"The best way to grow our business is to help our advisors grow theirs," says Joel Marks, referring to the reps of Advanced Equities Financial Corp.'s broker/dealers--First Allied Securities and FFP Securities. Sure, other B/D execs would speak similarly, but Marks, vice chairman and COO of Advanced Equities, says the firm has developed that pledge into a holistic business development program called NextGen designed to drive "same-store sales for each advisor" based on that advisor's unique business profile and personal goals. The in-house program is being run by a new 12-person independent unit at the home office called the NextGen Strategic Business Group (SBG). The program begins with "NextGen Universities" held in serious academic settings including Duke University and Carnegie-Mellon. "These are not sales conferences," Marks stresses, "this is work; we're going back to school." NextGen U will provide everything from "practice management 101," says Marks, on "business planning and setting goals, to coaching resources and business profiling of your book, data mining your customer base, lead generation, and how to market your practice," to advanced insurance and wealth management strategies. On campus, the reps get a minimum of 30 hours of serious training, and post-conference get the necessary follow-up support from the SBG staff.
More than 200 advisors out of Advanced Equities' nearly 900 reps signed up for the first University to be held in June at Duke, reports Adam Antoniades, president of First Allied and Advanced Equities.
After the advisors get out of school, Marks says they'll be tracked: "We expect productivity gains within three to six months." There's another way to measure the program's success: Advanced Equities thinks it may well see an uptick in its recruiting efforts as the NextGen word gets out.