It’s true that not every advisor is right to serve the high-net-worth market, but many more stay away simply because they’re intimidated. Three producers who have built their careers serving affluent clients say that’s an easy fear to overcome.
This is part two of a three-part Producer Roundtable. For more see:
Part one: The road to the high-net-worth market
Q. Some producers I know seem somewhat intimidated by the special issues that high-net-worth clients face as well as some of the special intricacies in working in this market. Do you have any advice on how to prepare for those special issues and intricacies as well as how to overcome any possible intimidation factors?
Peter R. Magni, LUTCF, financial representative with the Wellesley Financial Group in Wellesley Hills, Mass.: As the needs of high-net-worth individuals continue to grow and the solutions become more complicated, advisors must develop expertise in these areas, which can be intimidating. The best way to solve this problem is to spend a great deal of your time reviewing and analyzing these issues, and educating yourself on an ongoing basis. Then you must rehearse your presentations extensively and make them clear and concise so you will be seen as an expert in these areas.
Keith Eck, CLU, ChFC, founder of Keith Eck Financial & Insurance Services: I remember the early days working for the firm and attending our quarterly education meetings, where we would learn about advanced sales techniques, and being in the meetings understanding just a small percentage of what was being presented. However, each meeting I felt as though I was understanding more and more of what was being discussed until I felt as though I could possibly be the presenter.
I finally started to feel more confident in front of clients and CPAs once I realized that I may be young, but I knew more about what I was talking about than they did, and if I did not know an answer, I knew where I could find one. Even after 37 years of being in this business, I still have to remind myself that it is okay to not know an answer as long as you get back to the client or advisor on a timely basis. I would encourage younger agents to team up with older agents who are familiar with the advanced markets. As was told to me in my younger years, 50 percent of something will always be more than 100 percent of nothing! As a younger agent matures and studies the advanced concepts, he or she will need to rely less on the seasoned veterans. However, another reason to team up is because of the succession needs of our business, as a younger agent may find that not only will he or she learn, but he or she may also have a built-in future client base he or she can purchase from the veteran.
Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president of Feldman Financial Group and president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation: Agents approaching this market who do not currently have the skill sets required need to take the CLU, ChFC, and/or the CFP courses to learn what is required in this market. But my best advice is to work with another agent, at least initially, who is already comfortable in the high-net-worth market. This person can become the mentor to teach the skills required.
Q. How do you set yourself apart from other advisors who are active in this market? Do you have a special niche or unique value proposition that makes it difficult for other advisors to compete with you?
Eck: I set myself apart by specializing in business succession planning, and in 2012 I joined Business Enterprise Institute — BEI — to help provide the same type of planning support I have with my financial planning software company. I wanted to be a part of a national firm that is known as a leader in the succession field who could provide excellent support and have a software system that would enable me to produce a consistent product for my clients.
Feldman: Competition is always a concern, but clients learn very quickly that my recommendations are given only after I understand their personal situation and what they want to accomplish. There are no cookie-cutter solutions, and my staff and I provide exceptional service not only during the initial design stages, but throughout their lifetimes.
Magni: Because I work predominately with physicians, I constantly try to understand what a day in the life of a physician is like. As such, I have grown keenly aware of the problems, challenges, successes and decisions they face on a daily basis. My clients view me as a physician-like advisor because I have almost adopted their schedules. It is more reassuring to physicians to deal with an advisor who fully understands them rather than an advisor who does not specialize in their lives.
For more on the high-net-worth market, see: