duncan MacPherson

Use my summary of John Kenneth Galbraith’s book A Short History of Financial Euphoria to add impact to your messaging to be compelling and attractive to clients:

As a financial advisor, you know all about the distinction between the message and the messenger. The message is more about the products and services you represent. The messenger is more about you and your ability to be the voice of reason to clients during times of intense turbulence and uncertainty....

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2023-03-14 20:06:22 • 20 second read

The statement "every business is built to be sold" may sound counterintuitive, especially to business owners who have dedicated their lives to building and growing their enterprises. However, upon closer examination, this assertion reveals itself to be a valuable piece of advice for all entrepreneurs, including financial professionals.

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2023-03-07 21:16:53 • 2 minute read

Leading up to 2023, what made a financial professional successful? What activities did they focus on? What did their team actually implement? Do years of experience necessarily mean that you will be more successful? Does having a larger team mean that you run a better practice? Overall, where does the industry stand in practice management?

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2023-02-28 21:52:16 • 2 minute read

An Always On approach to conversion and convergence propels you down a path where you can eventually pivot from a strictly organic B-to-C growth model to a scalable B-to-B growth model. It enables you to buy an undervalued business from a retiring competitor or colleague. You can attract protégés who have plateaued because of the friction of the world, who can draft in behind your process and replicate your outcomes without being left to their own devices…

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2023-02-21 21:32:26 • 2 minute read

The Fee-for-Service business environment is a fascinating business model and very conducive to scale. For comparison, look at other sectors that don’t just transact, but can create recurring revenue, lift and scale...

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2023-02-14 21:30:17 • 20 second read

If you get to the point where you say, “it’s go time” on the business-to-business (B2B) model and you’re confident in your business to consumer (B2C) IP and adoptability, the next things to clarify before you go to market are your hook and your B2B process...

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2023-02-07 20:49:44 • 20 second read

Part of our core mantra is that service is branding. Service is marketing. If that sounds like a generic statement to toss in for the sake of it, allow us to clarify. A while back we had a consultation with a pretty substantial Advisor…

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2023-01-31 20:14:46 • 20 second read

A quick tribute to Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, here. You probably weren’t expecting another Spider-Man reference, but to paraphrase, with great knowledge comes great power and great responsibility. The lesson is simple, gather FORM knowledge and engage ALL meaningful stakeholders into the process as the relationship unfolds.

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2023-01-24 20:44:06 • 2 minute read

As you can gather by now, the recurring theme throughout this book is “have a process.” It can seem tedious at times, but the multitude of benefits on the other side of development and deployment are worth the effort.

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2023-01-17 17:33:36 • 2 minute read

A quick word about seeking out options for outsourcing some of the commoditized aspects of your Technical Ability and Core Competency (TACC) over to bona fide models and platforms that are proven to add efficiency to your overall deliverables. As an example, a financial professional in his 50s was hitting his stride and finding renewed enthusiasm for his business by...

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2023-01-10 17:35:05 • 2 minute read

The energy shifts from the first to the second meeting. Leading up to your first meeting, the prospective client might have felt some apprehension – but that was squelched quickly – and then moved to a state of anticipation for the potential of the relationship. As you onboard the soon-to-be client, the mood shifts to validation. This is where your actions continually confirm their decision and appreciation that this might even be better than they expected.

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2023-01-03 17:01:45 • 2 minute read

Meeting with Prospective Clients If you’ve ever been to a large sporting event and a spontaneous chant or wave erupted and took hold throughout a stadium filled with thousands of people, it’s essentially a social form of phase transition where the energy in the building evolved into an organic harmonic pattern. After a concert or theatrical show, the crowd bursts into an applause where the clapping is in sync and transitions to a standing ovation – nobody told them to do it. It’s said that two metronomes will synch up within 30 minutes. It’s said that the hearts of two people in close proximity and with affection for each other will start beating together.

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2022-12-27 18:42:04 • 2 minute read

A best practice that can take more time to produce, but strongly reflects and supports your branding strategy, is content marketing. When you create and promote your content, and make it the call to action, you ask the world to ask for your thought leadership IP, rather than asking for appointments or new business. You are attracting with permission marketing, rather than chasing with sales techniques.

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