By Jerry Butler 

#1. Do you have a Continuation Plan to protect income and/or value?

90% of advisors do not have a “plan” in place for their business to continue if the advisor is not available for a week, a month or longer or perhaps even forever. 10% of all businesses are transitioned because they HAVE to be. Disability, death or loss of license can create a situation that is not “fair” to the advisor or their family and especially for their clients. 

If your business has to be transitioned it is worth 50% to 100% less than its fair market value. Do you and your family a favour – get a proper and legal Continuation Plan in place.

#2. Do you have a value added proposition?

Why do your clients deal with you? Clients can “buy” financial products on almost every corner so they need to know the value you bring to the table vs. the competition. This is very important as a value added proposition is a transferable identifiable intangible.

#3. Who is your client’s “financial advisor”?

If asked “who is your financial advisor?” how would your clients answer? Most advisors would be shocked to know that their client’s may answer something other than them. Many clients will answer the name of the dealer or even the manufacturer of their holdings. This is especially true of the bank owned firms as banks have done an amazing job (and a 100+ years) of branding. This is why you are “required” to answer the phone with the name of your Dealer. You are branding your dealer.  

#4. Your licensed assistant.

Do your clients know your assistant? When you are not there do they ask your assistant what they need? A good long term assistant, expecially if licensed, will reduce the transition risk of selling your business. Many advisors look at their assistant as a necessary expense. Make your assistant an asset!

#5. Customer Service Process.

Do you have a clearly defined process that is clear to your “team” and your clients? This work flow management tool is one of the most underused and underappreciated arrow in the advisors quill. A clearly defined process allows most of the “work” to be done without the advisors step by step input. The more work done without the advisor – the more the business is worth.

#6. An Inside Sales Process.

I am always amazed that advisors “prize” a licensed assistant but they do not train them to “sell” or even qualify a client for a potential sale. This is another area that can have a clearly defined work flow so that the questions needed to be asked are asked by the assistant not just the advisor. An inside sales process is an incredible asset as it allows the business to make money without the advisor. In addition, this allows the team to service and sell to a much larger client base. 

#7. A Client Relationship Management (CRM) data base.

An up to date and complete data base for clients and prospects can greatly reduce transition risk and therefore increase value. If someone other than you (including staff) sits down with a client and they are able to summarize recent activity and confirm risk tolerance it goes a long way to help the client feel comfortable.

#8. Effective use of technology.

The effective use of technology is an oxymoron to most advisors! They may have the best and the newest but it is not integrated into their business so that the business is more effective and more efficient. Technology is the perfect tool to allow staff to do more of the chores of the advisor. This frees the advisor to spend more time with clients and prospects. Your web site, financial planning, portfolio management, social media marketing, client portals, the cloud, the paperless office, a workflow management system, integration, client communication, presentations – the list goes on. The effective and efficient use of technology will not only increase the value of your business it will keep you in pace with your competition.

#9. What is your Brand?

Branding is one of the most overused and misunderstood concepts ever. What do your clients, prospects, staff, friends all think of you and your business? That is your Brand. If your email address is bubba@hotmail than that will influence your brand. If you answer the phone “YUP” (as I have heard a few times) that will influence your brand. Website, marketing, promotions, etc will all influence your brand. Your brand, if done properly, will outlive you! That makes your business more valuable. Everything your business does will influence your Brand so take it all seriously.

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