If you’re a financial advisor and you want to build a business that suits your needs, make sure you read this article in its entirety… Because what I’m about to share with you right now may anger some, but it will help countless others. You see, the financial services industry is changing rapidly and there are many financial advisors who want to build “lifestyle practices”. These are businesses which are owned and managed by their founders, who aren’t necessarily interested in scaling to the moon. These people want stable businesses which throw off a healthy income to support them. In fact, several of my Inner Circle members fit into this model because they enjoy all the perks that come with it. They can design their businesses to suit their needs, not the other way around. So, if you’re interested in creating a lifestyle practice, here are some tips… \
1. Focus On Your Productivity
This tip is so important, I literally made it tip number one in 57 Marketing Tips For Financial Advisors (which you can get for free here).
Productivity is defined as “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.
I want you to notice how this definition doesn’t say anything about having twenty different to-do lists, productivity apps, or browser extensions. At its core, productivity is about getting more OUTPUT from the same level of INPUT. And as a financial advisor, your income is closely tied to how productive you are.
Your input may be sending an email out to your list of three hundred prospects. If you can raise your output to twenty appointments instead of five, you will have quadrupled your productivity. Your input may be sending out one hundred direct mail pieces. If you tweak your headline and body copy to get three phone calls instead of one, you will have tripled your productivity.
Because of this, effective marketing and business-building as a financial advisor means you must be in a state of constant and never-ending improvement, especially if you want a lifestyle financial planning practice that grows with you.
It also means that you must continually “level up” your hourly rate. I don’t necessarily mean raising your fees (although that can help). I mean striving to focus on higher and higher value tasks that contribute more to your business.
For example, let’s assume a financial advisor divides up his income and discovers that he makes an average of $40 per hour. This doesn’t mean he’s working on $40 per hour tasks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. I’ve discovered that, most of the time, a financial advisor’s workday looks like this:
If you do the math, you’ll realize this still works out to $40 per hour. However, the key to increasing productivity is identifying the activities generating more than your hourly average and focusing on those. Doing so can lead to a quantum leap in your income (or allow you to work fewer hours if you so choose).
2. Leverage Technology To Become More Efficient
It’s amazing to see the things that can be automated today that had to be done manually twenty years ago.
For example, more and more financial advisors are ditching seminar marketing for webinars that can be automated and scaled. I don’t blame them - an evergreen webinar can work for you whether you’re working, sleeping, or on vacation. It doesn’t care. It just works. Plus, a webinar can help build your email list.
And speaking of building an email list, email marketing is one of the best ways for financial advisors to leverage technology because it takes the same amount of time to reach 1,000 people via email as it does to reach 100.
In addition, you can set up an autoresponder sequence to automatically follow up with prospects with no direct involvement on your part. All you have to do is write the emails, put them into your sequence, and let the machine do the hard work for you.
I even take my own advice: when people sign up for my email list, they’re put into an autoresponder sequence where they’re introduced to some of the most effective ways to get more clients. I want everyone to go through this sequence because it’s important for them to know certain things before being exposed to my regular “broadcast” emails.
Email marketing automates the problem of not following up. Depending on the study you read, almost nobody follows up more than five times. Yet, most “sales” (for financial advisors, it’s appointments) are made after the fifth contact. See the dilemma here? By instituting an automated follow-up sequence, you can solve this problem and increase revenue without changing anything else.
(By the way, if you’re interested in seeing my unique, three-step process for converting cold prospects into booked appointments for financial advisors, watch the webinar here: 3 Counterintuitive Ways Financial Advisors Can Get More Clients With Email Marketing)
Another piece of technology every financial advisor should use - particularly when building a lifestyle business - is a CRM (customer relationship management software).
If used effectively, a CRM can be your second brain. It’ll help you store all the valuable information about your prospective clients and clients, including birthdays, important reminders, follow-up notes, and more.
A CRM can also increase your productivity because trying to go through an inbox or call log to get someone’s information is a waste of time. Since a CRM is a full, accurate record of your entire interaction history, you can literally pull it up and see where you stand with someone.
It will also help you track metrics to predict the future. As an example, goal setting becomes much easier when you use a CRM because you can see your pipeline and get an accurate feel for how much business you can expect in the weeks and months ahead.
One last reason I encourage financial advisors to use a CRM is because it can allow you to optimize your marketing over time. Let’s say you send out a direct mail campaign and use a unique phone number to track it. Whenever a prospect calls that unique number, you can tag him or her in your CRM as originating from your direct mail campaign.
The CRM I recommend is Capsule and you can read more about it here: The Best CRM For Financial Advisors
3. Be More Selective With Your Clients
Even though I’m known as the “financial advisor marketing” guy, there are times when you should turn away clients. This goes double for financial advisors who want a lifestyle practice. Once upon a time, an Inner Circle newsletter subscriber told me how even though the marketing methods I discuss in the newsletter are working well for him, he’s attracting clients who don’t meet his $250K minimum.
He told me it was difficult for him to turn away smaller prospects because he feels like he “needs” them as clients. He was operating with a scarcity mindset, even though turning people away can sometimes be the best thing you do because a short-term “win” can turn into a long-term loss.
Because if my Inner Circle member took on those smaller clients, he would be giving up his valuable time and resources for less money. The incremental revenue wouldn’t justify the additional work.
At the end of the day, you have to look at the opportunity cost of your actions.
This means avoiding some opportunities so you can hold out for bigger ones. Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies. I encourage all financial advisors to apply that mindset to their businesses.
So, if you want to build a lifestyle practice, I invite you to harness the power of
Because while I’m a big believer in attraction marketing, I’m an even bigger believer in repulsion marketing. I’ve found if you can repel the wrong types of people out of your life, the right types become even more attracted to you.
Besides, the secret of becoming more exclusive is all about excluding people… aka becoming more selective. Here’s how it can benefit you…
Let’s say you’re a financial advisor with strict account minimums. If someone comes to you who doesn’t meet those minimums, you should respectfully and politely turn that person away while letting him or her know you’re open to helping anyone he or she may know who meets those minimums. I know of several instances where handling this situation correctly has led to referrals.
Being more selective can also mean having a niche. When you niche down, your marketing becomes easier and your response tends to go up. Because instead of marketing to everyone with a pulse, you’re marketing to a certain type of person. If you’re a financial advisor who works exclusively with physicians, your physician prospects will instantly recognize that you help people just like them.
4. Don't Put Off Hiring Support Staff
With all else being equal, I would rather run a business with fewer employees. Many financial advisors feel the same way. However, building a lifestyle business may necessitate hiring a person or two.
You don’t have to grow a mega-firm, but you may want some help along the way. If that’s the case, I suggest hiring a virtual assistant. There are many ways virtual assistants can help you:
- They can handle administrative tasks, from managing your calendar to responding to emails.
- They can help you scale. If you’re stuck making around $300K per year by yourself and want to grow to $400K, you can hire a VA for $40K and use him/her to make an additional $140K to reach your goal. Since virtual assistants are a comparatively cost-effective alternative to “real” employees, you can substantially reduce your costs and invest the money back into your business.
- They can manage your online presence and create content for you. By creating content for you, they’re creating marketing assets that will continue to work for your business for years to come.
- They can keep you sane. Having someone to whom you can faithfully delegate tasks can give you the freedom to live the lifestyle you want.
If you want more suggestions on how to hire a virtual assistant, listen to episode 56 of the “Financial Advisor Marketing” podcast. In this episode, I talk with Danielle Cuomo (founder of Virtual Assist USA) about how financial advisors can leverage VAs to get more done.
5. Pick Marketing Strategies That Match Your Personality
This is a piece of advice you’ll never hear from the “experts!” out there: make sure your marketing matches YOU. I once heard a story about legendary speaker Zig Ziglar that illustrates this concept perfectly…
He used to do a “bad” thing. Something that offended a lot of people, and it was something he did in every speech.
What was it, you ask?
It was giving his Biblical testimony.
(To be clear: I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not. Religion itself has nothing to do with what I’m trying to illustrate here, so spare me any diatribes.)
When Zig first started speaking, people would take him aside and tell him not to do it, that he was going to offend a lot of people, how he was going to lose corporate gigs, etc.
Well, guess what?
For more than forty years, Zig Ziglar was the single most successful motivational speaker in history.
So, why did it work so well?
As best as I can surmise, it’s because Zig stayed true to himself. People could see that he was genuine. Do with this information what you want, but I will say this…
This goes double for financial advisors. If you’re trying to fake ANYTHING about your business, you’re only hurting yourself. People can see right through it, whether they explicitly tell you so or not.
Here’s another example…
Several years ago, a financial advisor reached out to book me for a 30-minute consulting call because he wanted my advice on creating a client appreciation event.
He was telling me that he knew several financial advisors who were doing wine tasting events with great success. Yet, there was one problem…
This financial advisor HATED wine. So, wine tastings were out the window for him. That’s why I suggest he take the wine tasting model and substitute wine for something he liked.
He chose whiskey.
Months later, he wrote me back letting me know that he’s had several whiskey tastings and they’ve all been massive successes.
Imagine this guy trying to do wine tastings, even though he despises wine. He would hate it and it would be an uphill battle. Yet, when he decided to do something he enjoyed (whiskey tastings) it didn’t feel like “work”. He was able to commit 100% because his marketing strategy aligned with his personal preferences.
Another example is when financial advisors try to “dial for dollars” even though they aren’t wired for cold calling. Some people aren’t naturally outgoing. It’s their nature. It’s neither good nor bad.
But the problems begin when they try to fight their nature. Doing so makes things twice as hard.
The solution is to use marketing and prospecting strategies which more naturally align with your personality.
In my experience, a common method is using LinkedIn to get more clients. It’s not aggressive, it’s not pushy, and it enables you to establish value long before you have an appointment (which makes people more likely to become clients). Plus, it allows you to do research on your prospects, which many financial advisors say makes them more comfortable.
To be 100% transparent, LinkedIn marketing is NOT for everyone, but if it more naturally aligns with your personality, it’ll make building your business much easier.
Figure Out What A "Lifestyle" Business Means To You...
I was hesitant to write an article on this topic because a “lifestyle” business means different things to different people.
For some people, it may mean making $100K per year and living in a small home in the Midwest. For others, it may mean making $750K per year with a vacation home by the beach and two exotic cars.
Figure out whatever it means for you, so you have a goal. From there, all you have to do is reverse engineer it and build your business accordingly. A lot easier said than done, I know, but you probably do this type of planning for your clients all the time. Why not do it for yourself?
I hope this helps you and I wish you nothing but the best!