Have you ever wondered how to get a business that has plateaued to jump to the next level? Have you struggled with the problem of balancing your business and your personal life?
Have questions such as how to turn a social relationship into a business one, how to differentiate yourself from the competition, or how to help clients paralyzed by fear take appropriate actions troubled you?
There are solutions to all these challenges, and a newly formed CEO Advisor Institute, sponsored by OppenheimerFunds, wants to help financial advisors address these common concerns in an intensive and ongoing fashion.
The New York-based mutual fund company has hired Paul Blease, a former Smith Barney executive, to direct the new program, launched this week. The CEO Advisor Institute is so named because it aims to coach advisors in the skills needed to manage their practices in the creative and analytic fashion for which the most accomplished CEOs are renowned.
It has long been standard practice in the industry for asset management companies to provide value-added practice management insights to advisors through their broker-dealers. But Blease (left), who provided this kind of training to Smith Barney advisors for 15 years (and informally for 25 years), says the CEO Advisor Institute is offering an entirely new model.
“The industry’s attempt at this has been weak, to be generous,” Blease told AdvisorOne in an interview. “What tends to happen is that a fund company will hire an outside speaker or will bring a piece of valued-added content and then speak about it.
“The problem with that model is it stops there. They do not have a web capability where [advisors] can hear it and follow up with tools and templates and collateral material that helps them implement those ideas,” Blease says.
The Institute’s model is to provide ongoing coaching rather than a fleeting flash of inspiration.
In the conventional approach, “Somebody hears a good speaker. They like the content but that’s it. When the wholesaler comes in with his valise and charts, it’s disconnected from that great experience. There’s no follow-up,” Blease says.
In contrast, Oppenheimer has already immersed its wholesalers—now deliberately referred to as “consultants”—in this new consultative platform for two years so far, and Blease says it is only just getting started.
“Over the next five years, we want to take our wholesalers on a journey [enabling them to] coach and consult top producers around their greatest challenge, which is managing these complex [advisory] businesses,” he says.
In practical terms, the inability of advisors to manage complexity is what keeps them from rising beyond production plateaus. Advisors, Blease says, often get stuck in the $350,000 to $500,000 production range, and can’t seem to go beyond that. Similarly, those who produce $750,000 struggle to get to the million-dollar range, and million-dollar producers are no less challenged in climbing to the next level.
The CEO Advisor Institute endeavors to help advisors break through these production barriers to become multimillion-dollar producers. To that end, Blease has identified three barriers to advisors managing the growing complexity of their business.
The first difficulty is that advisors are hardwired as hunters.
“Most advisors are like John or Jane Wayne,” Blease says, referring to the gunslinging hero of Hollywood Westerns. “They want to get up every morning, get on the horse, hunt, kill, fire it up, eat it and get up the next morning and do the same thing. All these people wired like that and you think through osmosis they’ll know how to run a complex practice?”
The second impediment to managing complexity is imbalance in one’s work and life commitments. Says Blease:
“We have to put a stake in the heart of our industry’s false dichotomy. Our industry sends a message to everybody that you’ve got a choice in life: You can have a robust high-performance career or a really rich and meaningful life—pick one.