(San Diego) Commonwealth Financial Network highlighted both practical and emotional ways financial advisors can grow their business during the turmoil of 2009 at its recent wealth management symposium, held in mid-March at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter hotel in Southern California.
There were about 115 independent advisors and some 30 staff attending, and topics included risk management, practice management and financial planning.
“Market turbulence can make things tough for financial advisors,” says Wayne Bloom, the broker-dealer’s recently tapped CEO. “They tell me that they have to be here to move forward, so when the market turns, they have a better practice in place.”
As for technology, Commonwealth has platforms for advisors and for clients (Client 360 and Investor 360). But it aims to roll out a wealth-management platform within the next 12 months that can be shared with accountants, lawyers and other professional partners online. “This is in the cue,” Bloom says.
“We want to service advisors that want to run their business as wealth managers, but as a broker-dealer, we have to show leadership.” Incorporating aspects of consultancy CEG Worldwide’s business model and practice-management techniques are part of this effort, he adds. “Wealth management is worth embracing as a core competency.”
At the conference Patricia Abram, a senior managing principal of CEG, stressed the need for advisors to spend 60 percent of their time or more with clients. She also advises that FAs construct a grid that breaks down clients by type as a first step in “driving revenue.”
“This is really about putting a premium on direct communication with clients,” shares Bloom, “while becoming more efficient.” With some 460 staff for 1,300-plus advisors, the broker-dealer strives for a similar strategy, he points out.
“We have been stressing practice management for 20 years in order to help advisors get better and to teach them scalability,” explains Bloom. “Our advisors are independent, which is the key word. We don’t tell them what to do. Rather, we give them great choices.”
“These are really our selling points — productivity, service and outsourcing in areas of practice management, information technology and other areas,” he explains.