Training and education have become more important than ever to a financial representative’s career growth and development. Today’s clients are more affluent, sophisticated and demanding than ever before.
As a result, a key to the promise of accelerated career growth for financial representatives can be found in commitment to a challenging, high-quality training and education program united with a mission to help them build practices in the affluent marketplace as quickly as possible.
As the complexity of the financial services business increases, it’s imperative that today’s financial representatives become adept at what we refer to as the “art and science of wealth management.” In other words, they must be able to combine “non-scientific” skills of establishing relationships, managing clients and being creative in developing financial solutions with fact-based knowledge of the products, financial concepts and services offered.
We believe that for a financial representative to be successful, a firm must provide access to both the training and education that will enable this development, as well as access to a team of specialists to adequately support each client’s unique circumstances.
To enable our financial representatives to be successful and achieve their true growth potential, our firm has created a supportive organization and culture that breaks training and education into its essential elements. The cornerstone of our training philosophy can be encompassed by one of our firm’s often-repeated mantras: Capture, expand, and teach.
The first step in our process is a 15-month core curriculum designed to help financial representatives capture the essential information they’ll need to operate effectively in the affluent marketplace. It includes understanding the value proposition of our team-based planning process, building a strong system for referrals and comprehending the basic products and financial solutions offered by the firm.
This step also focuses on how the financial representative should discuss financial strategies with prospects and customers. It provides them with the basics of estate planning, business planning, financial planning and wealth management at a 30,000-foot view. By being exposed to the big picture, our financial reps can quickly focus on finding affluent prospects with whom to discuss the value of our financial analysis process and build relationships.
Early achievement in establishing client relationships buys the new financial representative the time needed to understand how the classroom concepts we teach are used in the field. This is the basis for growing one’s own business successfully.
We cannot overstate the importance of vigorous marketing activity at this stage. No amount of classroom training will ever be a substitute for actively seeking new prospects through effective marketing. By integrating the training directly with marketing, we are able to provide real-life exercises that help our financial representatives not only learn faster and more efficiently but also begin to generate revenue for their business.
For example, we all know the importance of building a viable business plan for one’s practice. But the common perception is that this is a cumbersome, time-consuming process–and it often gets ignored. However, we require all our associates to complete their own business “blueprint,” which enables them to effectively plan how they will build a viable business model in the affluent marketplace. We then leverage the firm’s training, education, marketing systems and team of specialists to help our financial reps effectively execute their plan.
Using a client-centered approach, new financial representatives focus their efforts on identifying target markets in which they already have an interest or numerous contacts. This allows them to build a referral business right away, not a cold calling one. They use an “uncovering your markets” tool to find and penetrate the markets that they find fun and interesting, particularly those that reflect their passions.
Financial reps can uncover markets in a college alumni group, a club for sports (such as sailing or golf), or enterprise markets, like small business owners in real estate or construction. The key is to help them find a sustainable market and understand how to effectively penetrate it to drive early sales results and build for the future.
Our marketing systems and the associated education and training leverage a specific process that focuses on how to research markets, reach potential customers and cultivate clients. The goal is for financial representatives to develop solid relationships based on the personal and financial interests of the clients.
And because the financial representative has worked diligently to understand the market through research and approaching the market the way the client prefers, clients know and trust both the firm and the financial representative. These clients then become a key source of referrals that accelerate the growth and success of the new financial representative’s practice.
But, as mentioned earlier, this marketing strategy must be aligned with a training curriculum that reflects the needs and services of these markets. In other words, the training program supports the financial rep’s targeted marketplace through a customized curriculum that helps them penetrate the market and understand the necessary basic knowledge to operate effectively in it.