Industry Leaders on Practice Management: Differentiation and Coaching

We convened with four industry experts in June to hash out the results of our groundbreaking Pursuing Practice Excellence study

The panelists discuss the industry perspective on practice management. The panelists discuss the industry perspective on practice management.

As part of AdvisorOne-ActiFi's Pursuing Practice Excellence research on advisor practice management, on June 13 we gathered four industry leaders to explore the findings of the research. The August 2012 Investment Advisor cover story provided highlights of that conversation, and our three-part series of articles addressed the specific findings from 1) a survey of 954 advisors; 2) an online survey and telephone interviews with 52 executives and consultants from across the industry who run practice management programs, and 3) an analysis of the gaps between the advisor portion of the survey and the industry leaders.

To extend that conversation to advisors' benefit, on AdvisorOne we are providing transcripts of the roundtable, which was moderated by Jamie Green and John Sullivan of Investment Advisor and AdvisorOne, and Spenser Segal and Brian Stimpfl of ActiFi.

The four panelists at the in-person discussion in Chicago were David Patchen of Raymond James, Kim Dellarocca of Pershing, Kirk Hulett of Securities America and Jim Komoszewski of Investment Centers of America.

The focus of this article is on what the panelists believe actually works in practice management programs, specifically on how advisors can differentiate themselves, and the role of coaches in practice management success. 

Jamie Green, Investment Advisor: One of the findings [from the industry leader part of the study] that I think is interesting is that these industry leaders say their firms are actually going to increase their budgets when it comes to practice management. Maybe customization is a better term for how you’re delivering the services. Is it not so much that the solutions aren’t there, but how do you get the advisors to buy into it?

David Patchen, Raymond James Financial ServicesDavid Patchen, Raymond James Financial Services: I’m surprised that [Jim Komoszewski] would think that people are leading with solutions. That’s foreign to everything we know as salespeople, marketers, promoters. You want to ask and understand; seek first to understand and then be understood. When we started building these things, [we were] corporate guys and gals trying to give solutions to talented advisors. Who was signing up for that? Our top advisors weren’t signing up nine years ago. So step one is you have to do some one-on-one work, which we do extensively similar to what you described, Jim. There are 41 offices that I coach one-on-one right now. It’s been as high as 50.

I really like Jim’s theme about how the corporate higher-ups struggle with coaching. Where we started was smaller advisors who said, “I need help. I don’t want to pay for an outside coach. Would you help me?” And we have, all of us that do one-on-one work, we have a remarkable contingent of advisors [for whom] we’ve changed their lives.

Jamie attended our national conference in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, which is a pretty big production, much like Schwab’s and TD Waterhouse’s. We have top advisor sessions. These folks go into a room and they talk. A young man, John Vance in Valencia, California, is our first real early success story. [He went] from $100,000 to almost $1.2 million now, $10 million in assets to $120 million in assets. He is a machine. The beauty of coaching, where this all comes together, is there’s a culture of sharing. They don’t want the same stuff. The partner firms—we all love them, they’re our partners, they’re helpful—but that stuff is available to everybody. That’s not unique. It doesn’t differentiate your offering from other firms’. What differentiates your offering from other firms’ from a tools and tactics standpoint is what your specific talented top advisors are doing that’s working and that they are willing to share it. That’s where we’ve seen the [Zen Advisor Program] blossom and spread.

Some people want the one-on-one, and some people do want just solutions. I argue with Dave Lee [director of practice management for RJFS] about this all the time: I’m such a believer that absent the one-on-one work, they’re doing malpractice to themselves in some cases. But you know independence means, in some cases, “Leave me the heck alone!” If I can leave that person the heck alone knowing they have access to a repository of great tools, I’d rather give them the access and let them do what they want with it. Do I think it’s less than what they could do in working with you or me? Yes, but nonetheless, I want to give them their freedom to choose.

Kim Dellarocca, PershingKim Dellarocca, Pershing: I wear two hats: the strategic marketing part of our organization and the practice management piece. It goes to the basics of giving people what they want and how they want it. I think the next generation actually are in favor of things like webinars. I hosted one recently on the topic of women in investing and felt for the first time like Oprah. I was taking questions all afternoon and it really rewarding. The point is that the information was spread. I asked every advisor on that call—there were about 300—to do one thing: to go back to their books and take a look and say, “If something happens to him, would she call you?” I guarantee you most of the 300 did that. That is good for their business, and it was an outcome that we achieved.

At Pershing, we shifted the whole organization of the firm to be a leader in practice management so it’s not just the group that I manage that does this. The way we’ve achieved scale is, if the relationship managers at Pershing’s Advisors Solutions do it, we focus their role. Relationship managers, day-in, day-out, are serving advisors in this kind of coaching capacity. Our technology people don’t just deliver technology or mobile [applications] without thinking, “How can I make this actionable? How can I make this useful?” Prospective advisors are really good at sleuthing out when it’s [a practice management program] about the custodian or the clearing firm, when it’s about your wallet or there’s some big check being waved around. The classic “you grow, we grow,” that language makes my stomach curl because I’ve been serving advisors for 15 years and no firm looked the same to me. No broker-dealer looks the same to me, and we take every client seriously.

It alarms me the amount of people who want a seat at the table with the advisor who are all coming forth with the same types of programs. Similar to some of the remarks that David just made, there is no such thing as a commodity business because you always have the chance to differentiate based on the experience that is created and how people feel afterwards and the emotional connection that they have. Where there may be just so many ways of talking about good PR strategies, there are unlimited ways [of talking] about helping an advisor execute that in the fashion that’s appropriate for their demographics, that’s appropriate for their lifestyle, for their practice. We see that it’s really important to have a seat at the table of our clients' businesses. If not, we’re just one of the trades, and where’s the value in that?

Patchen: Amen to that! This is job security for all of us. There are really two types of practice management people: There are people that are very conceptual and there are people that can sit down and talk some serious shop. Part of the reason I do the group work is the group work is designed to cause discomfort. I always have a smaller faction that is deeper into the material and sharing their successes. Then the newbies to the workshop are saying, “There might be something to this. Maybe I should engage Dave or other members of his team in one-on-one relationships.” You do create the discomfort, create the need and that’s how you continue to build the one-on-one stable moving forward.

Brian Stimpfl, ActiFi: You’re in a unique vantage point in that so many broker-dealer clients will come to you and say “You know, Kim, we really don’t have much in the way of practice management. We want to get something going.” What advice do you give to the broker-dealer that maybe hasn’t developed any sort of significant practice management capabilities as to how to approach it? How do you support them?

Dellarocca: That’s a great question. We’re really proud of the support that we offer our advisors. We deliver it for all of our clients so a large broker-dealer can white-label our offering. They can use it as a great starting point. We’re not trying to be all things to all people, so we’re focused on growth, organic and inorganic sources of growth, operational efficiency, human capital, [being a] great place to work and managing risk. That’s kind of where we hang our hat. Many of our broker-dealers also have advisors who are struggling with those challenges, and they are able to white-label and use our offering. They are able to put their brand on it.

Stimpfl: What’s your advice to them?

Patchen: And if I could layer a question on top of that, from your experience, which of those do you find the most challenging of the areas of expertise that you mentioned? Which are you finding advisors are having the most difficulty executing? There’s one that you said that stands out in my mind as challenging, and I’d love to hear from Jim and Kirk as well.

Dellarocca: So I’m going to say it’s around human capital.

Patchen: Thank you. Exactly.

Dellarocca: It’s really the shift of getting advisors to think of themselves; to rebrand practice management as business management. We at Pershing believe this: We need to help advisors move from being great practitioners. The mentoring aspect isn’t just to help more people in Raymond James or in your organization thrive, it would be to also give these folks some personal legacy. I think that the reason succession planning is still such an issue is that nobody wants to think about these things. Who wants to think about death and dying? We all carry around a certain amount of hubris. What people might want to think about instead is not retiring but rewiring. How can they rewire as a leader, as a mentor, as somebody who just doesn’t close their laptop someday and walk out, or cut the cake and leave their clients and associates and a lot of other people in some pretty vulnerable situations? [How can they rewire] as somebody who can transition themselves to leadership? If when we talk about the future, we saw a [theme] emerge for us, it would be around management and leadership, which is an off-shoot of human capital. Advisors can’t go it alone. They need great teams.

What stands out for me in the [Pursuing Practice Excellence] research is if you look at the gap analysis. What struck me here is that the gap for when the advisors have rated somebody at a higher level of importance than the industry leaders, it’s usually around something that’s a quick fix. It’s something that’s going to drive immediate revenue of the short term. What I think we all have an obligation to do is to help them see the longer term in becoming a good business person. These things aren’t fun to do—client segmentation, efficiency, understanding benchmarks, succession planning—not fun at all and very long-term in nature, but it’s our job as an industry to blow on the nerves of the advisors because these are things that are going to help their team and ultimately going to help the investors. The investor doesn’t need another ding in confidence and in trust; and without advisors having these things baked and focusing on business continuity—not sales planning, not succession planning, but business continuity and growth planning—the investors ultimately are at risk.

The things that the advisors wanted to focus on were very short-term, had a higher revenue appeal, where what we want to do at Pershing is, we want that seat at the table. That seat at the table is our eyes and ears in what brokers-dealers need, what advisors needs and what investors need. We also think it’s our obligation [to do these] kinds of things because we think supporting the industry is really important.

This is an important industry. Investors need help managing their finances. There’s a little bit of a trend toward do-it-yourself [in investing] as you know some people were outdoing advisors in the recent market. But what we want to see is the succession, is the continuity of this profession. How do we attract great people...great young people into it? It’s got to be more appealing than the eye-rolling that goes on around Wall Street and financial services right now. We’ve got to do something about that.

We’re advocates for great business in America and around the globe. We’re doing quite a bit of work globally, but supporting businesses, supporting job creation, it’s all part of this. We try to take out that co-serving element. We don’t wave big checks around; we just try to focus on what’s good for the investor, what’s good for the advisors and what good for our broker-dealers.

Green: Kirk, we have to have you weigh in.

Kirk Hulett, Securities AmericaKirk Hulett, Securities America: There are a lot of threads to pick up on here. One, we do total diagnostics and I believe you have to customize it; you have to do the diagnostic. The reason to throw out the solutions is it’s a hook. It’s a hook to get the advisors interested, to have that conversation that leads to the diagnostic. That has some value [in] building credibility, especially with advisors. Throwing out those solutions builds up credibility, opens up the opportunity for conversation.

We try to get to a little bit of scalability by straddling both the customized and the programmatic. We have a very successful program that gets as good results as our customized one-on-one by saying, “Here’s 30 tactics. Most of them are business management tactics.” And they’re standard business management tactics that a dentist office, a manufacturing plant and an advisor would find beneficial. And then we pair that with one-on-one coaching. So we go through the 30 tactics over a couple of workshops, but every two weeks they’re working with their coach one-on-one. They can decide how to assemble those 30 tactics in cooperation with their coach that best fit the needs of their practice. They don’t have to do every one of them. They don’t have to do them in the order we prescribe because we don’t prescribe an order. They can decide how to assemble those themselves. We found that as a way to scale.

We found that as a way to also get advisors in the room and hearing each other because the best advocates for practice management from the institution are the advisors who participated in the programs. When one advisor hears another advisor talking about it, versus me standing on the stage at our national conference last week talking about it, they’re going to listen to that advisor before they listen to me.

Green: One of the gaps we saw was in how advisors and their partners see particularly the wholesalers. Advisors report that they have a very good and deep relationship with their wholesalers. Some of the rest of you, including third-party coaches, are seen as less valuable. Any thoughts on why this might be?

Jim Komoszewski, Investment Centers of AmericaJim Komoszewski, Investment Centers of America: I’m going to make a disparaging remark about [this finding]; just know that I was [a wholesaler] for 10 years, so it gives me license. This was disturbing to me, but I think it speaks volumes to my comment about leading with solutions. I don’t think any of us are. I think generally the industry is and we get diluted in that system. When people hear “practice management,” they don’t think of the four of us who are doing things diagnostically, assessment evaluations, etc. They instead think I’m saying, “I’ve got a toolkit. Here’s a link. Good luck.”

Product wholesalers can only go in and say, “I have a 5% guaranteed income stream for life if you pick one of these six models,” so many times before the rep says, “Come back when you have something interesting.”

When it comes to the product wholesaler, I think it comes back to them delivering it because it’s free—because the wholesaler is around consistently and it’s not threatening. The wholesaler is not telling them, “You have to get your sales to this [level].”

Dellarocca: At Pershing, the fund partners are some of our most important clients and partners. [They are] great resources for advisors who are looking to go independent. Those leads, those tips come from those relationships that they have with the wholesaler. We see them as really important, and you saw the partnership that we provide with them at conferences and so on. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them. We’re building relationships with that influencer as another angle in terms of recruiting advisors and helping our broker-dealers do the same.

Patchen: And they are key. When we create our Practice Intelligence workshops, they [partners like wholesalers] are intimately involved in helping us with content, obviously providing talented, capable speakers, so I would agree they’re invaluable in the process.

There are inconsistencies across the stable of wholesalers. There are some people that are really talented and are great at practice management—the people who grow up to be Jims {Komoszewski]. And then there are people who really just want to sell product. That inconsistency is challenging when they visit with us and we love something that they’ve developed; but in one marketplace there’s really great penetration and results, and in the next marketplace they’re not even talking about it.

I think they’re offering two things. They’re offering the sales idea that feels good to hear. It probably has a very low implementation rate, but it’s a tasty little morsel—it’s not really sustainable. The other thing I think they offer is that they’re very much an informal network because as those wholesalers travel their circuit, they are sharing information about what they see at the other offices. So you get the “What’s the guy down the street doing? What are other advisors talking about and doing right now?” It’s their informal way of benchmarking, and I think advisors really like that. I would rather get the advisors in a room, in a structured session that has some accountability, that has some follow up and implementation to it, but I think that’s part of why those product wholesalers are ranking so high.

Dellarocca: Do you think the product wholesalers have to watch their credibility issue? Something that we all have to be careful of is when we make product a bad word that we don’t go too far with that. We all need really great investment strategies, and our advisors need access to the markets and access to markets in unique ways. On one hand, I want to tell them, “Don’t go down this overly crowded path of talking about flat referrals and family governance. Don’t forget to talk about why investing strategies in a low interest rate environment makes sense.” At the end of the day, an advisor is graded by his clients. He’s going to get more business based on how his performance is in terms of the investment portfolio, not because he’s got the smoothest running practice.

I sat on a mutual fund panel a year or so ago. We had 15 top advisors on our Pershing Advisors Solutions Advisor Council, and I called them and said, “What would make you come out of your office?” They said “Tell me something I don’t know. I’m not coming out of my office for a client referral seminar, but I’ll come out of my office if you tell me about a hedge strategy that I know nothing about.” There’s an element, too, of being good at what you’re good at. It’s about focusing on where you can have competitive advantage. Any broker-dealer in the world, we want to help them take the cost out of their business. They don’t have to build capacity for trading desks and clearing; there are all kinds of nuts and bolts on the solution side that we build. They can partner with us to do that on more variable levels. When broker-dealers develop a practice management program, it’s one of the most important things they can do because of the touch and relationship that gets built with the advisor.

Patchen: As a clearing firm, I would think that’s a very big value add. Now does the broker-dealer know this? Does the broker-dealer know that coming in? Jamie saw me do the presentation I did in the general session room in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. The title was “Why They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know.” I geared that toward investor clients because my audience is financial advisors, but the same can be said for financial advisors and broker-dealers. How much information do you not even know you don’t know when you’re sitting down at the table? Do broker-dealers highly value practice management enough to be different, seeing your service and offering in that space as a differentiator versus other clearing firms?

Komoszewski: I think it boils down to another thing, too, which is the source of the practice management information. Our credibility is probably diminished somewhat in the industry because wholesalers are carrying practice management titles to a certain extent. When you ask an advisor, “What’s your perception of practice management?” the advisor says, “I’ve been through this. I went through that. I got that binder,” and the wholesaler comes in and says, “Here’s a free ham sandwich and two hours of CE. By the way, here’s a best practice strategy.” It’s far different from what we’re doing.

One of the most critical things for us to do, particularly at broker-dealers, is to brand our programs very, very strongly. How I did that at NPC was to say, “I’m going to offer a program that’s fully comprehensive and follow it from the assessment through the establishment of your individual goals through a custom process. We’ll walk you through implementation. We’ll get you through execution. We’ll set up quarterly monitoring and adjustments. We’ll adjust accordingly and we’ll re-evaluate in one year from now as a continuum.” That’s why I call the program “Pursuit” because a best practice is an ongoing pursuit. When we’re coming in as product wholesalers, we’re just hitting one spot, one teeny, tiny spot. We’re not really doing much good for practice management.

Another thing that I did when I was at NPC was I hired experts. My definition of an expert is someone who’s been in that capacity in our industry for 20 years or more. I had a technology expert who used to be CIO at one of our competitors; did all the technology, Redtail [CRM software] implementation. Advisors knew that when they were talking to somebody on a particular topic, they were talking to a seasoned, experienced expert, not a wholesaler.

Dellarocca: This is what you’re talking about here, the coaching relationship. Advisors are just going to say, “Give me the education and the coaching.” I think about it like losing weight. Do you want to show up and go to Weight Watchers every week and fail? Jamie and I have really deep philosophical conversations and he says the best religious conversions aren’t people that just read the Bible or know that the Bible is out there. It’s the power of other people holding you accountable and having to show up. If you just show up every Wednesday with your Weight Watcher book and sit on that scale, you’re not going to eat bagels for a week prior. You know you’re going to stick to it.

Patchen: There’s no magic bullet, and coaching is difficult. Coaching makes you uncomfortable; it asks you to take risks. It is hard to do, but when advisors come out the other side and see those results, we ask them, “What was the biggest benefit from a coaching relationship?” They’ll have 35% to 40% increased revenue, and they’re very thrilled about that. They’ll say, “It was the accountability, accountability, accountability. I didn’t have that before. I have it now. It allowed me to focus. It allowed me to pick high-priority activities, not things that were distracting.”

One point real quick, and you can call me Captain Cliché, is what some call the downside of independence. Advisors in some cases going independent are moving away from something rather than moving toward something. Part of what they’re moving away from is an onerous manager or supervisor and they don’t want accountability for all the wrong reasons. They aren’t tapping into so much of the coaching and accountability that’s out there. Ideas are ideas. Execution is actually taking actions that are going to change the business and change the results.

Dellarocca: Advisors aren’t losing the accountability function because we tooled our whole business around it. We’re real clear on our value proposition. We only work with growth-minded firms. We expect our clients are going to have some skin in the game in order to take advantage of these programs. Obviously, they can quarterback the service solutions, but they’re people who run RIA firms. The type of the person we hire is very different. You really have to be a firm that is committed to growth. Lifestyle firms, firms that just want to peter off into the sunset, are not for Pershing Advisors.

Patchen: To bean counters, revenue is revenue. I think it’s a macro topic, this measurement thing. It’s advisor count. In the nine years since we started the [Raymond James practice management] program, we’ve gone from 3,700 independent advisors to 3,200. We’ve doubled production, we’ve doubled assets, we’ve doubled revenue. But revenue is production. We’ve doubled advisor production per advisor. Obviously they’re correlated. So is the firm more valuable now? You would think dramatically more valuable, right? Twice the output from the fewer people? But Wall Street analysts value broker-dealers primarily by headcount. So we need to help the industry help itself and start to really dig into productivity in order for our roles to be elevated and practice management to take on the same perceived impact as recruiting.

Spenser Segal, ActiFiSpenser Segal, ActiFi: On the recruiting side, it’s a pretty clearly defined, well-established formula. If I’m the CEO of XYZ broker-dealer, I know I put “X” dollars in, I get “Y” dollars out. I’ve got 10 years of data. It varies and so forth, but it’s a proven, steady formula. That maturity doesn’t exist in practice management.

If I’m a business-oriented, sales-oriented CEO who’s accountable to a group of shareholders as to where I spend my money, if I’ve got certainty over my recruiting dollars and less certainty over here [in practice management], I’m going to take the path of least resistance. I think part of the role that you all play is being able to put some of those models in place and we want to capture that and prove it going forward.

Dellarocca: What makes me sad though, Spenser, is that I talk to lots of advisors contemplating meeting their broker-dealer to go independent, and they often say to me, “I really love my broker-dealer, I just don’t know why I pay them $300,000 or $500,000 a year.”

The conversation about changing your business model shouldn’t impugn all the great things that a broker-dealer does. It shouldn’t be when the advisor is at your door saying, “I’m thinking about going independent.” They should know from the day they enter your firm all the great things that you do, and these programs would have more value if the connection was made sooner.

I do have a question for all of you. When we talk about accountability, what do you think about this cost, do we have to have – is it just really somebody ringing the phone and saying “Hey, did you do that this week?” Are they paying for it?

Patchen: We absolutely believe they have to be paying for coaching. Coaching has value so we do have fees for our coaching programs. We have given away the coaching for free in the past. The advice and support was valued at the amount they paid for it, and there was zero implementation. When we began charging a fee, a nominal fee, but a fee, we saw significant implementation.

Dellarocca: And the rest of the off-the-shelf type programs that are available?

Hulett: What do you mean off-the-shelf program?

Dellarocca: Guide books or toolkits.

Hulett: Those things are absolutely free. They can go on our internal website for advisors. They can get tools, templates, forms and all that, and that’s all free, but we absolutely charge. I won’t say what we charge [but it's] thousands of dollars. They get a custom, one-on-one coaching program for six months. It’s very comprehensive. I believe also in accountability and it being inherent by working with a coach one-on-one. When I talk to them about how we’ve got to get your operations manager to finish their standard operations procedures manual, they know they’re going to talk to me next Tuesday, so they have to have that done. What I won’t do, even though they’re paying me, is I won’t say, “Did you get that done yet?”

When I’m dealing with people one-on-one, I have to be part coach, part consultant. That’s where the accountability factor comes in. The consulting part says, “You should do this and these are the reasons why.” The coach part says, “The reason why is because these were your goals you set out. I’m trying to keep you on track.” Why am I working harder at your goals than you are at your own goals?

I had one of our largest reps come to me and say, “Why don’t you go ahead and send me the paperwork? I’m 99% sure that I want to work with you.” And I said “With all due respect, I won’t work with you. I’m not going to be able to help you to the extent that I can because you have some uncertainty, albeit 1%. When you come back to me and say ‘I’m 100% for sure’ in this, then I’ll do it,” because that’s where the accountability comes in. It’s inherent. It’s intrinsic; it has to come from them by saying “I believe 100% wholeheartedly in this program.”

The other thing I do is start out every conversation by saying, “I will always be on time for everything we do. No. 2, I will never have my Blackberry on or emails or anything else. My cell phone, everything will be off. You will have 100% of my dedication and my focus. No. 3, I will always give you all of the follow-up items when we mutually agreed upon; you’ll most likely get them earlier.” And I go down the list. Then I tell them, “I’ll give you a rounding error. Your clock is five minutes off; I’m on this phone waiting for you until five after. At six after, I’m hanging up. You forfeit the call. You just wasted X amount of dollars. I expect your Blackberry to be off, I expect you to be engaged.” And I end it with “The reason for this is this is your practice. This is a partnership, but it is for your benefit. The second I’m working harder at your personal and professional goals than you are, I’m not helping you anymore. You don’t get a refund.” That accountability starts from that very, very first call because they realize that it’s on them. I tell them, “You will benefit from this program to the extent that you choose to.”

Dellarocca: I guess the question I asked was more about establishing willingness to pay for it, and once that’s established, how do you find the best provider? Another flip question I’m going to ask is if this offering that used to make firms stand out is now as regular as having technology or anything else you could offer?

Komoszewski: Some of things that came to my mind when I was building my program at NPC were who’s going to care to put more time, energy and sweat equity into an NTC rep? We have a very vested interest in their growth, in their relationship, the retention. We have an intimate understanding about the broker-dealer itself.

I’m amazed--and I hope you guys are too--at the thousands and thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars that our advisors pay to participate in coaching or consulting programs where they sit in a hotel lobby next to a dentist and a lawyer and a guy who owns a restaurant. Are you kidding me? This is a very specific industry and we need specific answers to specific problems, and they need to have solutions. Not only do we understand the industry really well, we understand our broker-dealer.

Lastly, if I have a rep who’s struggling in an area and I have one that’s really successful, I can either share those stories or set up a call and bring those two individuals together. I want to go on the record by saying I’ve never told anyone how to use me. I’ve encouraged many to use other programs. I can’t remember [who], maybe all of you, have said that the most important thing [advisors can do] is to do something. Use us, use somebody else, but just do something. And that’s really all ultimately what we’re after.

Hulett: I can piggy-back on that. In the broker-dealer programs, not only can people liaison and understand the regulatory and compliance [issues] that others may not, but I feel that we can also take the technology tools that we offer and better integrate that into the workflow and operational processes of the advisors affiliated with us.

I think that’s a distinct advantage. Same on the advisory side. What are the aspects of our advisory platform that we’ll be able to consult on, be experts on that someone outside is not? We can offer success pricing so that as an advisor builds their business on the broker-dealer’s advisory platform, we can actually provide a refund back on the subscription fees or the consulting fees that they pay us so it creates rewards that are beneficial to the advisor and beneficial to the broker-dealer at the same time.

Patchen: The question was how are we unique? Why are we different? Why should they use us?

Dellarocca: First, if they have the choice and we established that there’s a willingness to pay, why you versus someone on the street?

Patchen: Well, a point of differentiation: We don’t charge a fee for our program at present at Raymond James, so I couldn’t answer the question in that context. I would tell you, though, we believe in fit. There are several factors to fit. One of them, certainly, is connection and communication, style of communication, ability to gain clarity, trust and strategy. If those five pillars are part of what’s coming out of a coaching relationship, I think fit and connection are as important as anything else. 

Visit our Pursuing Practice Excellence home page for additional reporting, data and insights into this study.

View our roundtable transcript on AdvisorOne on the leaders' roles in advisor sales and marketing.

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