Joe Elsasser has a problem that plenty of advisors wish they had themselves: His retirement planning practice in Omaha, Neb., is growing so fast, he’s worried he soon won’t be able to keep pace with the workload.
“If this keeps snowballing, I could be in real trouble,” Elsasser, a certified financial planner who runs Sequent Planning, says with a wistful laugh.
As the heads of their own thriving advisory firms, Rosemary Caligiuri of Harvest Group Financial Services in Langhorne, Pa., and James E. Poe of Texas Retirement Specialists in Dallas-Ft. Worth, can sympathize with Elsasser. They, too, run practices whose revenues are consistently robust, whose client and prospect pipelines are consistently full, and whose competitive standing in the markets they serve is consistently strong.
How did Elsasser, Caligiuri and Poe get their firms to the top? And what are they doing strategically to stay there?
As a former registered nurse and founder of a flourishing advisory practice, Rosemary Caligiuri knows how to take care of people’s health —and their wealth. Having spent two decades building her wealth management firm outside Philadelphia into a 1,000-client powerhouse, she evidently knows how to take care of her business, too.
Caligiuri says her success is no accident, but rather the result of a focused, sustained practice-building effort. In the mid- to late-1990s when her firm was still relatively young, she relied heavily on educational seminars aimed at her target client demographic: pre-retirees and recent retirees within the high-net-worth and mass affluent segments. Come the early 2000s, her practice now firmly established, Caligiuri began hosting a weekly radio program (“Financial Issues and Answers,” still on the air locally in 2013) focused on financial and retirement literacy, which brought still more clients. The radio gig in turn opened doors to other media opportunities, from bylined articles in local publications to becoming a source for leading international finance and business outlets.
“I’ve always kept an eye out for marketing opportunities through the media,” she says. “It’s important to keep my face out there.”
Those marketing efforts having proven fruitful, Caligiuri is at the point now where she’s quit doing seminars altogether. The bulk of her new business comes via referrals, oftentimes from within a family. “We’re doing a lot of generational planning,” she says. “We’re asking clients to send their children to us and as a result, the money stays with us.”
Meanwhile, Caligiuri continues to hold semi-annual “market snapshot” events where her clients are encouraged to bring guests, along with large client “thank-you” events and smaller, more intimate, high-end client gatherings.
As prosperous as her practice has become, Caligiuri says she’s diligent about maintaining the momentum she’s worked so hard to build. “You can’t just sit back and rest on your laurels.”
When it comes to investigating new tactics and channels for attracting the high-net-worth clients that his firm targets, “we will try almost anything once,” says James Poe.
In Poe’s case, “anything” means advertising in local print media, hiring a media/public relations firm for outreach to local and national media, and even encouraging members of his advisory team to seek teaching posts at local universities.