This is an extended version of the profile that appeared in the May issue of Investment Advisor, part of AdvisorOne's Special Report profiling this year's members of the IA 25, the most influential people in and around the advisor universe. See the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles of all the 2011 members of the IA 25.
For some time now, most advisors have understood that the key to growth, the key to success, is to turn their practices into businesses. While there has been plenty of good advice on how to conduct this transformation, the practical, quotidian tools to do so have been lacking. That’s where ActiFi and its founder and CEO, Spenser Segal, stand ready to serve.
The markets and economic crisis of 2008–2009, Segal suggests, was “a wake-up call” for advisors. While in the past “just being a good advisor and letting everything else take care of itself” was workable for most advisors, the crisis showed the value of running a more effective business.
What do advisors need to create businesses out of practices? It’s education, finding the right partners, hiring the right people in your firm, Segal agrees, but “ultimately, it’s execution that’s the key,” starting with a decision to devote the “will, skill and time.” Noting that “will” tends not be the stumbling block, Segal argues that for many practice management tasks, like picking a CRM system, “there’s more to it than meets the eye,” and that in tackling such issues—which he notes are often one-time tasks—they need “more skills than what they have already in their practice.”
Part of the solution, which he says ActiFi is already seeing occur, is that advisors’ partners like TAMPs and BDs and custodians in particular, “are raising the bar in their ability to provide more insight, [and] more effective resources to the advisor to decide and implement” key practice management tasks ranging from segmenting their clients to choosing technology.
“What we’re seeing and pioneering,” Segal says, is a “scalable practice management workstation” that allows advisors’ partners to deliver advice, to be a true partner on implementing that advice, or even providing that advice “on a silver platter.”