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​compiled by FPA staff

Financial planners endeavor to master the necessary skills required for the practice of financial planning that help them serve the needs of their clients. But planners also need the information and skills necessary to master the business of financial planning to reach new levels of productivity, profitability, and success.

FPA is proud to have strategic partnerships with some of the best and brightest thought leaders in the business of financial planning, and we are bringing these experts to FPA members through the FPA Coaches Corner, a one-stop-shop for business development content, tools, and resources. To kick off this new FPA member benefit, each coach was asked to provide one thing every financial planner should do today to improve their business. Their responses are captured here.

Explore the exclusive resources provided by the FPA coaches at (login required), where new content will be added regularly.

Messaging and Marketing Strategies Active Networking

Active networking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get your story out to people who need to hear it. But, you must be prepared and willing to commit to making it part of your weekly routine.

  1. Make a list of everyone you know who could become a client or introduce you to a potential client.
  2. Start with people you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. Call one person to meet you for coffee or a drink to catch up.
  3. When you meet, focus on finding out what’s new in their life—work, family, whatever it might be. Demonstrate your genuine interest in them.
  4. At some point, they’ll ask what’s new with you. Tell them about your family and what you’ve been doing for fun.
  5. Then share a client story you’ve prepared that communicates why you love what you do as a planner.
  6. Once you’ve told the story of your client and how you’ve helped them, follow up with: “You may or may not know anyone who needs this kind of help right now, but if you run into or hear about someone who does, will you give me a call? You can tell me what you know about them and their situation, and if I think I can help, we can talk about the best way to get together.”

Make a goal of just one meeting per week. You will find new clients, or they will find you.

—Susan Kornegay

Pathfinder Strategic Solutions

Team Development Align the Team to Deliver Value

The life of a financial professional is far more complex than ever before, and it is increasingly difficult to deliver on the ultimate client experience and grow your business unless you have the right team of people in place. The No. 1 thing every planner needs to do is align the talents of the team in order to deliver on their value proposition. Answer the following questions and act accordingly:

  1. Have you clearly defined your value proposition and client deliverables?
  2. Do you have the right people engaged in the right roles?
  3. Do you have enough internal/external people resources? Are there any capacity issues or gaps of coverage?
  4. Does each team member have:
       - Clarity regarding their responsibilities and expectations of performance?
       - The training and resources they need to execute their role at the highest level
       - Systems and processes to efficiently conduct their work and provide excellent client service?
  5. Are you effectively communicating with each team member and the group as a whole?

Achieving the ROI that financial professionals seek begins with maximizing ROP™—Return on People. It is people who can make or break your success. Focus on the people, and the numbers will follow. Building an agile team that responds to the needs of our constantly evolving profession is your competitive advantage that leads to everlasting success and personal fulfillment.

—Sarah Dale and Krista Sheets 
Paragon Resources/Performance Insights

Cybersecurity Get Ready for Cybersecurity Regulations 

Complete a self-assessment of your preparedness regarding cybersecurity regulations:

Step 1: Industry regulations. Start by listing the industry regulations that apply to you, depending on where you do business, where your clients reside, and what products and services you offer them.

Step 2: Representations. List the representations you did to clients, to regulators, and to cybersecurity insurance providers regarding what you are doing to protect private information.

Step 3: Cybersecurity documents. Create, or review, your cybersecurity documents: 

  • Incident Response Plan (IRP)
  • Written Information Security Plan (WISP)
  • Risk assessments

Step 4: Third-party vendors. List all third-party vendors who have access to private client information and confirm how these vendors protect this information.

Step 5: Education. Review the education you are required to give employees about cybersecurity.

Once you have completed this self-assessment, produce a folder containing required documents and cybersecurity tools, along with a cyber insurance policy. This provides proof that you comply with requirements and effectively protect your clients’ information. This self-assessment exercise ensures you are not only accurately protecting private information your clients have entrusted you with, but also protecting you, and your firm, from any liability that comes with the risk of a data breach.

—Brian Edelman 

The Financial Planner’s Mindset Master Your Mindset

Whether you’re a struggling planner or the CEO of a national enterprise, you cannot be, have, achieve, or experience more—in business or in life—until you expand your perspective.

The findings from science and psychology are clear: success is 80 percent mindset and 20 percent methods. More than any other factor, it is your mindset that determines what’s possible and whether you achieve it.

We can be so focused on the methods of business: defining business strategy, driving growth, leveraging teams, managing operations, planning, investing, and servicing clients to name a few, that we lose sight of what matters most—mastering our mindset.

In 20-plus years of business consulting and executive coaching I’ve been brought every imaginable challenge, all of which can be summarized into one of two objectives: help us solve this problem, or help us capitalize on this opportunity. Doing either requires that you:

  • Challenge your status quo
  • Raise your standards
  • Expand your perspective
  • Take action aligned with your goals

Irrespective of what you seek, this is the formula for success in realizing it. It applies to a small practice looking to grow as much as to M&A work for larger enterprises. I’ve successfully realigned strategy, solved growth challenges, reorganized teams, scaled operations, saved partnerships, and launched national programs with this mindset-focused model.

Methods are important mechanisms, but mastering your mindset is the first step toward unleashing your potential and experiencing greater levels of success, happiness, wealth, and well-being in your work and life. Why settle for anything less? Life is now in session.

—Stephanie Bogan 
Educe Inc.

Business Growth Strategies Keep Leads Warm

Choosing a financial planner is not an impulse decision. For some it can take months, or even years, to decide to work with a planner. While all that time passes, we have seen many planners lose sight of their prospects. This results in the leads going cold, never becoming a client, and opportunities for growth wasted.

To prevent this from happening, here are four tips to win over prospective clients:

  1. Stay top of mind. Use your CRM to run reports on the prospects and monitor the activity used to win them over. Go even farther by creating workflows to stay in front of your potential clients to move them through the lead funnel.
  2. Drip on them. Use a tool like Constant Contact to segment prospects and blast out quality content to them on a regular basis. After sending drip campaigns, track to see what they click on, learning what topics are of interest for each person.
  3. Stay connected. Use social networks to connect with prospects and keep tabs on what is going on in their lives. Take the opportunity to show you care, when the opportunities arise. A virtual relationship can often develop into something more.
  4. Send personalized video messages. It can be hard to get face time with prospects, but most financial planners know that in-person meetings improve their ability to close prospects. To help, use personalized video emails to stay in front of your leads to win them over.

—Mike Byrnes 
Byrnes Consulting

Compliance Gather Compliance Disclosures

As I’m sure you are aware, supervision of your Investment Adviser Representatives (IARs) and all other access persons of your firm is a very important part of a compliance program. Firms are responsible for overseeing many areas, and therefore need to collect from their IARs and access persons a variety of information. These details include, but are not limited to:

  • Outside business activities
  • Annual securities holdings (in addition to quarterly transaction reports)
  • Access to inside information directly or through family members
  • Disciplinary and legal matters (such as bankruptcy and liens)
  • Political contributions
  • Gifts and entertainment received and given

It is important that you are informed of these items at the time of hire. Additionally, it’s important that you stay informed of any changes. Situations such as outside business activities and access to inside information can change over time. Although your access people should disclose to you promptly when changes occur, they may need an annual prompting to remind them.

An annual compliance questionnaire can be used to help you and everyone in your firm stay on top of these disclosure requirements. Whether you choose to provide it in a stand-alone email communication firm-wide or hand it out and discuss during your annual compliance meeting, the questionnaire can remind everyone of their compliance responsibilities to inform you of these matters and help you document your supervision.

—Todd Sakoda
The Consortium

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