By Bert A. Cooper, CES | Volume 2, Issue 6 (June 2014)
Can a solo Financial Advisor effectively offer all the expertise their clients deserve?
While we’d all like to think we’re exceptional at what we do, the real answer is no.
The most successful Advisors are those with a team behind them.
I saw a growing need among clients for comprehensive wealth management and my vision was to build a cohesive team that consisted of specialists who offered these services exceptionally well. In order to make this vision a reality I had to make a series of important strategic decisions.
I knew from the start I couldn’t do it alone, so when I embarked on building our team I had to take an honest stock of my strengths and weaknesses, my joys and struggles and then envision a ‘dream team’ that could make me better, work with me cohesively and above all else, keep the clients the first priority.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
—George Bernard Shaw
In evaluating my own skill set, I was able to identify the types of skill sets I needed to round out my team. I realized one of my biggest weaknesses was communicating with my clients in an easily understandable manner. This made my first hire a clear choice—I recruited a skilled writer of proposals, pitch books and client communications.
“It’s not knowing what to do—it’s doing what you know.”
My next evaluation was to determine what I do best, and consequently what I do least. I determined that continual analytics, evaluation and reallocation was not on my list of strengths. While I had the training and knowledge to do it, dealing with the day to day analytics of my client’s accounts left me very little time for the important details of my client’s lives. So I hired reputable third party money managers with proven track records to handle the daily trading and analysis of my client’s accounts, and I added an outstanding insurance and fund analyzer to monitor my client’s mutual funds and annuities.
Now with more time to focus on my client’s lives, I was able to spend more time meeting on family matters, life changes, their estate, their concerns for their children, their businesses and whether they’re doing the best they could. Although I could further my own education & training, and I did, wouldn’t an expert in estate planning be of greater value? As most Financial Advisors can attest it’s very difficult to bring an experienced and knowledgeable Attorney on your team, especially a top-notch estate planning attorney. It can take years to build the kind of rapport necessary to freely navigate clients between professionals on your team. So I did something unconventional, I identified the best and then I mailed him a retainer check with the following note: “This check is for you to be available to answer any questions I may have about estate planning when I’m working with clients”. It worked and it allowed me to forge an immediate alliance that would provide an expert in the estate planning arena to my clients. I could now pick up the phone in a client meeting and pose a question or have a discussion about estate planning issues in their presence. That team connection gave me added credibility with my clients letting them know they were in good hands. It also gave the attorney an introduction and the opportunity to serve the clients as well. I also added an IRS Enrolled Agent, tax-preparers and a CPA to deal with tax & accounting matters and brought other Advisors into the circle to create a wealth of knowledge and ideas to draw from.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. “
Over the years, smart team building has allowed me to build and lead a 25-member ensemble team of talented professionals consisting of word-smiths, customer service gurus, tax specialists, analysts, life and business coaches, insurance planners, asset managers, accountants and succession planners, top-notch estate & business planning attorneys as well as retirement and charitable planning specialists. The opportunities are endless and the team doesn’t end there. A doctor client who is a leading expert in oncology becomes a team member when another client needs a referral for a recent diagnosis. A client who is retired from construction but bored becomes a team member when another recently widowed client, needs things done around the house. I never know where my next team member will come from, but I’m always looking.
Bert Cooper is a Registered Principal of Williams Financial Group of Peoria AZ with additional branch offices in Chandler AZ, Albuquerque NM & Castle Rock CO.
Securities offered through WFG Investments Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC, Investment Advisory Services offered through WFG Advisors, LP
RELATED PRODUCTS & EDUCATION
Below are a number of products and education programs related to this topic that might be of interest to you:
- Get More Estate Planning Attorneys to Refer Qualified, Motivated, and Pre-Closed Clients to You (for Financial Advisors)
- Successful Referral Relationships that Actually Work! (for Estate Planning Attorneys)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bert A. Cooper, CES is a registered principal for Williams Financial Group out of Peoria, Arizona. He has been servicing clients and their financial planning needs for over 14 years, with his practice focusing on all of the necessary estate planning components, including tax, legal, insurance, and financial planning under one roof. In 2007, and for a second year in a row, Bert Cooper was selected among 4000 wealth managers as one of “The Most Dependable Wealth Managers of the West” by Goldline Research, an independent third-party list research and publishing company and was published in the December 24, 2007 issue of Forbes Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (623) 583-6840.