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2018-10-09 16:39:51 • 3 minute read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

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2018-10-05 14:08:05 • 5 min audio

Taking your process from vapor to paper is Duncan’s topic in this episode of From the Field shot on beautiful Okanagan Lake. Sending high quality greeting cards, especially for Thanksgiving Day, can help professionalize the client experience while reinforcing your personal branding.

Our friends at Lavish Cards produce the highest quality cards that will allow you to own the mantle and leave a positive, lasting impression with your clients. Visit their website to learn more: www.lavishcards.com

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2018-10-02 16:36:47 • 5 minute read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

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2018-09-25 07:16:25 • 2 minute read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

Take Action:

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

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

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

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2018-08-28 19:08:14 • 5 minute read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistaking Motion for Action 

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

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

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

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

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

Systems Create Success 

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Success!

Contributed by Duncan MacPherson

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2018-05-22 13:11:02 • 3 minute read

Take client gifting, and your business, to the next level with www.KeyEraGifts.com. Read more: www.linkedin.com/pulse/clients-key-your-success-duncan-macpherson-

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2018-03-23 00:00:00 • 20 sec

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

Learn how to define yourself through our Total Client Engagement Process:
https://www.paretosystems.com/total-client-engagement.html

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2018-01-16 00:00:00 • 20 second read

How do you welcome newclients? How do you say thank you for client referrals? How do you respond toclient service issues? Do you recognize milestones? As a business owner,branding is everything to your business, and everything you do is part of yourbranding. Everything you do matters.Scrutinize the entire client experience, and make a list of how you willrespond

to moments of truth. Thisis the first step in creating velocity, building confidence and ensuring thatyou are continually refining and optimizing your systems and procedures.Everything has to be rooted in process and habits.

 

Excerpt from The AdvisorPlaybook

 

Visit www.paretosystems.comfor more daily insights.

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2017-12-07 00:00:00 • 2 minute read
If the prospective client starts talking about short term performance or specific stocks or sectors, the advisor steps in and says, “It’s important for you to know my philosophy. Some advisors fixate on products, pricing and performance – that’s not me. I believe the markets are like the seasons. When things are rocking along, we are in the autumn harvest. Now how often does winter follow autumn? Approximately, how often? Every time. When markets are rising, I think winter. When markets are volatile and dropping, I think spring. The most successful investors in the world, whose results are enduring, share this same philosophy. If you are thinking short term, I’m probably not the advisor for you.” Excerpt from The Advisor Playbook https://www.paretosystems.com/the-advisor-playbook.html
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2017-12-05 00:00:00 • 2 minute read
How do your clients describe you? Most professional advisors say they have no idea. Here is a vital piece of actionable advice: Make your clients the voice you listen to. I’ll say it again and again throughout this book: Listen to your clients. They are on the receiving end of your value and your service. Who better to articulate that value to somebody else? Excerpt from The Advisor Playbook https://www.paretosystems.com/the-advisor-playbook.html
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2017-12-04 00:00:00 • 2 minute read
Excerpt from The Advisor Playbook https://www.paretosystems.com/the-advisor-playbook.html
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2017-12-01 00:00:00 • 2 minute read
Quality introductions are by design, not by chance. Don’t leave your rainmakers to their own devices trying to figure out who to introduce to you; tell them. In fact, many of our clients go so far as to show them. When they are in an engaged conversation with someone on the topic of who is a good fit, as an extension of their value proposition, they show a list of the qualities of their ideal clients. Excerpt from The Advisor Playbook https://www.paretosystems.com/the-advisor-playbook.html
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