One of the key principles underlying all of IMCA’s online and live educational opportunities, including its Annual Conference Experience, is providing pragmatic education that helps investment and wealth professionals drive their business forward. As part of this mission, this year’s conference offered an Advanced Business Strategist Program (ABS), a “conference within a conference” designed for leaders of small, medium or large advisory teams or independent advisory businesses.
Ray Sclafani, founder and CEO of ClientWise, spoke at an ABS session about how practitioners can reframe their wealth management business for success, offering insights into what top firms do to win and retain business—as well as how those firms keep the industry moving forward. The key takeaway? Advisors need to build bigger, better teams, as well as their legacy. The impact they make on one family or client can have ripple effects for generations to come.
Sclafani offered the following ten tips to provide advisors with a tangible approach to building a client-centric, enduring and successful business. According to Sclafani, top firms:
- Are intensely focused on growth and are willing to reframe themselves on a regular basis. Growing is not just about financial metrics like revenue and profits; it’s also about the people, processes and technology that set the firm apart. This requires reevaluation at regular intervals.
- Understand that building a strong team is essential. While it’s possible to go it alone in this business, the most successful businesses leverage the strengths of multiple individuals to address the complex needs of multi-generational clients.
- Have expanded their definition of wealth management to be more comprehensive. Top firms treat planning as the foundation of their client relationships. These advisors understand their clients’ needs from soup to nuts, taking a holistic, long-term view to integrate the various aspects of clients’ financial planning goals.
- Are willing to clearly define their services. It is critical that clients know exactly what they’re getting from their wealth managers. If successful firms are taking the holistic approach outlined above, they’ll need to be clear about what factors and services feed into this service philosophy.
- Are clear about their unique value proposition. Client targeting and marketing are often overlooked, but they drive tremendous value when it comes to differentiating the business and winning new clients.
- Condition clients to understand their value. Word-of-mouth is a key driver of new business for wealth managers. Getting clients invested in the business turns them into loyal brand advocates.
- Invest in human capital. People are the foundation of a successful advisory business. Top firms are deliberate in attracting, developing, rewarding and promoting talent.
- Prioritize partnering over selling. More than ever, clients are putting in the time to educate themselves about how to best manage their wealth. Respecting and leveraging the knowledge they bring to the table empowers the client and creates a sense of equality in the relationship.
- Believe in the importance of leadership development. The best firms create a trajectory for moving employees from sales to technical expertise to leadership. This is critical to keeping the firm moving forward.
- Are comfortable partnering with other professionals. Building a team is not just about bringing together a group of stellar advisors. It’s also about tapping the right resources, such as CPAs, attorneys and mortgage brokers, to meet the client’s goals—not just drive new business.
The tips outlined above may seem simple or intuitive, but they can be challenging and complex to implement. But they’re worth it. They help build enduring value not just for the business, but also its clients. This holistic, client-focused approach is at the heart of IMCA’s Investments and Wealth Competency Matrix, the educational framework forming the foundation of the organization’s CIMA® and CPWA® certifications.