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Are You Practicing What You Preach?

Much has been written about the benefits a client receives when following a written financial plan, but what about the financial advisor? Does your practice have a business plan? Is it detailed enough to be implemented?

A good friend of mine is trying to take his practice in a new direction. He has a marketing program that generates a steady stream of pre-retirement prospects that he wants to hand off to an as-yet-unhired junior associate. In my friend's words, "80% of the leads can be comfortably handled by someone with entry level experience in financial planning, and with respect to the rest he/she can bring me in to consult."

The plan

I asked him how he planned to get the junior advisor up to speed, and his response was typical: "after I select them I'll have them sit in on the meetings with me for about a month and then they should be good to go." Does anyone else see the flaws in this plan?

An expensive mistake

A common mistake among advisors is assuming a simple process demonstration will enable another person to duplicate their process with the same results. If that were true, it would take about 6 months to train a surgeon instead of years. All too often the process is not duplicated exactly, results suffer, disenchantment sets in on both parties, and pretty soon revenues decrease, client dissatisfaction goes up, and the junior advisor either gets fired or quits, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of all involved.

There is a solution

Instead of expecting knowledge to be absorbed by osmosis, build a step-by-step process that can be learned, reviewed, implemented, and signed off on for each client engagement. Ron Carson of PEAK Alliance and Bill Good of Gorilla Marketing advocate the use of workflow processes. Salesforce and Gorilla, Bill Good's CRM, both have this capability.

For each step in the engagement process (or any process for that matter) there should be:

- A specific sequence of steps
- A specific list of materials to be accessed and discussed
- A script
- A way to verify completion

This is where the eyes of many of the advisors I talk to begin to glaze over. They are thinking, and some even say, "There is no way I have time to write that all up, I'll just hire smarter people." My response is always the same: if you don't have a documented, repeatable process, then it doesn't matter who you hire. The odds of success are less than 25%, which means you cannot profitably scale your business. Then I remind them that they don't have to type up the steps, all they have to do is talk about them. How we solved the same issue When I built my practice, we had a process for everything. Many ideas were learned from other successful advisors and coaches, but many were unique to us. I built them using transcription as an efficiency tool, and executed them in our CRM. I started by making a list of each step in the client acquisition process, then detailed everything that went into each step.

- Initial contact script
- Firm introduction meeting
- Discovery
- Plan presentation
- Implementation
- New client welcome process

For each step, I documented everything that I wanted to happen, right down to a script to follow and materials to hand out. Some steps had multiple tracks depending on how the prospect was discovered. I used Copytalk to dictate my thoughts so I could add content whenever I had a few minutes to think about it. For every client the appropriate action was activated, and the exact step-by-step process appeared that was to be followed. Now training was consistent as was the client experience. It was easy to review and see what step was causing issues if results changed. And it was easier (it is never easy) to scale. Most coaches I have chatted with follow some type of systemization process. The challenge is getting everything down on paper. That's where my Copytalk subscription was so helpful. I saved a tremendous amount of time by dictating my thoughts as I worked through documenting each step. The end result was a repeatable process and a practice management manual that could be referred to as a refresher or for new hire training. For more information on Copytalk visit www.copytalk.com/web.

Practicing What You Preach

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