Larry is early in his Values-Based Financial Planning™ Journey building his Ideal Client Community and he wanted my point of view about the benefits for clients or potential clients in creating their Financial Road Map®. Whether you are new to the Values-Based Financial Planning™ journey or a veteran you will appreciate my response to Larry.
First, for the clients, they LOVE the Financial Road Map®! It’s big, colorful, and visual. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words… maybe more. The Financial Road Map® takes what’s most important to them and puts it on one single piece of paper in a way that is aligned with the flow of time. Husbands and wives see their values side-by-side on the values staircases, their goals are clearly defined with target dates, specific amounts of money, and the positive reasons these goals are a priority have been expressed. Also, there is simple summary of their current financial reality.
Once equipped with a Financial Road Map®, most people feel as though they have never been better equipped to make smart choices about their money so they can achieve their goals and fulfill their values.
A visual tool, like the Financial Road Map®, is very important because most Financial Advisors are much too linear and tend to way, way… WAY over-explain financial concepts, financial products, and financial services. The Financial Road Map® makes the whole idea of having a financial plan and a relationship with a Trusted Advisor, to create and implement that plan, much easier to understand —- for the client.
When I wrote the Values-Based Financial Planning™ book I asked the practitioners of Values-Based Financial Planning™ to ask their clients to describe their experience with the Financial Road Map®, some of which were published in the book. Comments like this one from Jerry Mercer were common, “The Financial Road Map® concept is ideal for the serious investor. Being able to compare our holdings with our needs has led my wife, Ruth, and I to a financial plan that gives us peace of mind and maximum control of our funds. Our Financial Road Map® is a terrific tool for managing our future.”
The clients love the Financial Road Map® and so do Advisors who learn to facilitate the quality experience described above. What’s in it for you?
Delivering the Financial Road Map® experience gives you a process to make a strong human connection in less than an hour. During the Financial Road Map® interview your prospective clients talk for most of that hour giving you the opportunity to make an intelligent choice about whether or not you want to invite them to join your Ideal Client Community. Done properly, they learn that you really care about them as humans and that you are trustworthy.
This is very important because a huge career mistake made by most Financial Advisors is not being more discriminating about who they accept as clients in the first place. Most Financial Advisors end up, after years of working hard to build a business, with only a handful of truly Ideal Clients. We call this a dumb business. Look at the cold hard facts of life for most Financial Advisors, even before the recent economic problems: they work too many hours, for not enough money, with too much liability for the reward. This is at the root of why so many who enter the financial services business fail and most who “make it” past the first several years look a lot more like mediocrity than success.
How much more successful would you be if you were skilled at conducting an interview where, in less than an hour, people hire you to write a plan, want you to be their Advisor for all of their financial affairs, entrust you with all of their money, act on your advice, and refer you to others for the same service?
That’s the impact the Financial Road Map® is having for other Financial Advisors and it can do the same for you.
Using the Financial Road Map® and building an Ideal Client Community by referral only on the Values-Based Financial Planning™ platform will enable you to have your Ideal Life in 4 years or less. It’s the ultimate client-centered win / win and it’s how we train Financial Advisors to build an Ideal Client Community by referral only in 4 years or less.
If you have not done so already, contact us to schedule your complimentary Success Road Map interview with one of our Accountability Coaches today.
Remember, it’s a great time to be a Financial Advisor!
In 2001, CEG Worldwide founder John Bowen conducted a survey of financial professionals. His question: “Do you think you’re client-centered?” Every one of them answered yes.
No surprise there. Most advisors care about their clients and, I suspect, that’s what these advisors thought John was asking them about. But when asked to apply twelve (12) objective criteria, only 14% of the advisors’ businesses were actually all about the clients. The majority of these businesses were set up to cater to the advisor’s preferences. (FYI, the 14% who were truly focused on clients were also attracting as much as 30 times as many assets under management as investment-centered advisors and doing especially well in the downturn that began the year the survey was taken.)
The truth is there are a lot of people who think they are client-centered, and who don’t behave that way. What’s more, most advisors agree that their businesses should be all about their clients, but they’ve never formulated or implemented a plan for actualizing this ideal. It’s the same as folks who say, “I have a healthy lifestyle,” but then smoke cigarettes and eat poorly. Maybe they go to a tanning salon and the gym so they can look good, but they really aren’t creating a health-centered life.
You can probably come up with dozens of new ideas for making your business all about them. Then again, maybe you’re stymied. Perhaps you’re thinking, I’d really like to do a lot more than I do for my clients, but another thought also crosses your mind: I don’t have the time, the energy, the staff, the knowledge, or the resources.
Your rationale may even include the idea that your clients won’t let you do more for them. I recently heard this at a meeting with the CEO of a major insurance company in California. He made an offhand remark about the wonderful things the agents do for “the clients who will let us.” I couldn’t just let that pass without comment, so I told him it shouldn’t be up to his clients. Of course, a client can choose whether or not they work with one of his agents at all, but the CEO needed to decide what level of service they were going to provide to everyone who works with them. When you get on an airplane and the flight attendant closes the door, does the pilot ask, “Does everyone want me to fly the plane today?” or “Does everyone agree with my flight plan?” An airline doesn’t give its passengers discretion about whether to board the plane on time or not, whether to take off as scheduled, whether to divert to another airport at their whim. And why not? Because the other passengers suffer when the pilot abdicates his responsibility to serving all of them equally.
How does this translate to your profession? When you commit to having an all-about-them business, you do what’s right for the clients. Period. No hemming or hawing, no allowing them to dictate how you run your business. You figure out what is in their best interests, and then you do it. You don’t simply revere the idea of doing what’s right for them; you actually implement every time. As Guy Kawasaki wrote in The Macintosh Way, you don’t compete on strategy; you compete on execution.
I know you really care about your clients and would really love to run an all-about-them business, but the question is how? How do you go from running your practice as it is now to operating the kind of business that puts the clients first? And if you think you already run a business that’s all about them, then how do you take it to the next level?
- If my business were really all about them, how often would each client see me each year, and how much time would they get?
- If my business were really all about them, exactly what would I do for each person?
- If my business were really all about them, how would I make my clients’ lives simpler?
- If my business were really all about them, how would they pay me for this value?
- If my business were really all about them, how many clients could I do all this for?
- If my business were really all about them, how many people would staff my office?
- If my business were really all about them, would I have strategic alliances and partners?
- If my business were really all about them, how would I take care of myself physically and emotionally?
This should be your objective: Once you’ve brainstormed answers to the eight questions above, make a list of everything you will be delivering to your clients and how it benefits them. (If you’d like to see what one highly successful advisor calls his “10 Client Deliverables,” go to www.TrustedAdvisorToolkit.com. You will be surprised, I imagine, to find that many of these benefits create a better, more manageable business for you, too.
For example, if you were to spend the kind of time with your clients they deserve, that would probably mean less clients, which would mean you’d need to work with clients who yield you more income per capita. You’d need to be extremely competent to work with these folks, and they’d expect you to be focused on your professional growth. Ultimately, you’d need to figure out a way to run a business that allowed you to become very good at what you do, to limit the number of clients, and to serve all of them very well.
So no doubt there’s a learning curve to contend with, new management practices to adopt, staffing issues to resolve, and client contact to be made. And that’s probably not all. It’s not an easy thing, being client-centered. But if you’re going to make it all about them, it’s what you have to do.
During your career you have probably heard a lot about niche marketing and wondered whether or not you should niche and, if so, what your niche should be.
I think you should niche, but probably not the way you usually think of it or how it’s typically taught to financial advisors.
Traditional niches are occupational or demographic. Occupational niches are criteria like dentists, highly compensated executives, or business owners. Demographic niches are criteria like people between the ages of 50 and 70 with $500,000 of investable assets.
Instead I suggest that your “niche” is your Ideal Client Profile. Let’s first discuss what an Ideal Client Profile is.
Your Ideal Client Profile consists of two parts: Personality and Economic Viability. In other words, you want to work with people you like who have the ability to pay you enough money to make it worth your while to have them as clients.
For example, how would this be as an Ideal Client Profile: People who are serious about achieving their goals, want comprehensive financial services, have a delegator personality, and are willing and able to pay $ / year to have a Trusted Advisor help them make smart choices about their money.
For clarity, a delegator personality is someone who truly values the advice of a professional and consistently acts on that advice. You determine the amount of annual recurring revenue each client must pay you based on your financial needs, overhead, and how many hours of time it takes you to serve each client.
Imagine having an entire client community made up exclusively of people who meet your Ideal Client Profile? How would that impact your financial health? How would that insulate you from the adverse affects of market downturns and other events outside of your control? What would your quality of life be like?
How do you build a business of only Ideal Clients?
Step 1: Identify your current Ideal Clients. Don’t be discouraged if it’s not a large number. You can build an entire Ideal Client Community in just a few years beginning with only a handful of Ideal Clients. How do you know who your Ideal Clients are? Look at the names in your appointment calendar. The names that make you smile are probably people you like who have the ability to pay you enough money to make it worth your while to have them as clients. And the people who make you frown are likely those who you either dislike or who consume too much time to be profitable – or both. Once you are clear who is an Ideal Client and who is not, make a short list of the Ideal Client attributes. This is your Ideal Client Profile. Utilize the online exercise to help you get started (http://www.accountabilitycoach.com/bw/icp/icp1.php).
Step 2: Replicate your Ideal Clients by referral. Your Ideal Clients know others who are just like them. And if these people are serious about achieving their goals, want comprehensive financial services, have a delegator personality, and are willing / able to pay you $ / year for you to be their Trusted Advisor to help them make smart choices about their money… do you really care about their occupation or their age?
One of the most important skills you will ever develop is the ability to articulately ask for referrals, get introduced well to the people to whom you are referred, and effectively follow-up to schedule appointments. This is a skill anyone can develop with the right process, training, coaching, and practice.
If you are unclear about how our turn-key business model can help you build your Ideal Client Community in 4 years or less by referral only, thus helping you have your Ideal Life, maybe it’s time to speak with one of our Accountability Coaches. There is no charge for you to experience the Success Road Map® in an initial consultation. Whether you do business with us or not, it is something that is a good use of your time to help you get even clearer on creating a game plan for increased success.
We wish you continued success in building your Ideal Client Community.