7 Key Factors To Build A Winning Financial Advisor Team

New PMB - 7 Key Factors To Build A Winning Financial Advisor Team

This past month, our content director Kristina chatted with Andrew Hodge, Team Coordinator for Custom Wealth Management in Syracuse, NY.

The topics ranged a bit, but more focus came in when discussing the importance of a well-oiled, fully-meshed financial advisor team.Check out the interview below for what Andy believes to be the 7 Key Factors To Build a Winning Financial Advisor Team.

Kristina: Andy, great to catch up with you.
Andrew: You, too.

K: I heard that you had a big anniversary last month?
A: Yeah, I did. It was my 6th anniversary with Custom Wealth Management.

K: Lots of cake?
A: (laughs) You know it.

K: Not to sound all poetic, but anniversaries are definitely times when we reflect on the past & look to the future. What was it like when you first joined?
A: When I joined the team, it was John and two supporting team members, me being one of the two.

K: Have things changed?
A: Quite a bit. We have since grown into a team of seven, including John. From my very first day, I got a sense that John was unique compared to other advisors in the industry.

K: That’s big growth. Since you’ve been around since the beginning of that growth, what would you say is the biggest key to success in a team environment that rapidly expands like that?
A: I think there are several aspects involved, to be honest. People come and go, but there are definitely some proven methods I saw enabled that help us weed out who weren’t a good fit and to determine who was.

K: What’s the first one?
A: You need a process for both acquiring and holding onto clients. The sooner an advisor learns this, the better. When everyone at the firm is on the same page, everyone has the same expectations and the same goals, no doubts about any of it. That builds team cohesion immediately.  John showed me the firm’s 5 phase process on my first day and was told to become familiar with it as soon as possible.

K: That’s an intense intro.
A: It was & I think it was necessary. He provided me a full view of the process from start (prospecting) to finish (ongoing review), that clearly illustrated the different goals of each phase.

K: What were they?
A: He said no matter who the prospect was that they would start at phase 1, and if they were a good fit would move on to phase 2, and so on, eventually settling into phase 5. By breaking the process into phases, a new hire could easily identify where a specific client was in the relationship, and what the next meeting with the client would look like.

K: Super structured and what we expect from John!
A: For sure. Over the years, it made things a lot easier for us where I’ve experienced bumps in the road before.

K: So, a process. Makes sense. I know being organized is imperative, but even I get overwhelmed reviewing all the documents advisors and their support need on a daily basis. How do you keep it in check?
A: (laughs) Though he may never have a clean desk,, the way John organizes the firm’s files on the computer makes it easy for a new hire or anybody on the team to prepare the items necessary for an upcoming meeting.

K: Organized chaos?
A: Not even. It’s really well structured. Each phase had its own folder, within the folder there is a checklist for the items the advisor will need for the meeting, and below the checklist are all the documents in order of how they appeared on the checklist. What did this do for the team? It made it possible for all team members to put together the files for client meetings with minimal effort and time. What did this do for the advisor?

K: So essentially it gives the advisor one less thing to worry about.
A: Exactly. If the team followed the checklist, the advisor could ensure that everything that needed to be in the file was there and in the exact order that they wanted it. The efficiency of being able to put together meeting files quickly also allows the advisor to schedule meetings on shorter notice.

K: I’d imagine trust would also be a big component.
A: A team is nothing without it, especially in a small one. An advisor that trusts the team builds individual confidence for team members, confidence in other team members, and confidence in the firm’s future.

K: No wasting time in delegating.
A: Right, not between team members or between them and the advisor. Everyone knows their “post”, so to speak. Everyone knows their duty and what will be expected. And when an advisor can trust their team, they can spend more time out of the office doing what needs to be done.

K: Dynamic is so important, especially when not everyone does the same thing every day.
A: Huge. Most wealth management firms are small, so the addition of a new team member can have a huge impact on team dynamic.

K: Any specific examples come to mind?
A: Yes. We learned the hard way that when adding a new team member, each current team member should be able to voice their opinion about a potential candidate.

K: More open dialogue then followed, I presume.
A: Certainly did. And on the note of dialogue, language is an incredibly important factor as well. John is a strong believer that “the only things that stand between a person and success are words, and how you use them”.

K:  Excellent advice, really.
A: An encounter I’ll never forget was the first time someone asked my advisor about their ‘staff’. John was quick to correct them saying “Staff is an infection; do you mean my team?”.

K: Wow! That is bold and humorous at the same time.
A: That’s John. The difference in psychology between the two words should be clear. If you had to choose, would you prefer to be part of a team or part of a staff?

K: Fairly sure I’ll always think of team moving forward, since the idea of “staff” makes me think of germs and a lot of pain (laughs).
A: Then it had the intended effect! At our firm, we work, learn, teach, grow, make mistakes, and succeed as a team.

K: Anything else you can think of?
A: Freedom to grow is a huge factor in developing a team, too.

K: In what way specifically?
A: At our firm, each team member has a specific area that their role and responsibilities revolve around. If a team member finds themselves caught up on their workload, our advisor gives us the freedom to spend our time finding ways to increase efficiency within our own roles, or spend the time learning about other areas of the firm.

K: So it strengthens the team’s overall knowledge of the industry and allows each team member to service clients in different areas when the ‘specialist’ is not available.
A: Precisely. We’re adults, not children and no one likes to be micro-managed. The freedom to grow also plays back to the trust factor. It illustrates trust between everyone.

K: You haven’t mentioned it yet, and I’m wondering if it’s because so much of your job entails these…
A: Meetings?

K: Yep!
A: Kind of, but the key factor is not so much the frequency of the meeting, but just to schedule them and then stick to them, religiously. The “Monday morning meeting” is a standard expectation for a reason.

K: What goes on in yours?
A: We cover three things: John’s upcoming schedule, the team’s upcoming schedule, and any tasks that need to be completed. This meeting ensures everyone has a clear understanding of what is currently happening and what is coming up. On top of the Monday meetings, the advisor tries to spend an hour one on one with each team member every month to check in on their achievements and goals both inside and outside of work, as well as any frustrations that they might be dealing with.

K: So, just a quick review…you’d say there are seven factors to developing a solid team in a financial advisor firm?
A: Yes, and I think they’re all intricately intertwined. None of them can reach full potential without dependency on another factor. And from my experience in the last 6 years, it all starts with the process. Everything else starts to fall into place after that.
K: And the meetings (chuckles).
A: Of course (laughs).

K: Was great chatting with you, Andy.
A: You as well, Kris.

The Financial Advisor’s Guide To SEO

New PMB - The Financial Advisor's Guide To SEO

Financial Advisors + Website = Need For Great SEO

You’ve taken your practice online & have hired a team to build you a website that reflects you and your business. Congratulations!

But you’ve heard whispers…

Whispers of a thing that is three letters and sounds really techy and you have no idea what it has to do with website building.

“S-E-O”.

Okay. Perhaps you’re not totally new to the term, but if you are, that is okay too! If you’ve recently built a website (or want to re-vamp your existing one), your #1 concern is probably

“I WANT TO APPEAR ON GOOGLE”.

Fair goal.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the name web marketers, web developers and content writers use to explain the science behind how a website appears in search engine results. If you “want to appear on Google” (or any search engine), SEO is the technique of how to do it, and trust us, you`ll want to know how to.

Why Not Just Hire Someone For SEO?

Yeah. You could. But our in-house digital marketing manager Kristina warns that there are a lot of sharks out there who prey on the fact most people have no idea what SEO is, never mind how it works or what to do. SEO consultants can cost THOUSANDS of dollars a month. If they have a portfolio of proven results and a list of references, then it’s generally a safe bet. But even then it might not be that cut-n-dry. With that in mind, we’ve prepared this Financial Advisor’s Guide To SEO. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire someone else, make sure you are versed in the very basics so you know what’s going on in this part of your business!

Why Not Just Use PPC (Pay Per Click?)

Again, you could, but there are two different ways to appear in search engine rankings….and one is “technically” free. One is PPC (paid ads that trigger with keywords) and the other is “organic” results. Organic results are those that appear that are unpaid and appear on the page without the word “ad” next to it. The most coveted spot is the 1st one on the 1st page. Sure, you could pay to be there but if there was another way in addition, wouldn’t you take it?

How Does Google Know What Website To Put At The Top Of Search Results?

Search engine results rely on something called “page authority” to determine what websites should be listed at the top of search results. Page authority requires a few different things, but the main take-away is that it is found in the page content – the copy and some other code/image related things. Google has bots that crawl webpages every single day – MILLIONS! These bots use an algorithm that determines a page’s authority signals and creates a ranking from them. Rankings can and do fluctuate all the time.

content-is-king

What Kind Of Content?

Useful, educational, entertaining and thoughtfully written content that is geared for your niche! Make it easy enough to read and share and link to it, too. Content that is original! Make each page of your website for your clients, not for the search engines.

How Do You Gear Content?

By using “keywords”. Keywords are exactly the words you would type into the Google search bar when looking up something. In this industries case, the most obvious would be “financial advisor”. When it comes to search, there’s always an intent (to find, buy, fix, understand or learn). In the financial advisor client’s case, it’s usually to find (with a combo of “to buy”).

But, there are two kinds of keywords; short and long tail keywords. Short-tail is like the example above. Long tail keywords are full sentences or questions. Eg: “I need a financial advisor”Google has put a strong emphasis on local business relevancy in the last few years, so often, long tail keyword searches include the city or town the business is in. Eg: “I need a financial advisor in Rochester, NY” (ahem…).

It Takes Research

Once you realize that SEO is (and should be) just as much a part of your marketing efforts as traditional advertising, you’ll understand why it’s so important to do right the first time. Apply old-school marketing research to the digital world. It’s still the same, the tools are just different. You still need to research your market. You still need to create a client persona. You still need to come up with a brand and lingo that matches your message. You just need to make it Google-friendly. Your goal is to create a website that is exactly what your potential clients need and want.

It’s also really important to research your competition for multiple reasons. Firstly, to see what they’re doing and gauge if it is successful or not (there are tools for this). Secondly, to determine what they’re not doing that you can do. Thirdly, to make sure you don’t accidentally copy their content. And lastly, to learn from their mistakes.

Can I Do SEO Myself?

You could, if you have the willingness to learn and the time available to learn it. Though SEO is really complex, you still can learn the basics. There are a ton of amazing resources for free online (we will link to some of the best at the end). But, be honest. You’re an advisor with a tight schedule. Chances are you’ll need to hire a firm or a SEO pro to do it for you.

SEO Blocks

How Do I Find The Right Keywords?

This is huge. This stage of your SEO journey is one, if not the, most important part. After all, these words are how you will be found online. You want the right kind of visitors, the relevant ones to what you’re offering. The brilliance of online marketing is that this is an incredibly easy way to find out what your clients want in terms of market research. You (or your SEO pro) will use keyword research tools to find the kinds of words users type into a search bar the most often. When creating your “keyword list” (it’s recommended you have at least 5-10 you want to rank for), go through the following process. You will be asked these things from anyone who does your SEO.

  • How will your clients find you?
  • Where are you located?
  • Do you have additional services in addition to your financial advisory practice?
  • What exactly do I offer? (this matters for long tail – which is 70% of world search!)

Why Does Quality Matter So Much?

Recall when we mentioned page authority and certain signals? The quality of your content relies on three signal criteria; engagement metrics (search engines can observe how users engage with search results; if they click and click back immediately, or if they click and stay), machine learning (Google’s algorithm for determining quality) and linking patterns (better quality sites have better quality links – note quality, NOT quantity).

Ranking well will also lower your pay-per-click spend (if you’re buying ads on Google or Bing)!

Search Intent

When crafting your keyword list and your content, it’s important to also know that there are three different kinds of searches.

Transactional searches, though they sound like they have to do with money (and sometimes they do) relate to any search that will result in an exchange of information, whether that’s signing up for an email list or actually buying something online.

Informational searches are non-commercial and the end goal is education.

Navigational searches are when the user uses the search engine as a digital Yellow Pages. They might have the website in mind, but can’t remember the exact URL.

When it comes to your website, your clients and potential clients will usually be in transactional search mode, though don’t be quick to write off the other two either. Leads may be navigational.

Google ipad

Okay, So Break Down SEO Guidelines For Us Advisors

No problem. This is straight from the King of Search Engines; Google. Firstly, as previously mentioned, create your website with your clients in mind. Write the content trying to please them first. No one knows your clients better than you, so it really should be you (or, you guiding a professional writer) to create your page content.

  • Write clear and educational content by using the keywords you have determined fit your niche and use those keywords to create relevant URL’s. The more specific you are with your words, the better chance you have at ranking high because of less competition. However, a bit of a warning: “financial advisor” is one of the most searched terms on Google, so the importance is to get specific (this is where local long tail will help enormously!).
  • A note on keywords; don’t “stuff” them into your content. You don’t want your content to appear unnatural  by shoving “financial advisor” in every 7 words. The general rule of thumb is to have a keyword once every paragraph. That’s it.
  • Keep your headings in your content with your keyword somewhere in there.
  • Publish your content on social media channels. Social signals are a quality signal to Google and other engines. Since you have a physical location for your business, it’s imperative to get a Google Business page since it will help verify your business as legitimate to Google, put you in Google Maps and help your rankings.
  • You’ll want to have a 404 (an error/not found page) made.
  • You’ll need to have a clear hierarchy to your website’s navigation (all pages should link to something else with ease).

Warnings For Hiring SEO Pros

Run for the hills if your SEO guy/gal promises any of the following:

  • Link schemes or any other “black hat” procedures (white hat tactics are totally above board while black hat can get your website shut down and removed from engines).
  • Their tactics involve putting you in directories online…and that’s really it. It’s nice to have your website be listed on these sites, sure, but there’s way more to SEO than having a website on a list somewhere.
  • They promise you the #1 spot on page 1. Your rank will ebb and flow. This is natural. While you might want the #1 spot, if they promise this to you out of the gate, and worse they promise it to you within a certain time frame, run. No one can know exactly when you’ll rank.

Tools!

As promised, here is our list of the best tools and blogs to follow if you want to become your own in-house SEO expert!

Tools

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

SpyFU

MOZ

SearchMan

SEO Profiler

Seed Keywords Engine

Google Trends

Freshkey Research Tool

WebpageFX

SEO Webpage Analyzer

Screaming Frog SEO 

Open Link Profiler

Keyword Tool

Can I Rank

Lists Of More Tools

Small SEO Tools (AMAZING)

Top Visor

Who To Follow

Brian Dean: Backlinko

Neil Patel: QuickSprout

Matt Cutts: Google’s Main Guy

Danny Sullivan: SearchEngineland.com

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Objection Handling – What Financial Advisors MUST Do

New PMB - Objection Handling - What Financial Advisors MUST Do

[Want our tried-and-true Telephone Approach & Objections Handling Guide for FREE? Click here…]

“I already have an advisor”.

There’s that all-too-familiar feeling again. That slight punch in the gut mixed with the unintentional face tension. It’s probably not the first nor the last time you will ever hear an objection like this. Objection handling, just like number crunching, is a fundamental part of our career as financial advisors.

…or is it?

ThinkAdvisor.com had a great article a few years ago that said, “if we do get an objection, I feel like I haven’t done a good job”. The focus around this statement was solely that the system in place should be one that the client experience is simply SO GOOD that there can’t be any objections.

And we’re all about teaching you how to provide that white-glove client experience. Handling objections with grace and ease falls right into our purview. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 
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Transition To A Fee-Based Or Fee-Only Practice

New PMB - Transition To A Fee-Based Or Fee-Only Practice

It’s often a big decision and not always an easy one when an advisor decides to transition to a fee-based or fee-only practice.

We wanted to share a few articles, ideas and our thoughts about making the transition to fees. It’s our opinion that a fee-based model works best. We believe advisors should charge fees for creating a plan, for their knowledge and time…we also utilize wrap accounts for clients investments.

At the same time, the advisor that creates the financial plan is best suited to help the clients shop for the right products needed to implement the final plan.Read More

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Fostering Happiness

New PMB - Fostering Happiness

Earlier this week, I met with a client that has done a phenomenal job of living below their means. They spend less than half of what they earn on lifestyle, the rest is saved. Now in their early fifties they could retire at any time and live comfortably the rest of their lives.

They live in a very ordinary suburban house, drive very ordinary vehicles but over the last several years the family has been investing in some very amazing family experiences. They have traveled, as a family, all over the US and many places in Europe. Regardless of where they are or what they are doing they are constantly looking for the unique and memorable things to do and definitely they are taking photographs to capture the moment.Read More

How To Attract Prospects With Your Blog

New PMB - How To Attract Prospects With Your Blog

Prospects, Prospects…

You have an awesome website to attract prospects and build client relationships. You’ve developed an incredible anti-marketing system that works.

Now, you want a blog to really fine-tune the educational aspect of your business.

Getting a blog started is no short task. It is an entire website of it’s own (even if it is nestled in your domain – as it should be). You have to consider making a content calendar (to keep on top of relevant topics and stay relevant for SEO purposes!) and then of course, there’s the actual writing and optimizing of your blog posts themselves.

Whether or not you’ll be writing all the posts, your team will, or a combination of them, there are 5 major subjects you should cover regularly to attract prospects to your business. Show them you “know your stuff” before they even actually speak to you.

Value opportunities are everywhere with the use of a blog!

Planning Processes

This should be a huge “duh” to everyone. Every advisor appreciates the value of an amazing planning process, but clients will see the value of it as well if they understand what they can expect with you before they walk through your door.
While advisors will enjoy a step-by-step explanation of how to overcome client objections or how to prepare a year-end portfolio, prospects will appreciate a step-by-step explanation of how you’re exactly going to reach their goals; what methods you’ll employ, how you will report on it, how you will educate them, etc. Giving prospects a peak through the window will help break down any barriers before you have your first conversation with them!

Politics and Industry

We’re not suggesting to start sharing your personal political opinion on your company blog, but rather to report or share your professional perspective on industry changes that are affected by government policy. Is there a major bill coming up that could somehow affect your affluent clients? Write about it. Did the tax brackets just radically change? Write about it and the implications. Are there new tax breaks? You get the point.
There is a wealth of content available if you keep your eyes on the news. The best part is that by doing so, you will never be hard-pressed to find a topic to write about. Make sure your content plan is flexible to add in time-sensitive pieces (or just add it as a bonus).

Finances

Like planning process, this is another huge “duh”. And, like with politics and industry, there’s always something news-worthy to write about when it comes to money. You already know what your niche is interested in – find those financial topics and saturate your blog with them. Write about investing, wealth legacy, risk management, estate planning…the list goes on.

Legacy (Family)

The saying is that money is cold, but we all know the reason people turn to financial investors is often to protect their legacy – their family. They want to set them up for the future, to put money aside for their children’s college funds, or help their parents during retirement. Writing about the warmer side of finances will give prospects an idea of what your business ethics are like and what you (and your team) are like as people (with families and values of their own).

This might seem like a cheesy sales tactic, but it isn’t. It works because we all want to connect with people with similar goals. Having a financial advisor who clearly cares about what is also most important to them will help break down barriers and build a sense of familiarity before they ever sign anything.

Lifestyle

It takes money to travel, to shop, to do most (if not all) hobbies one might have. Chances are your niche might have a common thread of hobbies that they share that you can write about regularly. This almost ties in with legacy-family, but the umbrella is wide. If your niche loves European travel, you can write about the best places to go in Europe on a dime (or conversely, the most lavish places to go).

Bonus Tips!

  • Research your niche to find which days they’re most active on social media. Once you’ve determined that, you can set a publishing schedule for your blog posts. Most popular days are Wed-Fri, but this can vary widely!
  • Download a free content calendar to plan your publishing schedule and make it your own. We happen to have one we’ve made just for financial advisors right here (a download from our Amazon server will begin automatically if you click here).Change whatever you need! We even included a few ideas to get your juices flowing!
  • Do you collect email addresses? Of course you do! If you have a potential client list saved, make sure to send your blog posts in an email “blast” (using a system like MailChimp for example) at least once a month.
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How A Two-Step On-Boarding Process Delivers More Value & Converts More Prospects (More Fees For You, Too!)

How To Convert More Prospects - CWA Network

The good ol’ on-boarding process. I see so much variation in this process and…well, let me ask you a question.

Do you know EXACTLY what to say to a prospect to make them say: “We not only need to do this, we want to do this…here’s our money for the planning fee, when can we get started?”

Even if you said, “Of course I do, John!” you might be surprised after reading this.

We all know that gone are the days of one and done meetings, grabbing signed applications and making a sale. A quick note, though: If your focus is first on AUM or generating sales, then this article probably isn’t for you.  I still see many advisors that want to get ACAT forms signed in the first or second meetings, typically prior to delivering any true value.I’m guilty of this – it’s how I started out.

But don’t get me wrong – I LOVE growing AUM and revenues (who wouldn’t) but those are not the metrics I find to be important to real growth.  I have found that finding more ways to deliver value to prospects and clients is the key performance indicator that is the most predictive of future revenue and profit.

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