August 23, 2012

Align Your Time and Energy, Advisor, With Your Purpose

Think about why you became a financial advisor. What is the purpose of your practice? 

If you are like most financial advisors, you didn’t choose this route so you could develop and deploy the latest and greatest back-end IT solutions or plan the smallest details of your next client appreciation seminar. You chose this profession because you enjoy your clients. You enjoy solving challenges, reducing anxiety and fear and helping people achieve and succeed. 

From my perspective, I see the purpose of your business as providing financial solutions to meet your clients’ needs: making a difference in their lives. You also want to enjoy your own financial and professional success. Would you spend more time dedicated to your purpose if you could spend less time running every aspect of your business? 

There may very well be a way to achieve those goals: outsourcing one or more functions that require specialized expertise that may not reside in your business and you are unlikely to hire. Outsourcing certain capabilities can be just as important to your business as how well you personally serve the client. 

For example, when you go to the doctor, you go because she was either a referral or because she is qualified within her specialty. Somehow, you’ve developed confidence in her judgment through the degrees earned, through other patients and through her research and published articles. When you visit the doctor and she draws blood, she doesn’t immediately disappear into the lab to process the results. She packages it and sends it to a lab especially for the purpose of achieving that analysis. She’s outsourcing this service to specialists who efficiently send back a detailed analysis. The same is true of radiology or physical therapy—you do not lose any confidence in the doctor because you are referred out for particular services. Rather, it is the doctor’s way of managing the client service to better understand the issues and deliver desired outcomes. 

If you choose to do everything in your business yourself, you may not be able to do everything that is needed for your client. Going back to the doctor analogy, this is why, in certain instances, your doctor may send you to a radiology lab. A doctor doesn’t want to do everything and actually realizes that doing everything diminishes patient service and even creates liability. So when she orders a scan, she relies on the radiologist, a specialist, to interpret the results and provide an understanding of the cause of your symptoms. This is not unlike our business, where there’s a responsibility for putting client interests first, with managing the money and a heightened standard of ongoing due diligence. 

Doctors are professional service providers caring for clients, much like you. Typically, they want to run bigger, more efficient practices. They add staff and internal resources, and the best ones leverage third-party specialist providers. They work smarter, not harder. 

What outsourced services do advisors seek? That depends on their strengths and resources. For some advisors, outsourcing asset management or back-end operations may allow them to scale operations and devote more time to client management. There is a growing trend in this area: 31% of advisory firms outsource asset and investment management services, and another 21% are considering it, according to the Genworth Wealth Management Quantuvis Best Practices Study: Business Performance, 2009. Outsourcing these and other business functions—such as IT and even human resources—can increase your business’ capacity and revenue. 

Because of my diverse background, I tend to see everything as analogies and look at everything through the lens of business process. I encourage you to do the same: examine your business as a set of processes and see where it makes sense to do things in house. From that perspective, you’d probably consider it a poor practice to create a process on which you can’t make money and, yet, so many advisors do exactly this. Outsourcing, in my opinion, gives you more opportunity to work with people, build lasting relationships and make a difference in your clients’ lives. 

As a CEO it’s no different for me. I strive to live this concept in my work by constantly leveraging my team. And I think the key to making our company a great partner is aligning our objectives with those of the advisors who work with us: people like you. Ultimately, we both want to make a difference in investors’ lives and grow our businesses in the process. We believe in serving those who make a positive difference for their clients. 

What is the purpose of your practice?

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