From the March 2008 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

A Step-by-Step Guide

As a long-time managing director at Merrill Lynch in Colorado, David Mullen hired and trained more than 500 advisors. His training program was considered superior to industry norms and his techniques have been adopted by managers and advisors throughout the country. He is known for his career in training, retaining and motivating financial advisors.

In his new book, The Million Dollar Financial Practice, Mullen culls what he's learned and what he taught throughout his career in an easy-to-follow book aimed at both neophyte advisors entering the industry and veterans wanting to kick their business up a notch or two.

Mullen reveals the five characteristics of million-dollar producers:1. They set business and activity goals and track their progress.2. They are motivated.3. They market relentlessly.4. They manage their time effectively.5. They make establishing relationships with affluent individuals their first priority.

Indeed, he writes that million-dollar producers do not possess any extraordinary skills.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 is about building the foundation, which happens in the first two years of the advisor's career. "During this stage, the advisor should spend the majority of his time on marketing," writes Mullen. Advisors should build a book of 50 client relationships and a prospect pipeline of 100. Seventy percent of the advisor's time should be spent marketing.

Stage 2 runs from the third to fifth year of business when the advisor must balance client service with marketing. Mullen writes that the advisor should have 100 client relationships and 100 or more prospects. "The advisor should spend 50 percent of her time on marketing," he writes.

Stage 3 is beyond five years. "The advisor should continue to upgrade the 100 client relationships throughout his career," he writes. The advisor should spend 25 percent of his time on marketing and see at least one new prospect per week.

Mullen believes that an advisor at any stage of his or her career can commit to building a million-dollar practice. "The fastest and easiest way (to make this happen) is to take the proper steps at the beginning," he writes. "As your practice grows, the fundamentals remain the same." Mullen believes that with the right focus and motivation, a new advisor can expect to reach a million-dollar practice within 10 years from starting, increasing his or her business $100,000 per year.

In the foundation section of the book Mullen focuses on niche marketing, getting the first appointment (that leads to a second and beyond), what to do in these appointments and turning prospects into clients. For instance, Mullen writes: "Under no circumstances make a presentation on the first appointment. The second appointment is when you present your wealth-management process and indicate what an investment experience with you would be like."

In section two, Mullen divulges proven ways to take an advisory practice to the next level. One way: getting more assets from existing clients. The first step is to discover these assets through an annual planning session. He suggests developing a specific strategy for bringing in these assets. For instance, by finding ways to reduce plans, coming up with ideas for better performance or simplifying the client's life by having all of her assets in one place. Further, Mullen believes it's possible to expand the client relationship by adding products and services that don't compete with the portfolio, including annuities, life insurance, and long-term-care insurance.

What sets The Million Dollar Financial Services Practice apart from other books geared for advisors it its inclusion of templates, scripts and letters that readers can use as well. Plus, the information on marketing, prospecting, sales and time management techniques are presented clearly and in great detail. The book is one advisors will refer to often.\

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Mary Scott is the co-author of Companies with a Conscience and can be reached at maryscott303@comcast.net.

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