5 Financial Pros Share Their Smartest Business Moves

Adviser Stacy Francis: Founded nonprofit group to boost practice. none

Adviser Stacy Francis: Founded nonprofit group to boost practice. none View Enlarged Image

One smart decision can propel a financial adviser’s career. By taking bold steps to break away from the pack, from adopting a new marketing strategy to launching an ambitious nonprofit organization, wealth managers have shifted their business into overdrive.

Such moves are rarely easy or risk-free. But the benefits can outweigh the costs.

IBD recently asked financial professionals, “What’s the best thing you’ve done to develop your business?” Some instructive replies:

• Seminar savvy.

For Jim McCarthy, president and chief investment officer of Seascape Capital Management in Portsmouth, N.H., business started to take off after he began offering monthly seminars in the early 1990s. To attract affluent pre-retirees, he chose topics such as estate planning and managing Social Security benefits.

“You need a systematic process to bring in new clients on a regular basis,” McCarthy said. “In our seminars, 10 to 15 show up and we get two or three clients out of it.”

Relationships take time to blossom. Because most attendees do not become instant clients, McCarthy follows up diligently to seed his relationships with future clients.

Over time, he has reduced the number of seminars to five per year. He avoids scheduling them during the summer and year-end holidays.

He fills the seats by inviting existing clients to bring a friend or by purchasing lists of names once or twice a year and then contacting those leads. In the seminars, he focuses on delivering educational content, not selling financial products to clients.

• Referrals made easy.

Almost every financial adviser asks for referrals. But few take it as seriously as Bob Siefert.

About four years ago, Siefert began tweaking how he conducted his annual client reviews. A principal at Modera Wealth Management in Boston, Siefert started asking for referrals as a formal agenda item in client meetings.

“We put the idea of soliciting referrals as one of the last bullet points in the agenda we gave to the client in the annual review,” he said. “Now we ask, ‘How are we doing?’ And we get feedback and referrals as part of the review process.”

• Monthly outreach.

At Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, the firm’s three certified financial planners contact all 210 of their clients every month. Their outreach began about five years ago.

“During the financial crisis, we saw how some of our peers hid from clients,” recalled Diane Pearson, the firm’s co-owner. “We weren’t going to hide.”


Friday, November 29th, 2013 EN

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