Listen & Subscribe On Your Favorite Podcast App
3 Unique Ways This Element Will Transform Your Business
How many times did a parent figure chastise you by saying “the world doesn’t revolve around you.” That was a tough thing to hear as a wanna-be grown-up teen, but its sentiments extend far beyond the days of bad skin and racing hormones to the modern work-force.
So many advisors set up their practices in a way that is best for them. And while that might make sense on the surface, it exposes a big problem underneath like a gorgeous house with a crumbling foundation.
Today, we are going to share our secrets for a successful transition from an advisor-centric practice to a client-centered one. Let’s dive in!
Let Your Mission Guide You
Think of your mission like the sun—all other aspects of your business revolve around it. This includes your client-service matrix, roles and responsibilities, and your business structure. Here at Credent Wealth, we have a little saying we always go by: mission is king.
In case you forget, we are going to repeat it a few times (you can even say it with us if you like): mission is king, mission is king, mission is king. Your mission is set up to serve the firm and your clients in the best way possible. So while many of you probably thought that a client-centric practice means that the client is king, think again.
Remember, you want to provide your clients with the ultimate experience. This doesn’t always mean that they are right. You can have two clients who live in the same neighborhood, on the same street even. Their houses have complementary colors and their square footage is identical. Our advisors know that the similarities basically stop there.
Every client has unique goals, dreams, values, attitudes, and experiences that they bring to the financial process. This means we have to create a scalable, yet also customized experience to best fit their needs. The only way to do that is to stay true to the firm’s mission.
If the client were king, then the advisor would simply say yes to everything that the client asks. That isn’t the role you signed up for and worked so hard to build. Remember, your clients hired you because you have the experience they are looking for. Sometimes that means educating them and proposing alternative solutions to a request they present.
This is where advisors can use authentic leadership to guide clients in the right direction. Sometimes by saying no, you are helping the clients and staying true to your mission. And remember, the mission is always king.
Let’s look at a quick example. If a client comes to you and says that they want to pay off their mortgage and to take $200,000 from their IRA to complete it, the advisor has to engage in a conversation with the client about why that isn’t the best move for their financial situation. Remember, you are doing yourself and your clients a disservice by not being honest and using the knowledge you have to guide their financial choices.
Use Your Mission To Train Staff
Your mission statement isn’t just a document reserved for marketing collateral or impressing important clients. Your mission should be the heart and soul of your business, at least that is how it is done in a true client-centric practice. A unique way that we use our mission at Credent is through the training of our staff.
While there is no training plan that could anticipate every unique situation that might arise, arming our staff with our mission and asking them to uphold that in everything they do, provides a clear sense for the right course of action.
For us, our mission helps guide all of our decisions, even at the executive level. Our mission is the basis for all of our choices. Every new idea has to pass three phases:
- Support of the mission
- Tested against our 8 core beliefs
- Enhance our culture of passion
Just recently, our firm was considering a new line of business, and it had the potential to be profitable. But as we looked at our core business goal, serving our clients, we found it could have presented a distraction to that mission. As the executive team kicked that around, a team member said, “Well, how does this support the mission?” and everybody stopped in their tracks and killed the idea. We moved on because we know that if we focus on and propagate our mission, the firm continues to grow.
This emphasizes the importance of culture in our hiring and training process. We spend so much time on culture and mission because it is at the heart of every decision we make, every meeting we attend, every day we head into the office.
Breaking Down An Advisor-Centric Business Model
An advisor-centric business model is built around the advisor. It caters to the advisors’ needs so they can then, in turn, cater to their clients’ needs. This is sort of a vicious circle because it puts the advisor at the center of each and every interaction and decision.
Clients call the advisor for advice. They ask him or her for service and they look to the advisor for investment management or help investment selection. Clients ask the advisor for tax advice. They ask the advisors for justice on planning for college, or a new home. You name it, they do it.
Do the clients want to update their address? They probably tell the advisor or the bank information for their ACH or wired transfers. If they change their status like getting married, divorced, widowed, the advisor knows about it. I mean, everything’s around advisors. And the advisors in an advisor-centric practice, they love it, because that’s where their value and validation come from.
Let’s play a game and see if you can guess who completes each of these tasks:
- Talks with clients about distributions
- Trade instructions
- Picking the investments
You guessed right, the advisor. In advisor-centric practices, the advisor’s value is positioned as being hands-on. Having client accounts handled by a staff member or having someone else make a trade would diminish the value of the advisor, and the advisor would be out of the center of the relationship.
The thing is that these advisors do put their clients first. They put their clients before their spouses, before their kids, and often before their health. Advisor and advisor-centric practices are so pivotal to their clients and their businesses’ success that they can’t even take a break. If an advisor isn’t available all the time, client service gets dropped because, again, that client experience is the advisor. The advisor is everything, which is why it has to have an advisor-centric model.
A wise person once told me that if you’re indispensable, you’re un-promotable. And that’s the real problem with advisor-centric practices. Not only are the advisors always on the clock, they quickly hit the limits of capacity. If the value proposition is personal service by the advisor for all client needs, there is a definite cap to the number of households that can be served. So the solution we found was to restructure our team. Instead of building a practice to support us, we decided to put the clients in the center and build the team around them.
Missions Support Client-Centric Business Models
We have talked about this before, but here at Credent Wealth, we operate in a leveraged ensemble which means that everyone here has roles that specifically serve the client.
Under our model, the lead advisor is responsible for the relationship with the client and for generating referrals and new business. But they don’t pick stocks, or analyze ETF’s. Instead, we have an investment management department to do all that. The investment department supports the client’s need for investment management and security selection.
Lead advisors don’t set appointments or keep the CRM database current. The client care coordinator supports the clients by managing the calendar and the database. The advisors don’t input financial plan data or write summary letters, service advisors for paraplanners and make adjustments at the direction of the lead advisors. Lead advisors don’t update beneficiary forms or addresses or manage online statement delivery. Paraplanners are available to actually meet with clients to handle all those details. And so you really start to see where that client now has these different points of contact.
The lead advisor is still accountable for the relationship, but they don’t have to deliver all of the touchpoints, that jack of all trades, master of none approach. By allowing different individuals to specialize around you, it promotes a much better and more consistent client experience.
Let me ask you this: would you rather have one person at your beck and call who is trying to be an expert at everything? And also serving numerous others in the same way? Or would you rather work with subject matter experts for everything you need? The hard part isn’t changing the message. The hard part is actually building a team to deliver on it.
In a client-centric practice, advisors don’t have dedicated staff to handle money movement and account servicing, clients do. These are subtle changes, but if we really take a step back, they make a drastic difference.
If you are ready to start using your mission in every aspect of your business, head to our resource library, or click below, and download this week’s free resource, Who Do Your Staff Work For? This document helps with the idea of having your staff work for the client versus working for the advisor.