“Just when you think you’ve won the rat race, along come faster rats.” You are a financial advisor, not a rat. You have built your book. You have clients who like you and vice versa. It might be said you’ve trained them to do business your way, a kinder observation might be you have conformed to the way they like to do business and vice versa. You even see retirement on the horizon. Now your sales manager wants you to change! Get with the program! Why should I?
It might be said you’ve gotten comfortable in the way you do business. Your clients are happy. Why rock the boat?
There are Two Sides to Every Story
There are two ways of viewing this situation:
Your own world. You know each client. They do business. They introduce friends. They are comfortable. You will eventually retire.
The firm’s world. The industry is changing. Margins are being squeezed. Trading for the next generation is moving online. We need to look for other streams of revenue, get a greater share of wallet. Our best clients are aging out. Their heirs are taking their inherited money elsewhere. The firm doesn’t retire, it lives forever. We must adapt with the times.
Why Should You Change?
It’s tempting to stick to a familiar way of doing business, especially when the revenue is fee based. Gone are the days when you needed to look for trades. You provide your clients with good service. They are happy to pay. Here’s what you aren’t considering.
1. Enter the accountant. Clients may be agreeable to fees, but their CPA may spell out for them the dollar cost of working with you and suggest they consider alternatives.
2. Best clients = best prospects. Your best client is another advisor’s best prospect. Perhaps the competitor is the son or daughter of a friend. They are encouraged to send some money in their direction, to help them get started. It’s the thin end of the wedge.
3. Share of wallet works both ways. Once upon a time, stockbrokers, bankers and insurance agents stayed in their own silos. Now everyone wants it all. If they bank or buy insurance elsewhere, they are likely being prospected for their investment account.
4. Long term care. Your client base is getting older. They might be unable to live on their own someday. That day might come unexpectedly. If they aren’t prepared, their investment account could be wiped out by medical bills.
5. Retirement planning. Your senior executive client thinks you are great. Their company thinks your client is great. They bring in a retirement planning specialist, at company expense, to get them ready for their eventual departure. They hit it off. With complex retirement issues sorted, they ask for the investment account to be transferred to them too.
6. Retirement of a different sort. You might love your job. Your client might not be so lucky. They are looking forward to retirement. They might assume you are too. If they have a short timer mentality, they might think you do too. They want a long-term advisory relationship that will last them through retirement. They let you know they are assuming you will be retiring soon. They move their assets elsewhere.
7. The neglected spouse. You have a primary contact person in the relationship. Suddenly that person is no longer in the picture. The surviving spouse inherits the assets and doesn’t feel the same close bond you had with your primary contact.
8. Death and relocation. Attrition takes its toll. Clients move away. Tight relationships get loosened. Assets become inactive or transfer out.
You see your practice as 100 relationships. Your firm sees 10,000 advisors with 1,000,000 relationships. They spot trends. They try putting in proactive policies like getting to know the next generation, involving the spouse in investment decision making and competing for a greater share of wallet. The firm doesn’t want to be a victim of changing circumstances. They don’t want you to be either.