By Tony Batman, chairman and CEO, 1st Global
In my article last month, I stated that the road to wealth management differs for every financial services practice based on its clients, its opportunity and its own definition of success. However, there is an underlying pattern of philosophical, professional and personal traits that are essential for every firm’s success.
At 1st Global, we have identified these essentials as our “Hierarchy of Imperatives For Success.” These five imperatives are: beliefs, education, client relationships, systems and leadership. Let’s examine each more closely.
1. Beliefs drive actions
We are what we believe, and our beliefs drive our actions. Success begins with a basic philosophy−identifying what you value in your personal life and transferring those values to your professional life. To succeed as a wealth management professional, you must place high value on improving and safeguarding your clients’ lives. If you focus solely on your firm, or on yourself, your actions may be shortsighted, and you may overlook, postpone or reject crucial elements for success. Additionally, it is easy to focus on and ask yourself negative questions:
- Do I really want to commit to more work?
- Do I need to make more money?
- Do I want to make changes−the structure of my staff, my business plan, and my daily activities?
- Do I want to invest more money into my business?
In contrast, successful professionals are focused on their clients. When your business is built on a fundamental desire to serve your clients and render them life-enriching services, your commitment to change is strong. What’s more, your focus and the questions you ask are positive:
- How can I apply my expertise to improve my clients’ lives?
- What do I need to do to expand my expertise?
- How do I communicate my value to my clients?
- If I succeed, what changes will occur in my business?
- What steps do I need to take to accommodate more clients and more services?
As a wealth management professional, you must believe that your highest and best use of your professional knowledge and services is to improve and safeguard your clients’ lives. Without that belief at the core of your wealth management practice, you will not succeed.
2. Education is essential
In order to be a professional wealth manager, you must be truly comprehensive in the scope of your advice, your planning, and your crafting of financial solutions. When you adopt a client-centered belief system and commit to provide wealth management services, you are committing to a course of action.
To begin to help your clients, you have to define how you can help. The clear first step is to expand and sharpen your professional knowledge across a wide spectrum of financial services. You need to be fluent in every area of wealth management that can impact your clients’ lives−what we at 1st Global call the Method 10™. In the Method 10™, you identify the 10 key wealth management issues that you systematically address with clients in order to implement comprehensive financial solutions. The Method 10™ is a framework within which you discover, diagnose and recommend action plans for your clients. To aspire to wealth management, personal and professional education is essential.
1st Global specializes in educating our affiliated advisors. Through 1st Global’s Wealth Management Academy®, we constantly strive to expand our programs. As we identify new ways to help clients, we educate ourselves, consult with our advisors and develop new education programs.
3. Relationships need nurturing
In order to grow as a wealth manager, you must nurture your most prized assets: your client relationships. Trust is a by-product of developing deep and lasting personal and professional relationships with your clients. You can only offer trusted advice when it is based on a penetrating understanding of your clients’ financial makeup: their goals, their needs and their resources.
To organize your practice and set a course for growth in wealth management, you need to proactively identify your core clients and engage them in wealth management dialogue. That dialogue serves as the basis for your ongoing professional relationship. Your task is to uncover your clients’ needs and present your value proposition as a trusted advisor. As a wealth manager, you strive to achieve a positive outcome for your clients−that they safeguard their financial futures by implementing customized solutions through you.
4. Systems set the pace
As a wealth manager, your entire practice changes as you grow by adding and activating clients and leading them though a variety of Method 10™planning steps and solutions. To facilitate client engagements and provide consistent professional services, your firm needs to adopt systems to standardize your business practices and add capacity: a client meeting system, a marketing system and a staffing system.
- A client meeting system allows you to prepare your staff properly for meetings and makes the client experience professional and predictable. Clients want and need to know that they can count on you to conduct wealth management dialogue through a cycle of focused meetings: from discovery to implementation to review to solution/implementation. Each meeting puts the client’s total wealth management in perspective, and then zooms in on areas of specific concern, one Method 10™ element at a time.
- A marketing system delivers a steady stream of client appointments by creating top-of-mind awareness with your clients of the wealth management solutions that your firm offers. This is vital since the most accurate indicator of success in wealth management is the number of quality financial service appointments you conduct. Proactive marketing systems should effectively tell the wealth management “story,” with each Method 10™ element as an individual chapter.
- A staffing system identifies and defines specific roles and responsibilities for each member of your financial services team. A carefully woven staffing system enables you to empower your staff to help communicate effectively and deliver focused client solutions and services. A staffing system begins by identifying what clients demand, defining specific roles and responsibilities to meet these demands, then assigns these roles to highly competent professional staff members.
5. Leadership charts the course
Leadership is what truly marks great wealth management firms, in fact, all great organizations. Leadership is more than a title or job description, however. It requires:
- Formulating a clear vision of where your firm can and should go
- Communicating that collective vision so that it resonates and benefits every team player
- Setting realistic, achievable goals with periodic guideposts to track progress
- Adopting standards of measurement to create accountability
- Leading change
- Creating a common culture that fosters cooperation, promotes partner buy-in and shares a definition of success
There is no element more critical to the success of your firm than skilled and effective leadership. A good leader can give your firm the wisdom of perspective. It is often difficult for wealth management firms to gauge their progress, as well as their opportunity for future growth. Leaders benefit from broader knowledge of the industry. A good leader also defines success for your firm.
Success for your firm may lie in one or more of the following:
- Enhancing the client value proposition by expanding Method 10™ services
- Achieving professional growth and fulfillment by augmenting your professional expertise
- Building your firm’s reputation by being more for your clients
- Improving your staff’s personal lifestyles by adding income or reducing hours
- Increasing the enterprise value of your firm
- Creating a wealth management firm that is attractive to junior partners/outside entities as part of your retirement/exit strategy
- Energizing a business that generates high EBITDA
A meaningful definition of success will garner support from every partner in your firm. It will also serve as the motivation to make the changes necessary to create and maintain a thriving, growing, profitable, and a premier wealth management firm.
This article and its content have been provided by 1st Global. With more than 450 firms affiliated with 1st Global, it is one of the largest wealth management services partners for the tax, accounting and legal professions. 1st Global delivers the required capabilities essential for wealth management excellence including progressive ongoing education, which places the firm in a unique position to offer wealth management knowledge.
1st Global was founded by CPAs on the belief that accounting, tax and estate planning firms are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive wealth management services to their clients. Each affiliated firm is provided with education, technology, business-building framework and client solutions that make these firms leaders in their professions through dedicated professional client relationships built around wealth management.
1st Global Capital Corp. is a member of FINRA and SIPC and is headquartered at 8150 N. Central Expressway, Suite 500 in Dallas, Texas 75206 (214) 265-1201. Additional information about 1st Global is available via the Internet at www.1stGlobal.com.