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10 Simple Ways to Build a Successful Wealth Management Practice You Love

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Maybe you’re one of them. Do you feel the same way?

Many of the financial advisors I speak with are tiring of the overuse of the term “wealth management”. 

From tag lines to commercials and from big firms to independent practitioners, it seems every sector of the financial services industry wants to find a way to get into the wealth management business.  

I believe this is a very worthy goal.  

And though the terminology, at least from a popular perspective, is relatively new, most of the true professionals I know have been managing wealth for many years.

If you are a stockbroker, financial planner, insurance specialist or banker, your commitment to helping clients accumulate, grow, protect and transfer wealth means you are practicing wealth management.  

Whether you produce fees or commissions or have salary and bonus compensation, your ability to take complex financial needs and translate them into personally tailored client solutions makes you a wealth manager.

Assuming you accept this brief argument for defining your work as wealth management, you are on your way to overcoming the stigma of this overused term.  

Making the decision to formally take on this business model means analyzing both the way you execute your client management process and the words you use articulate your value. 

This strategy could put you on track to grow your practice because you will find many opportunities to deepen your existing relationships and attract new ones.

This strategy could put you on track to grow your practice because you will find many opportunities to deepen your existing relationships and attract new ones.

To get started, here are my 10 simple ways to build a successful wealth management practice you love.

Some advisors may be able to quickly move through most of them and focus only on those that will make a big difference. Others may need to diligently work through all of them, so it will take longer.  

Either way, this transition is not something you need to rush. Simply review the steps, prioritize them and work with your team to settle on realistic timeframes.  

Your commitment to transition will almost immediately bring new business opportunities, even before you complete the process. 

Let’s dig in…

1) Understand your current role – To begin the process of understanding your role as a wealth manager, you need to define your view of wealth management.  

I believe wealth management is an approach to running your business as well as a process for establishing lifelong relationships. 

You are helping high net worth clients establish personal financial goals and then working with them to develop and implement solutions that enable them to reach those goals and live comfortably. 

It encompasses wealth accumulation, growth, protection and transfer.

A comprehensive financial planner may already embrace this entire process making their role very clear.

If you specialize in asset allocation, investments, insurance or other subsets of wealth management, this definition may seem too broad or be beyond the scope of your current capabilities, but don’t let this deter you.  

Advisors who are comfortable with their specialty roles merely need to decide how they will leverage their expertise.

2) Outline your process — All successful wealth managers have an easily understandable and repeatable process for addressing current and future client needs.  

This process moves from discovery and agreement through solution development and implementation and finishes with monitoring and review.

In this step, you need to settle on your resources for gathering facts, crunching the data and presenting your recommendations.  

If you define your role as that of a comprehensive planner, you might use your own software tools and do all of this work in-house. 

On the other hand, if you are a specialist, you may need to draw on outsourced support to round out the process that is included in your specialty.

3) Compose your team — With an understanding of your role and process, you now need to build or refine your wealth management team.  

Composed of your existing staff and external resources, your team should be designed to augment your strengths whether you are a financial planner or a specialist. 

External resources could range from home office support to strategic product providers to local legal and tax professionals.  

Responsibilities include administration, sales and marketing, professional services and client care. You may task yourself and individual members of your team with multiple roles.

The key is to be sure that all bases of your wealth management process are covered.

4) Decide on your compensation model — Choosing how you want to be paid as a wealth manager could arguably be handled as an earlier step.  

But to my way of thinking, roles, process and team will ultimately determine your effectiveness in serving high net worth clients. 

As long as you have your integrity in place, the way you choose to be paid is almost irrelevant.  

Fee, commission, professional service and combination models all have their places and can lead to client-focused as well as profitable practices.

Ultimately you need to be comfortable in explaining compensation so that it is clear to your clients and prospects.

“The 2 most important components of ongoing education are consistency and the ability to turn it into new business opportunities.”

5) Commit to ongoing education — Though professional designations are worthwhile, they are not necessarily determinants of your qualifications as a wealth manager.  

The 2 most important components of ongoing education are consistency and the ability to turn it into new business opportunities. 

If you strive to build your professionalism, your process and team (internal and external) will allow you to build appropriate client solutions.  

At the same time, your commitment to constant professional growth will allow you to recognize situations that will lead to more business.

Education for education’s sake is helpful, but education that leads to more business through better client solutions will give you a sustaining practice.

6) Articulate your value — A personal and team understanding of your wealth management process is essential, but unless you have the ability to clearly articulate the value your process brings to your client relationships you will be finished before you get started.  

Products, services, software and strategic relationships are all intricate components of your wealth management equation, but how you tell your story will make a tremendous difference in winning and keeping lifelong relationships. 

Ultimately, you provide the value and this is what your clients and prospects need to know.  

Successful wealth mangers make sure their clients are fully aware of their capabilities and constantly look for opportunities to educate prospective clients on the value of their work. 

In both my one-on-one and group coaching programs for advisors, I work through a process for creating simple written and oral tools that help articulate this value and then develop strategies for putting them to work.  

In a future article I’ll share insights for developing your Unique Selling Proposition(USP) so stay tuned.

7) Define your ideal client relationship — Once you are able to clearly articulate your value, you need to be sure you are telling your story to the right people.  

Your wealth management practice should not be a one size fits all business. Though your process will work well for many types of high net worth investors, you more than likely have client relationships that are both more enjoyable and profitable.  

I call these your ideal client relationships. Successful wealth managers segment these relationships in order that they may better service and clone them.

Your current ideal clients probably account for 70 to 90 percent of your revenues and may represent less than 25 percent of your relationships.

The more time you spend with them, making sure they understand the nature of your wealth advisory practice, the greater the likelihood of new business from cross-selling, new assets and referrals.  

Your business grows even though you end up spending more time with fewer people.

If your current clientele is not sufficient enough to support the future growth you envision, your ideal client definition will enable you to tightly define target markets that contain investors who look like them.  

Having a definition of an ideal client is a pre-requisite for the next 2 steps.

“The successful wealth manager understands this potential and systematically positions their practice to deepen existing client relationships.”

8) Deepen existing client relationships — To my way of thinking, most successful advisors have all the clients they need and a wealth management mindset will help ensure this reality.  

I say this because I know that even in the most efficient wealth management practices there is an ongoing opportunity to capture new business and strategic referrals.  

New business that may come from the capture of assets not yet created, financial lifecycle progression and many other circumstances that unfold with time and the right type of clients. 

Simultaneously, existing clients are the wealth manager’s best source of referrals.

The successful wealth manager understands this potential and systematically positions their practice to deepen existing client relationships.  

My 6 Step Encore Advisor Coaching Process encourages these activities by showing advisors how to constantly profile their clients and turn them into advocates. 

Profiling is regularly asking simple questions in different ways with the goal of uncovering new business opportunities.  

In turn, well coordinated profiling leads to client advocacy; the processes of letting your ideal client know how important they are to your practice and showing them how to give you natural referrals.

9) Systematize client acquisition — I recognize that many advisors practices have not been managed in a fashion that will lead to an easy wealth management transition; they cannot leverage their current clientele.  

This is generally the result of scattered target markets or a very narrow client management process.

If this is the case, creating a systematic approach to client acquisition is a priority.  I am not suggesting random, high volume prospecting techniques.  

With your value proposition and ideal client in mind, you develop professional and highly targeted campaigns to which you can commit yourself for an extended period of time.

In working with advisors to develop client acquisition strategies, I find that connection style and permission based campaigns work best.

Both strategies involve targeting highly selected groups of potential clients and demonstrating, as professionally as possible, the benefits of adapting a relationship with a wealth advisor.  

Though these tend to be slower, more deliberate approaches the end result is a well-qualified client who clearly appreciates the advisor’s client management process.

10) Establish a service model — A great deal of research has been done over the past few years on the service expectations of high net worth clients.  

The bottom line to all of this analysis is the desire on the part of the client for frequent, personalized communication. 

Successful wealth management practices have disciplined communication strategies that are epitomized by service models that each of their clients thoroughly understand.

As you build or refine your wealth management model be sure to include standards for client service that are understood by your clients.

This model should re-enforce your role and that of the other members of your team, it is part of your process and helps deepen relationships as well as find new ideal clients.

Your service model becomes in a very tangible way your mechanism for frequent and personal communication.

To take it a step further, many successful wealth advisors extend a modified version of their service model communication to future clients as the perfect way to articulate their value.

There you have it, 10 simple ways to build a successful wealth management practice you love. 

Whether you are starting from scratch or refining your approach, you should not do it just because it sounds good.   

A true wealth manager builds a sustaining practice of loyal clients who have entrusted them with helping accomplish long-term goals – very important work for financial professionals who take it seriously.  

Let me know how I can help.

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