From the August 2012 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Pursuing Practice Excellence: The Conversation

At Investment Advisor, we like to think that we do a pretty good job covering practice management. By “we” I mean, for instance, Mark Tibergien, Angie Herbers, Bob Clark, Tom Giachetti, Olivia Mellan and Dan Skiles, all of whom contribute their experience, wisdom and insight each month. I also count our freelancers who report on practice management issues, and our regular contributors and research partners, such as Joni Youngwirth of Commonwealth and Dan Inveen and Eliza DePardo of FA Insight, and Guggenheim Investments (nee Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking) on AdvisorOne.com.

But over a year ago, in conversations with ActiFi’s Spenser Segal and Brian Stimpfl, we realized that despite all that wisdom, there was a rather basic practice management gap that hadn’t been addressed. We set out to remedy that by asking advisors what they needed and wanted in terms of practice management assistance. We also interviewed the individuals responsible for practice management programs at advisors’ partner firms.

We didn’t stop there, however. When you perform your due diligence on money managers, after you analyze the data and understand the investment process, you also want to know the people behind the process. During the interview process, we identified four individuals who could explore what the survey numbers revealed, and we invited them to an all-day, in-person roundtable in Chicago. The result of that conversation is the cover story this month.

We knew these four individuals had achieved success at their firms in providing practice management help to advisors. We knew they had strong opinions about what works and what doesn’t. We knew they competed directly and indirectly with each other. What we didn’t know was how well they could achieve consensus while disagreeing with each other, how strongly they were committed, not just to their own firms’ success, but to the advisors who affiliated with their firms. They share passion tempered by common sense; knowledge moderated by intellectual curiosity; and a strong commitment to meeting the needs of their clients.

We embarked on this project with ActiFi out of a shared desire to define practice management, identify your needs and encourage your partners to build programs that meet those needs. We also wanted to prompt you to take advantage of what your partners offer now while demanding services that you identified as important. We hope we’ve contributed to this conversation, going “beyond the buzzwords” of practice management. We invite you to read the cover story and part three of our Pursuing Practice Excellence study in this issue. We also encourage you to view our roundtable participants’ videos on AdvisorOne.com, look at the data from the survey, and become part of that practice management conversation with your partners. You, your clients, your family and, yes, your partners, will only benefit from having that conversation; “turning the page,” as Jim Komoszewski wrote to me following the meeting, “in the way practice management is viewed, defined and addressed.”

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