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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Six Ways to Grow Your Business That Won’t Give You Compliance Problems

Here are six ways to keep your compliance department happy and still grow your business.


You could do seminars with little hassle if you use your firms approved materials. However, I often hear from many reps that these materials get poor results but you can get good results even from even poor materials. Just make sure the other variables work well.

Invite people age 60+. These are the people who have time and are motivated to learn what they can about their uncertain financial future. This audience will produce your largest crowds.
If the invitation is lousy, send more. Usually, a good invitation will draw a 1% response. If the invitation only gets ½% response, then send twice as many.

Hold your seminar during daylight hours as many seniors resist going out at night.

Maximize appointments by making sure people have a good time. People are much more motivated to make an appointment with you if they like you rather than if you give a great talk on asset allocation. The easiest way to get people to like you in a short period is to entertain them: tell jokes, do magic tricks, turn your seminar into a Jeopardy game. If attendees have a good time, they will like you and are far more likely to accept your invitation to meet. (If you doubt this, then how come entertainers are besieged by adoring fans wherever they go and our culture pays entertainers the highest salaries)?

Makes sure you close appointments at the seminar. There is nothing worse than a good presentation ruined by what most advisors do—wait to the next day and “beg for appointments.”

Let others market for you

Although most producers get an inadequate number of client referrals, top producers get 50% of their new business from client and professional referrals. Stop relying on what someone told you about getting referrals. Listen to people that get a ton of referrals and follow their advice—not the advice of someone who works in the marketing department. Most of what you’ve been told about referrals is wrong. Do the research.

Get on the Internet and do a search on the key phrase “client referrals financial advisors.” As to professional referrals, your best sources are NOT CPAs and attorneys. Your best referral source is others in the financial services business that don’t compete with you. I recently met an insurance agent earning over $1 million annually. His best source of referrals is a fee-based money manager in his town. That money manager does no work on a commission basis and does not deal with insurance. Over a two year period, the agent earned $1 million in commission from the money manager’s referrals.

Lead systems

Subscribe to a service where they do the marketing and generate responses from interested investors. Then, you buy these insurance leads or investor leads and contact the respondents. Such services as SeniorLeads and Wiseradvisor do this.

Get education that other advisors don’t have

Attend a course on Advanced IRA Distribution Planning. Advisors learn three questions they can ask any affluent IRA owner that will virtually insure they become the prospect’s new advisor. These are three questions that 99% of financial advisors and CPAs cannot answer.

Here’s another example. An advisor used stocks and bonds to build portfolios. He made sure to know more than most other advisors about mutual funds and would quickly gain clients by asking:

1. Are you aware how to find out about the hidden slippage costs in your mutual fund?
2. What percent of your annual tax bill is caused by the tax generated by your mutual funds?3. Did you know that John Bogle, Chairman Emeritus of Vanguard funds calculated that the largest fund families have costs of 2% to 3% annually before considering slippage costs and tax impact. Do you know how high a price you are paying?

So get educated and make sure you learn how to turn that education into a competitive advantage (knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is power).

Get a coach

Top performers in any industry have coaches. You have blind spots and limiting beliefs that cap your success—we all do. Top performers don’t want their success stopped by hidden “devils.” So they get a coach who can show them a view from outside themselves and where they can break through hidden barriers for exceptional performance. A little work on you goes a long way and your compliance department will be okay with that.

Learn how to sell

Most financial advisors don’t even know what selling is. Over 2/3 have never had formal sales training and believe that “experience” is the way to learn to sell. They have an undeveloped view that selling is convincing or persuading or illustrating features and benefits. In working with top advisors here’s what I see selling as, “the asking of appropriate questions so that the prospect sees the solutions for themselves.” Selling is the mastery of asking questions. Questions are the only legitimate and most powerful tool for directing the thoughts of another person. (Most mediocre performers in our business think that talking at the prospect is the best way to direct the prospect’s thoughts). If you want to direct your prospect’s thinking in an appropriate way, learn to ask powerful questions and your prospect will close themselves. You’ll gather more assets and have a higher success ratio converting prospects to clients.

So you can whine about all the ways that compliance keeps you from doing business or focus on the part of the glass that's half full.