Different advisors, different practice management needs.
Financial advisors don’t have one universal practice management need according a very informal poll we conducted. Instead, they have a myriad of needs where outside though specialized consultants could play a much-needed role. Here’s a look at what advisors say they need:
John Napolitano CFP, CPA, PFS, MST of U.S. Wealth Management says his firm would benefit greatly from an implementation expert. “Most advisors have heard enough great ideas on running their practice or taking their business to the next level, so I’m convinced that we and many others know what to do,” he says. “What most can’t seem to do well is avoiding what not to do and how to get done all the tactics that will lead to a better business. Is it hiring more people? Getting better systems? Customizing your CRM? Simplifying your message? Honing in on your brand?”
According to Napolitano, there are not enough consultants out there who can go deep into the tactics that should be deployed by an advisor to reach their goals. “This tactical development plan also needs a mechanism for accountability and scale,” he says. “There are plenty of theory providers and intellectual capital developers, but not enough with the experience to guide implementation and be accountable for the results of their advice.”
From his perspective, the outside implementation expert could be a retired or semi-retired financial advisor, though an outsider to the profession might be better. “It may be nice to have a retired planner,” Napolitano says. “But I believe that it has to be one who was very successful implementing the type of advice that they are trying to get an advisor to implement. Are there enough ‘very’ successful advisors out there? Also, a professional with implementation experience in other industries may actually be helpful.”
Other firms, meanwhile, need an outside consultant to provide marketing and branding assistance. “As advisors we get busy in the day to day activities of running our business but we realize that we need to be regularly and consistently marketing our firm to clients,” said Daniel Lash, CFP, AIF of VLP Financial Advisors.
“Unfortunately, most firms do not have staff that can create, review and update a marketing plan and this is when an outside consultant can be used to leverage their time and expertise to streamline this process within our firm. Once the marketing plan is created you can then have staff help with plan implementation.”
Lash says his firm recently hired an outside consultant just to help with the firm’s website, use of social media and process to regularly communicate our services to clients and potential clients so we can build our referral base.
At the moment, Lash says the results to date cannot yet be quantified, but the process is helping the firm become more focused on “our marketing and thinking of ways to work on the business.”
According to Lash, there are plenty of marketing consultants out there, but only a few who have the expertise needed to work clients in the financial services field. “For those who do specialize in financial services there are even fewer that work with financial planning/advisory firms rather than large mutual fund or bank clientele,” he says.
For his part, Lash says retired or semi-retired advisors could serve as marketing/branding consultants, but they should “more successful than our firm to give advice on marketing.” Otherwise, he‘s not likely to hire them. “Usually successful advisors make more as advisors than as a marketing consultant but this is not always true,” Lash says.
It should not come as a big surprise, but some independent financial advisors outsource their IT needs.
“We farm out almost all of our IT stuff,” says Tim Knotts, CFP, an owner of and senior planner with The Hogan-Knotts Financial Group. “It’s too much for us anymore.”
What are your practice management needs? Are there qualified competent consultants out there who can help you and your firm with your needs? Let us know below in the comment field.