As successful advisors seek to position themselves for sustained, long-term growth, they are increasingly seeking Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction partners whose offerings go well beyond compliance supervision and pricing leverage.
One key area where innovative Super-OSJs can add significant incremental value is by leveraging one of their key assets — their knowledge of their own advisors — to proactively help those professionals identify and win new business through collaboration with other advisors in the group.
These “cross-pollination” opportunities pair advisors with complementary skill sets or specializations to provide compelling solutions for clients or prospects with complex needs.
While advisors frequently collaborate with peers living in either the same city or town to tackle challenging new business situations, it takes another level of expertise entirely to facilitate similar collaboration between advisors living across state lines — or whose businesses may be at different life stages.
This is where forward-thinking OSJs have a valuable role to play by building cultures focused on proactively identifying cross-pollination opportunities and empowering advisors to pursue them.
Here are three tips for developing cross-pollination and collaborative business opportunities within a Super OSJ network:
1. Systematically Establish an Open Network Culture.
A Super-OSJ’s culture itself can be a significant value-add for advisors, many of whom may operate one- or two-person practices and may not have opportunities to interact frequently with other advisors.
OSJs that offer a culture geared toward creating bonds of friendship and leverage that culture to drive new business for their advisors through cross-pollination opportunities can provide even more compelling offerings.
Super-OSJ executives can start to build such a culture by keeping a detailed mental inventory of their advisors’ various specializations and refer to it for collaboration opportunities when advisors ask for ideas in working on complex situations. (For example, think about a Generation X-focused advisor who encounters an opportunity to sign a large 401(k), but lacks the skills to do it alone.)
OSJ leaders should also note what happens after they have recommended advisors work together. If the results are positive, that will help them build a demonstrable track record of success. (Some OSJs utilize CRM systems to assemble this ‘skills inventory’ and track the outcome of their recommendations.)
While it may sound simple, OSJ leaders who commit to introducing collaborative solutions to their advisors on a consistent basis – and who can point to a history of positive results — can then encourage their advisors to take a similar approach to unearthing cross-pollination opportunities in their own networking conversations.
Developing these attitudes and practices is the best way to build an open culture within a network.
2. Build Advisor Events with Cross-Pollination In Mind.
For an open culture focused on collaborative business opportunities to take root, OSJs need to provide an environment where such conversations can begin and develop.
One highly effective way to steer OSJs’ annual advisor meetings toward cross-pollination discussions is to host sessions where a top-producing senior advisor details his or her practice — from prospecting techniques and client targeting to favored technology and areas of service specialization — to rising younger advisors in the network.
Such discussions can be formal presentations, complete with PowerPoint decks, or more casual get-togethers.
These sessions can help younger advisors gain crucial insights for improving their practices and enable senior advisors to outline their particular skill sets and position themselves as vital resources when collaborative business opportunities present themselves down the road. (These sessions can also play a crucial role in facilitating succession planning conversations.)
3. Leverage Broker-Dealer Relationships.
Super-OSJs can also find new ways to facilitate cross-pollination opportunities for their advisors by enlisting the resources and expertise of their broker-dealers.
Many firms have found success in serving OSJs or other large producer groups by convening a “branch manager council” two to three times a year centered around best practices discussions between their top-producing Super-OSJs.
Just as advisors within a Super-OSJ network may have complementary skill sets, each OSJ may have found varying degrees of success in facilitating collaboration among their advisors using different techniques.
Broker-dealers can encourage productive exchanges along these lines by implementing branch manager council meetings — and then stepping back to let the OSJs generate the key takeaways.
Successful advisors in today’s climate are looking for every potential advantage to position themselves for continued long-term growth.
By making use of two of their under-the-radar competitive advantages — their unique cultures and their knowledge of their advisors — Super-OSJs can offer advisors a network of like-minded professionals where they will feel at home and facilitate incremental new business opportunities for them through cross-pollination. And helping to generate new business is frequently the most valuable service offering of all.
Bill Brice is managing partner of Professional Investors Network, LLC, a South Windsor, Connecticut-based Super OSJ affiliated with Securities America. Gregg Johnson is executive vice president of Branch Office Development and Acquisitions for Securities America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services.