Top Advisors And What We Can Learn From Them

Wednesday, May 05, 2010 12:17
Top Advisors And What We Can Learn From Them

One of the more enjoyable parts of my job as a practice management consultant for TD AMERITRADE Institutional is that I have a robust conference travel schedule that takes me to the industry’s leading events.

This past April, I had the good fortune to attend the Barron’s Top 100 Independent Advisor Conference where some of the biggest and best advisors were recognized for their success.  I sat in on a number of breakout and panel sessions moderated by the some of the top 100 advisors and I was struck by the similarities between the top firms. The lessons from these leading advisors can be helpful to consider as you think about improving and enhancing your practice.

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Some of my past blogs have touched on these concepts, but here are my top five takeaways from the conference:
  1. Staff – The top firms are investing in their people as a priority, but they also have a disciplined process to hire, manage and reward their staff.  Many of the top firms are using personality profiles to make sure they are hiring the right people, relying on products and services such as Myers Briggs, Profile XT and PI Worldwide.  
  1. Compensation – The top firms are creating pay for performance cultures where employees are compensated for their successes and using software such as Success Factors to manage and track performance related goals.
  1. Client Segmentation – The top firms are segmenting their client base to make sure they are delivering the ultimate client experience to their best clients, creating dedicated service and delivery models that are designed to differentiate themselves from the competition.
  1. Technology – The top firms are using technology to improve process and efficiencies across the board.  Most of the top firms that I saw or spoke to are using CRM systems, trade order management, document management and the like to drive efficiencies in their business.
  1. Client Risk Management – The top firms are doing more to define risk for their clients. Particularly, due to the recent bear market, many clients didn’t really have a true understating of their risks. Many clients are willing to accept less in returns for lower risk portfolios.  Because of this, more and more advisors are using individualized Investment Policy statements for each and every client.
These are just a few of the commonalities that I observed among these leading firms. There are many other best practices that we run across and are captured in our practice management offering at TD AMERITRADE Institutional as well as through other industry sources. 
So as you look to take your firm to the next level, reach out to firms that you admire and ask them what they are working on. Make a point to increase the number of industry conferences and events that you attend. Read the latest industry articles on practice and business management. The answers you seek are there for the finding, you just need to make it a priority to look.
George Tamer, Director, Strategic Relationships, TD AMERITRADE Institutional
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