Click to enlarge: A sample Kaleido Score. Source: Kaleido Inc.“Advisors are innovative,” says Angie Herbers, but many of those innovative ideas “never come to life because they’re not based on a solid foundation.”

At Herbers’ renamed firm, Kaleido Inc., advisors will get all the practice management help (excepting compliance) they need to build that foundation, Herbers said in an interview about Kaleido and its business plan.

The San Diego-based company was formed last year through the merger of Herbers’ Angie Herbers Inc. and Kristen Luke’s Wealth Management Marketing (Disclosure: Herbers has long written for Investment Advisor and ThinkAdvisor).

So what does the name mean? Herbers explains that many advisors find themselves facing roadblocks to the growth of their firms, and while advisors tend to be “good at identifying” the problem, they’re “bad at coming to a solution” and instead tend to “go down the wrong paths and get frustrated” with their efforts to solve their growth problems. That’s because, she says, “how you run a $1 million firm is totally different than how you run a $10 million firm.”

Using a free software tool called the Kaleido Scope, advisors can perform a self-assessment of their business that gives them a graphic perspective, resembling a kaleidoscope, that clearly shows in a color-coded way which issues they need to work on to achieve their growth goals.

The Kaleido Scope asks a number of questions to identify where a firm is and where it needs to be. “Do you have a vision statement that’s memorized? Do you have motivated people? Do you have a formal exit strategy? These are all questions we’ve asked our clients in the past,” Herbers says, referring to her firm and Luke’s. “Kaleido Scope tells you what the solutions are,” based on data from the years of consulting work that Herbers and Luke have done for advisory firms.

Beyond using the tool, Kaleido is offering Synergy, what it calls “the first and only integrated practice management offering” for advisory firms that covers management, client service, human resources, sales and marketing, operations and corporate finance. 

That integrated approach, solving the issues identified in the Kaleido Scope, is a process that requires a commitment from firm owners and hard work. “To grow,” says, Herbers, “takes a lot of work and time,” along with consistent efforts, especially in marketing. Many advisors believe that to grow all they need is a good marketing plan, but before such a plan will work, the firm must have the capabilities and capacity in-house—i.e., build the foundation first before attempting to grow the firm.

“A marketing plan will work if it’s consistent,” Herbers warns, “not innovative but consistent.” So if a firm’s goal is to specialize in a given niche, for example, through the marketing plan “over and over again we will do one or two things to attract this niche; not do one-off things.”

As she has written about in her column and blog, sometimes the biggest barrier to growth can be the advisor owner. “Yes, some people get lucky, but you need to ask for help and figure out what the real solution is,” says Herbers. “I call it transformational growth; they have to do the hard work and take the time. When I’m working with someone, I tell them there is a process here: we fix you first and then the business.”

— By Angie Herbers on ThinkAdvisor: