Fall brings to mind images of falling leaves, crisp apple cider, carved pumpkins, and the harvesting of crops planted. It’s also a time when brokers are returning from their summer vacations and ready to get a fresh start on their busy work months ahead. This is a great time for financial professionals to survey the landscape within their office, and take a hard look at how to take their client relationships to the next level.
Who builds client relationships? Most financial professionals point to themselves. However, a study conducted by State Street and Knowledge@Wharton (an online resource that captures research generated by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business) asserts that often only 15% to 20% of the client’s contact is with the financial advisor. The other 80% of the contact is with the professional’s assistant and support staff. Many financial professionals are looking to build their business, and need a strong service model. An all-too-significant number of professionals are adding clients as fast as they can, crossing their fingers that the service level will rise to meet demand.
Savvy professionals view sales assistants as an untapped resource that can help grow sales and enhance their firms’ service delivery. An efficient, organized sales assistant can give a financial professional a competitive advantage when it comes to client relationships. Sales assistants are trouble-shooters who juggle everything from tracking down dividend checks to coordinating seminars. They are the glue that holds the practice together and keeps its operations on track. For example, they have assumed many of the practice’s compliance duties, ensuring that forms are signed and filed, documentation is maintained, and professionals are updated on new compliance regulations and procedures.
As a significant portion of professionals move beyond reliance on commission-based selling, they find themselves turning to the sales assistant to share an increasing portion of the administrative burden. This can free up time for client meetings and directly impact the bottom line. The role of today’s sales assistant is undergoing change, moving well beyond strictly administrative functions. They are optimizing their role by taking on more complex tasks such as conducting investment research and asset allocation studies, helping brokers create sales illustrations, and venturing further into the development of prospecting materials and pre-sale endeavors. Sales assistants are also increasing their knowledge of the industry and are pursuing registrations, generally FINRA (formerly NASD) Series 6 or 63. However, sales assistants are careful to refrain from tasks that require registrations beyond what they hold.