The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


Leave a comment

Mountain or Molehill? How Do You Build Your Strategic Alliances?

Building and maintaining strategic alliance’s does not need to be viewed as a mountain that can’t be climbed Choose to climb the molehill instead and you will put the process of strategic alliance planning into proper perspective.  This is not to say that developing and reviewing your plan won’t take a lot of hard work and preparation; all relationships do.   Building your strategic alliances and/or partners is the same.

We have found that most advisors have not taken the time to invest in building strategic alliances, much less start to develop a plan.  Yet, those that build alliances generate higher revenues and profits.   It only takes a small number of strategic partners to have a positive impact within your firm.  

In our blog, Strategic Alliances Build A Foundation For Long-Term Success, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/, we reviewed the steps you should include when developing your Strategic Alliance Plan.

Don’t make your strategic alliance plan a mountain; it only needs to be a molehill

Many advisors avoid the process of creating strategic alliances because it appears to be an overwhelming project with diminutive benefits.  Reality is, by creating strategic alliances you will position your firm to bring value to your clients and your business.  Start and keep your plan small and simple.  Focus on:

  • One or two relationships
  • Create mutual benefits for each organization
  • Align your vision and mission with the partners you choose
  • Mutually commit to specific actions and review, review, review
  • Establish a trial period
  • Define key and measurable metrics
  • Have an exit strategy

Recognize the importance your entire team can play in developing your strategic alliance plan and contribute to relationships that can be established.   You don’t need to take the entire project on yourself.  Delegate pieces of your plan and commit to regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and overcoming objections.

Ironstone has found that the key factor in a strategic alliance plan is to follow up on metrics and expectations that you and your partners have agreed upon.  Lack of follow up leads to non- productive and one-way relationships.  If you find you are in a one-way relationship, you need to leave and create a new one.

We are curious!!  Does your firm have strategic alliances?  Tell us about it!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about Business Development and Your Firm’s Advisory Board

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Treat Your Clients Fairly, But Not Equally—It’s OK!

In Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, Operational Effectiveness, we take a challenging look into creating a service matrix that serves as your reference on how you will serve each client fairly, but not necessarily equally.  Developing the proper client segmentation is vital in creating, growing and evolving your firm and then applying that segmentation to a service matrix.    To make a service matrix effective, you must determine the type of services you offer and client contact frequency to promote clear communication to clients and prospects.

Determining the best way to align client services within your matrix

A service matrix should be based upon the characteristics of your firm, needs and goals of your firm’s processes combined with the uniqueness of each client and prospect.  Your clients are not created equal in terms of their needs and desires.  Your job is to determine the specific needs of groups within your client database, use the levers in your control to grow revenue and provide first-class service and sales effort.

You owe each client your best effort – not every service

In our blog, “Understanding Purposeful Meaning In Your Client Service Matrix,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/understanding-purposeful-meaning-in-your-client-service-matrix/ we outlined the principles inside a service matrix.

 
A client service matrix serves several purposes:
• Encourages clients and prospects to use your firm for all of their financial planning needs
• Clarifies what service levels each client can expect
• Aligns advisor time and resources
• Provides a way to thank your most loyal clients

A service matrix will allow your firm to deliver services to different client segments through the use of multiple channels and aide you in delivering outstanding service by defining what activities you will perform based on the profitability of each relationship.  Position your firm to use your service matrix as a central tool in servicing clients and to show differentiation from your competition.

Using your matrix as an external and internal tool for success

 A service matrix serves as an external and internal managerial tool.  Use your matrix internally to:

  • Determine if proper staffing is in place to provide desired results and services
  • Plan, develop and implement tactics for future growth
  • Schedule service items that will be provided to your clients/prospects
  • Generate reminders to all team members

Utilizing your matrix will ensure all services within the matrix are being provided and will allow you to support proactive client/prospect service and ensure you are delivering on the promises you made.

Employing a service matrix is a useful tool when you evaluate the strategic changes in your firm’s service operation.  By paying close attention to the challenges associated with each classification, overall firm performance will improve.

The end result, your firm will be more strategic, efficient and likely more profitable.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises,

 but only performance is reality.”   Harold Geneen

We are curious!!  Does your firm utilize a service matrix?  Tell us about it!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about the human element and hiring and onboarding!

Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Defining Client Value Beyond $ Signs

Segmentation is the first critical step toward greater efficiency and ultimately improved profitability. In our blog, “Take the First Step Towards Greater Efficiency With Client Segmentation,”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/take-the-first-step-towards-greater-efficiency-with-client-segmentation/ we provided you with basic steps and resources to segment your client database.

Start your segmentation process by defining client value.  Viewing each group with different needs and priorities will present you with the ability to serve each segment based upon their needs, not the firm’s profits.

Client segmentation is about improving customer service for all of your clients.  Use it to deliver solutions more effectively by streamlining and automating the services you offer.  Aligning the right level of advisor support to the client’s specific needs results in increased client satisfaction and in turn may even result in more client referrals.

Advancing Your Client Segmentation Plan

Client segmentation needs to be taken to a deeper lever in order to gain the full benefit.  Once your initial segmentation process is complete, you are ready to segment your client database further by distinguishing clients based on characteristics beyond the dollars.

Many advisors have not segmented their client database in a meaningful way beyond assets under management.  Assets under management will be your constant starting point for segmentation and predicting client needs.   Understanding that clients within the same segmentation class still have extraordinary needs and expectations will allow you to provide matched solutions with your product and service offerings.

Trying to provide the same high level of service to everyone can make it difficult to focus on the more complex clients and on the inevitable changes that come with growth and business development.  Ironstone can assist you in all phases of client segmentation and ultimately design a comprehensive client segmentation plan that will allow you the opportunity to hone in on specific and unique needs of clients within each segment.

Ironstone recommends  you place some of the following attributes in your segmentation plan beyond assets under management:

  • Revenue produced for the firm
  • Quality of your relationship with the client
  • Earnings potential
  • Client lifestyles & life events
  • Client demographics
  • Risk analysis/Behavioral attributes

Applying the above listed characteristics will provide another layer to your segmentation plan and aide in shaping optimal service for your clients.  You may not want to engage in each market base, but you can start with the characteristics that employ the biggest role in improving your firms’ bottom line.   By marketing to each subcategory you will accomplish more targeted messages and information that will resonate with your clients, resulting in engaged clients and prospects, higher response rates and a shorter conversion cycle.

Use this model to segment your clients by determining their level of revenue and the value of the business relationship.08.06.12 Segmentation Guide

Readers, we are curious!!  How do you approach segmentation in your firm?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Job Descriptions

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Begin With The End In Mind

Your succession plan should start when you make plans to open your firm.  If you want to create a purposeful life and path for your career, as you start your business think about what your exit game plan will be.  Regardless of being in the midst of success, if you do not have a succession plan, make it a priority this year. 

How should you start the process?  Think of yourself as replaceable and begin to delegate tasks to others.  Other key questions to answer in developing your succession plan:

  • At what time would you like to transition out?
  • Who will you sell to?
  • When will you make the transition?
  • How will all of these work together?
  • Are annual recurring revenues growing over time consistently or are they up and down and somewhat volatile?
 

Predictability is the preference in appealing a buyer to your firm.  Higher net cash flow and higher recurring revenue will give your firm a higher valuation. 

How long should an exit take?  Each firm is different, however, it can take months to years for the entire succession process.  When pursuing a sale the following steps can take 1 to 2 months per step and are critical in successful succession planning:

  • Preparation
  • Marketing
  • Negotiating
  • Due Diligence
  • Final Transaction
 

 Other considerations to include in your succession plan:

  • Prepare your team & your clients. Make sure your clients will receive the same level or better quality of service that they are currently receiving.
  • Train your clients so they are used to you being out of the office.
  • That the buyer can have a profitable practice.
  • That you will be compensated fairly for your practice.
  • Look for businesses that are compatible with your firm.
  • Is the business a fee-based or commission-based firm?
  • Is the firm financial-planning based or investment-management service based?
  • What is the firm’s client service philosophy?
 

As the owner of your firm, you are sure to be experiencing feelings of loss of control, loss of significance and grief.  Be aware that your team is experiencing an elevated pressure of anxiety if you leave them in the dark.  It is vital to communicate the tactics of your succession plan to your team.   

Purposeful planning is key to the entire succession planning process.  “One of the best things you can do is to work ON the business not just IN the business.”

 We want to hear from you!  Is your succession plan in place?

Contact us for assistance in following the proper steps needed for a successful succession plan.

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development- Branding & Value Proposition-Does Your Firm Have A Value Proposition?  Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm.