As the president of Battaglia Tax Advisory Group Inc. in Largo, Fla., Brenda Battaglia is busy. Really busy. When she’s not calling on her clients, she’s working with her staff to cook up new ways technology can work for her – and her clients. “I’m not tech savvy,” Battaglia says. “I just know what I want technology to do for me.”
Last year, Battaglia’s company (which also boasts a tax advisory arm – U.S. Tax Advisors) generated $20 million in revenue – and it’s on track to exceed that number this year. Battaglia’s Advisory Group does it all: life insurance, long term care, annuities, Medicare supplements, stocks and bonds (through U.S. Tax Advisors).
It’s not all work for this super producer. Balance is a key to her success. On holidays Battaglia can be found trekking across Europe or skiing in Aspen. Or, possibly, dropping from the sky on a hang glider. Battaglia has a wicked case of wanderlust. “My entire family travels. That’s what we do together. It’s how I stay balanced.”
Battaglia is modest about her success and credits her mother (who is never far from Battaglia), her kids and her clients for her success. “They keep me grounded and they keep me real.”
SMA sat down with Battaglia to find out the secrets to her success.
Senior Market Advisor: Seniors make up a large portion of your book of business – 60 percent. What attracted you to the senior segment?
Brenda Battaglia: I started out in the Medicare supplement business, which is a senior business. I liked the industry right off the bat. I liked that market right off the bat. I was very close to my grandparents growing up, so I decided to continue in that industry. I work very well with seniors.
SMA: What segments makes up the other 40 percent of your book of business?
BB: I would say baby boomers and referrals – basically the children of my seniors. I consider my clients to be family members. We get so many referrals from our existing clients to their family members.
SMA: What are you doing to encourage the referral part of your business?
BB: I think it is the presentation of our firm. Consistency. Relationships. Just building relationships with clients is very important. Following through with what you say and treating them with the utmost respect.
SMA: Walk me through your sales process that potential clients go through.
BB: Clients come into our firm for an initial appointment. We try and find out as much about that person as we can. We do what is called a “client fact finding” to learn about their goals or objectives. Then we find out about their financial position, what type of investments they have. What is their risk tolerance, their safety tolerance? Income is very important. Are they on Social Security or do they have pensions? Do they plan on retiring, and do they have a goal set for retirement date? Once we go through the history of the client and find out as much as we can, then we analyze all the information they have given us. We have them come back for a follow-up appointment and we share recommendations with the client at that time.
SMA: You’ve been in the business for 14 years. Over that period of time, how have your clients’ needs changed?
BB: I find that our clients are very concerned with volatility in the market and how our economy has changed. There were a lot more consistencies back in the day when they were investing. Clients want someone who is going to follow up on their accounts. We are very consistent. We are constantly contacting our clients and giving them customer service.
SMA: When you contact your clients, how do you frame your phone calls? Is it a checkup? A follow-up?
BB: We call our clients every two months to say hello and check on them and see how they are doing. It’s a courtesy call. That call every two months is pretty powerful. They really appreciate it. When they come to our Christmas party, one of the more frequent comments they make is, “Brenda, you don’t know how much it means to us that your office calls just to ask us how we are.”
SMA: What are some of your other tactics for retaining clients and keeping them happy?
BB: We educate them in any way we can. We send out brochures that cover different topics relevant to their age groups. We share demographic changes and trends. It’s interesting to them – they get a flier from us every quarter.
SMA: How many clients do you have?
BB: We have thousands and thousands of clients.