Posts Tagged ‘Brand Awareness’
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
by Bob Simpson, Synchronicity Performance Consulting
The following is a white paper I wrote recently that includes ideas to help firms to improve both advisor and firm performance. The ideas are based on “out-of-box” thinking to help generate changes that are vital to the long-term success of financial services firms:
The financial services industry is a relatively new industry and as such, it is an industry of constant change and improvement. Advisors, by nature, are not a patient group and would like to see the rate of change accelerated.
This white paper is written to inspire change and improve the culture of firms. I have considered the risks involved and am comfortable that the initiatives below can help firms to not only change but also prosper from these changes.
Firms, that have the ability to change quickly, can gain a competitive advantage over the competition. Cultural changes improve advisor happiness, which will result in advisors being more productive, more effective at managing client relationships and better at sales.
By creating a positive environment, you create an atmosphere in which everybody in the organization can thrive. Do you want to double the number of advisors in your firm? Get your advisors telling your story to other advisors. Get your branch managers so enthused about the firm and their ability to build something unique and fun in their community that they are inspired to tell the firm’s story to other advisors, community leaders and other centers of influence.
Inspire your advisors to start building their businesses again. Most firms are heavy in mature advisors who have found a comfort zone and stopped growing. This has huge implications on asset and revenue growth and shareholder value. Mature businesses have developed strong client, business and personal networks that fuel growth. As an advisor’s business grows, the rate of growth should increase, not decrease.
Happy advisors drive brand awareness. Develop strong brand loyalty within your advisor community and you can leverage your marketing dollars. A national or regional network of advisors will spend well in excess of your corporate marketing budget.
Here are some ideas to create a positive environment in your firm:
Let’s start with senior management. The role of senior management is to develop and manage a vision, advisor loyalty plan and develop a positive environment. Firms must consistently keep all employees updated on progress of all initiatives and demonstrate the ability to keep promises. Advisors must be completely engaged in the vision.
This can be achieved by having an individual or team responsible for the corporation’s Advisor Experience. This can be achieved by repositioning a national management team. National or Regional Managers need to be more involved in helping advisors to achieve improved performance, rather than focused almost entirely on competitive recruiting and revenue. They need to have personal relationships with all people, including managers, advisors and administrative staff in branches in their regions. By focusing on improving the processes, revenue will take care of itself.
Advisor Experience, regional or national managers need to focus on all aspects of national, regional, branch and advisor performance. They understand the current status of all advisors’ businesses, plans and target dates and team development plans. They are responsible for managing or collaborating with other national management team members and insuring that lines of communication are clear, improvement is constant and promises are kept.
Management currently views advisors as highly independent and entrepreneurial and difficult to channel. This leads advisors to seek solutions from sources outside the firm to improve their businesses. This leads to a high degree of inefficiency.
Similarly, advisors are all over the map when managing investments. This approach has a negative impact on investment returns, which impacts client retention and achieving greater share of wallet.
By establishing a culture of collaboration, advisors can both improve practice and investment performance. This can be achieved by establishing quarterly meetings that are delivered across a branch network or through technology. Each meeting focuses on investment for half a day and practice management for half a day.
The purpose of the investment meetings is to discuss investment and portfolio strategies, investment manager selection and related issues. Advisors should be able to leave these meetings with client meeting packages to help them improve the quality and efficiency of client presentations and leverage their time.
This allows an Advisor Experience Manager to manage his advisor relationships in an efficient manner and free time to fulfill other responsibilities, such as recruiting and proactive management of his territory. It also creates uniqueness and differentiation to improve recruiting performance.
This collaborative approach also lends itself to improved client acquisition. Advisors, as a group, are not effective at business development. They are not skilled at marketing, such as development of marketing messages, marketing material and websites. They are starting to play around with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Similarly, it will help in developing new advisors and improving probability of success by providing them with turnkey solutions instead of allowing them to develop their own solutions. New advisor development is important to the success of organizations heavy in mature advisors.
Industry studies have shown that advisors who spend in excess of 60% of their time in client-facing activity earn three to five times the income of those who do not. Time spent on business development is part of the 60% but time spent on development of websites, etc. is a poor use of time, especially when the quality of the output is considered. This becomes an even bigger problem when the collective result is measured in website rankings. Few advisors achieve good search engine rankings so their websites have few viewers.
If you look at websites developed by the major firms, it is often difficult to find advisors on those sites. Other than having some brand exposure on the Internet, there is little value.
By building a corporate website that allows potential clients to find and research advisors, you can improve the client acquisition capabilities of these websites. By allowing advisors to participate by contributing articles as blogs, you not only provide the advisor with excellent exposure but you develop content that improves the ranking of the site and improved traffic.
Marketing and compliance can more easily monitor contributors and content and insure that positioning is in line with corporate initiatives. Quarterly meetings, mentioned above can be a driver for development of content.
This initiative alone can significantly redirect advisor resources, such as time and money, into more productive initiatives.
Another major complaint I hear from advisors is the difficulty to have marketing material approved by compliance. The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of advisors may utilized a centralized marketing platform but 20% will be outliers and want to do their own. Success of the above initiatives will reduce the volume of work to be processed by compliance. Compliance needs to be less confrontational and more supportive to improve the culture of an organization and reduced volume may allow them to improve.
To develop a more standardized platform, such as CRM, that will gain advisor acceptance, firms need to work closely with advisors to identify solutions that produce the best results. There are a broad range of products and services available which are simply pieces to the puzzle. Efforts need to be made to integrate solutions that currently exist rather than creating proprietary systems. Cloud solutions are growing in numbers and make this task much simpler to accomplish.
I have been studying advisors for the past fourteen years and the above is based on this research and experience. These ideas provide a platform on which additional initiatives may be based.
Bob Simpson is President of Synchronicity Performance Consultants of Mississauga, Ontario. He has provided coaching and consulting services to advisors since 1998. Prior to founding Synchronicity, he was Senior Vice President National Sales Development at Midland Walwyn Capital Inc. and a top producer at Nesbitt Thomson, where he was a top 12 advisor with a book of $120 million in client assets.
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About Bob Simpson
Synchronicity Performance Consulting has been coaching financial advisors since 1998.
Bob Simpson, president and founder of Synchronicity has been involved, directly or indirectly in the financial services industry since 1981. He has been a very successful financial advisor with Nesbitt Thomson Inc., a major Canadian financial institution. Between 1981 and 1989, he built a business with more than $120 million in assets under management, was branch manager and SVP National Sales for Midland Walwyn and has been coaching financial advisors since 1998.
Tags: Branch Managers, Brand Awareness, Brand Loyalty, Centers Of Influence, Client Business, Client Relationships, Comfort Zone, Community Leaders, Competitive Advantage, Financial Services Firms, Financial Services Industry, Firm Performance, Fuel Growth, Happiness, Mature Businesses, Patient Group, Personal Networks, Shareholder Value, Telling Your Story, Term Success
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