Wealth Management: Marketing Mastery

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Craig Cmiel is the CEO and Managing Principal of Great Lakes Atlantic

Something top advisors have is a lot of confidence. Sometimes the confidence shows up in branding, office space, advertising, their dynamic team, dominating a certain niche, longevity, and other unique attributes. Regardless of their edge, top teams have confidence, ego, and personality. One legendary head of a brokerage firm often used to say, “If you don’t toot your own horn, then someone is likely to clog it up”. In other words, successful advisory teams not only identify what they are good at, they also do a great job of marketing their strengths.

The second trait that we see among successful advisory teams is that they are built properly and to grow. It reminds us of the principles in Jim Collins book From Good to Great. Successful teams have strong leaders, and these leaders do a great job of, as Collins puts it, “getting on the right bus”.  Getting the right people on the team, and in the right roles is critical and clients and prospects can sense this and appreciate the value.

Great advisory teams also possess a strong ability to relate to what clients and prospects want. In our works with Tony Robbins over the years, one concept that stood out as it relates to top performers is their ability to highlight the “Pain & Gain” that makes humans human. Top teams realize that what clients want is to eliminate pain, and increase gain. Pain can be felt not only in market declines, but in poor services, lack of a plan, poor communication, high fees, and so on. Gains can also be viewed as trust, confidence, great communication client loyalty programs, financial planning, as well as making the most of your money.

One of our favorite coaches, Leo Pusateri, notes that successful advisors can articulate their Value Proposition or Value Ladder.  Teams that embrace the seven steps – Who you are, What you do, Why you do it, How you do it, Who you do it for, What….., Why ….    Top performers we have learned lead with a strong value conversation with their clients and prospects, as strong value trumps pricing, and creates loyalty.

A few of the lessons we have learned can be summarized in that top performers have confidence, great team work, connection with clients, and strong value propositions.

It may take a while to master all of these elements, however a good initial goal is to be great at great at something.  This will allow you to compete from a position of strength. Remember, the best are great at some aspect of the business.

When we think of action, we think of competition, our minds turn to some of the great coaches in sports, and what we can learn from them. Some legendary coaches in recent years are

Coach Krzewski of Duke, Bill Bilicheck of the Patriots, and Nick Saban most recently at Alabama.  When looking at these great among others, we can see that they are serious, students of the game, process oriented, they lead by example, set standards, are creative, work hard, amongst many other qualities. What do you think your key traits are? What traits would you like to further develop in order to build your resume of skills?

In addition to honing your skills, another detail that we think is critical, is how to measure yourself? As advisors look towards long term success, they should create measurements, which allow them to manage their progress. If we created a sample of one thousand advisors who have been in the advisory business for fifteen years, we could plot their productivity on a Bell Curve. We could measure any number of factors such as assets, new accounts, growth rate, and client survey ratings, but for purposed of this discussion, let’s just look at a sample of production. On the far left portion of the Bell Curve is where the bottom 10% of production lies, let’s call that $100,000. And the far right represents the top 10% of producers, which we represent as 1 million in production.  If this entire sample has been in the business for fifteen years, the in theory, where the advisor falls on the graph, is a measurement of their total output over the past fifteen years. We call this The Burn, because its up to the advisor or the team to move up or down deciles or standard deviations. The more the team gets what it takes, then they can move their performance upward. This is not altogether different that one of the great sports coaches figuring out how to move their team up the conference standings. At the end of the day, great performers realize that in order to move up, they need to get better.

Beyond honing skills and measuring performance, we think it is important to also look at holistic components of life and work. While drive, skills and production are vital, we like advisors to also look at ways to round out their contribution. So of the best practices we have seen include; charitable involvement, creating educational and intern programs, developing a Legacy Plan for their business, having balance between work and family, as examples. As you look into the future, what are ways that you can build, develop, participate, and broaden out your “impact” on others and your community.

Craig Cmiel brings 27 years of wealth management and brokerage experience to the Great Lakes & Atlantic team. Starting in research and then as a financial consultant led him to a management and leadership path. Craig has run and grown businesses ranging from branches and complexes to products and service teams. His business philosophy centers on three key tenets: clients come first, good advisors are entrepreneurial, and that a firm should be built around a culture that enables advisors to grow and deliver.

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