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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Building TRUST through COMMUNICATION

Effective communication with your clients and team requires more than staff meetings and educational seminars.  In a survey conducted by the Spectrem Group*,  the #1 reason clients left their existing advisor was due to lack of trust.  Building trust requires that you develop a relationship with your clients and prospects.   By communicating and demonstrating trust you will-

  • Build Relationships
  • Acquire Clients
  • Strengthen Your Team
  • Achieve Firm Success

In our blog, Knowledge is Power, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/knowledge-is-power/, we reviewed how effective communication contributes to the success in your firm and how to build an internal communication strategy.  Knowing that external communication is just as important to the success of your firm as internal communication, build your practice by applying these communication skills to instill trust with your clients and prospects-

 Develop a relationship:  Get to know your client or prospect.  Learn as much as you can about them.  Are they working or retired?  If retired, where did they work?  What are their hobbies?  Ask about their family and community organizations they may belong to.  Show a genuine interest in knowing who they are. 

 Practice listening:  Listen, listen and listen.  Listening is a vital component to establishing trust and an effective communication dialogue.  By staying focused on what is being communicated, you show that you are engaged in assisting your clients and prospects.   Don’t start developing opinions and compiling your answer before your client or prospect is finished speaking; rather, focus on everything being said.  By applying this tactic, you will comprehend and retain 75% more of the information you hear.

Express empathy:  Tell your client or prospect that you understand their concerns.  Let them know their success is the #1 most important factor in your relationship. 

 Use Proper Timing:  Don’t rush to sell your products and services before you have earned trust.  Trust forms the foundation for effective communication.  Once you have earned trust, you are then in a position to discuss solutions to meet your clients and prospects needs.

By becoming a trusted advisor, you are now in a position to engage in open, honest and detailed communication.  Communicate details of your firm’s vision, mission and investment process.

  1. Be clear and concise
  2. Explain how your firm differs from your competitors
  3. Review with your clients and prospects exactly what they can expect from your firm
  4. Develop a process to ensure omissions are avoided
  5. Be pro-active by asking and encouraging questions

Remember, any areas of communication that are not understood can present serious challenges to the level of trust that you have worked to build.  Last, but not least, frequent communication with clients is essential to retain a solid trusting relationship.

To be a successful advisor and grow your firm, don’t sell your products  until you have sold your trust.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

~Jim Rohn~

We are curious!!  Do you practice communication techniques at your firm?  Let us know!

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 Strategic Planning and Succession Planning

*The Spectrem Group is a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

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Think Client Workflows Are Corny? Think Again…….

Growing up on an Iowa farm was one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of my fondest memories was the gathering of relatives when it was time to freeze corn.  Nothing tasted better in the harsh cold winters than fresh farm corn; but the preparation of freezing corn consisted of a workflow detailing responsibilities each family member had to complete during the process.

The objective of Ironstone’s Fundamental4™ –Operational Effectiveness and the New Client Workflow, serve as the foundation of your unique process to solve problems, manage interaction, automate tasks and provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience.  The same was true when we would gather for our annual corn freezing day.

In our blog, Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy,https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/,   we reviewed two primary objectives of a client workflow system; improved efficiency and profitability.  The new client workflow will provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

The absence of any workflow model in a firm is a primary culprit for office inefficiency

Each advisory firm will have a unique process that works to the advantage of its clients, team members and the firm. Create a checklist for each of these fundamentals to allow your client workflow to take the repetitive activities and routines out of your brain and let it rise above to focus on more difficult tasks.  Download our guide for Creating Checklists:   How To Create Checklists

Review the foundation and objectives of your new client workflow, ensuring that each component is aligned to achieve goals of your firm;

  • Solve problems:  Problems are easily identified when using a client workflow system.  The system provides you the ability to assess exactly where a client falls in the process, allowing you to identify any problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage interaction:  Client relationship management is easily managed at any given point and time.  By implementing a new client workflow you are able to identify the progress of each step being taken to ensure superior client service.  The process gives you the opportunity to communicate information and answer questions that may arise from your client.
  • Automate tasks:  Tasks will be automated with a client workflow process allowing each team member to hone in on their specific duties.  By automating tasks, you will increase efficiency and productivity within your firm.  With documented procedures in place, task productivity is available for tracking during the process.
  • Provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience:  Each  process within your client workflow system is inter-related. Workflow systems will benefit your firm by enabling you to continually provide excellent client service, concentrate on your areas of strength, build accountability for your practice, enable you to deliver more comprehensive services, assist in managing regulatory and compliance related issues and add value to your firm for re-sale purposes.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a comprehensive new client workflow. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results you desire.

A workflow system should always be a work in progress. Your practice will evolve and grow; and your firm will encounter regulation, compliance and industry change. Accordingly your workflow process should continue to evolve and be updated.

We are curious!!  Does your firm use client workflows?  Which part of your client workflow reaps the most benefits?  Which part of the workflow needs to be improved?  Let us know!

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 Communication

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


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CAB Please!

With investor skepticism, market volatility and financial planners trying to differentiate themselves from competition, many advisors have plunged forward into creating client advisory boards.

What better way to find out what clients and prospects need from you than by asking your best clients.  Not only will you have the capability to position yourself to provide solutions to the most sought after needs of clients, the likelihood of client retention will increase as well.

It is easy to stray away from developing a client advisory board because of the work involved.   The payoff will out-weigh the work by helping you understand new expectations of the investor:

  • Communication frequency
  • New investment strategies
  • New product development
  • Education requirements
  • Expectations of investment managers

Engaging with a client advisory board will also prepare you and your firm for new changes and expectations that will continue to develop.

 We outlined eight steps to creating your advisory board in our blog, Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/create-a-powerful-asset-with-an-advisory-board/.  These steps are your starting point in creating a group of mentors to provide advice, objective feedback and ideas to elevate the level of service you provide for your clients.

Populated by the right mix of clients, your client advisory board will help you stay connected, build trust and create a competitive advantage over other firms.

Client advisory boards will also improve internal operations by:

  • Gaining new perspectives and ideas
  • Improve operating procedures; staff meetings, client workflows and team productivity
  • Improving  marketing, business development and long-term plans
  • Increase personal and business networks resulting in possible referrals for your firm
  • Increasing the value of your firm

Ironstone will evaluate your existing CAB plan and strategize with you to gain optimal benefits.  If you haven’t implemented a client advocate program, we will collaborate with you to develop a first-class plan.  We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

            The most pathetic person in the world is the one who has sight but has no vision- Helen Keller

 We are curious!!  Does your firm have an advisory board?  How has your CAB enhanced your firm and clients  Let us know!

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 Operational Effectiveness and New Client Workflow

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


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Just Another Meeting or a Meeting of the Minds?

Learning how to turn your staff meeting into a meeting that produces results and develops team bonding can be simple and fun.  First identify  your objective.  Create an effective staff meeting in which your team can:

  • Develop strategies
  • Create operating processes
  • Openly share thoughts and ideas
  • Implement plans to achieve objectives

An effective team meeting should produce results.  Make certain each meeting you have is well thought out in advance.  After the meeting,  review thoroughly  to recognize and record the results  produced.

Team meetings are critical to the execution of projects.  

If proper management is not implemented, the meeting can  produce unfavorable results.

Have An Agenda – Create an outline and leave space to record  notes.  Use a consistent format for each meeting.

Listen To Your TeamEncourage employees to share their thoughts, insights and ideas.

Allow Team Member Interaction – Just as you encourage employees to share their thoughts and insights, encourage employees to interact with one another.  Make sure  team members are engaging in effective interpersonal communication with other team members.

Be Time Sensitive – Start and adjourn each meeting on time.  The facilitator of the meeting must make sure  discussions do not veer from the topic.  When this happens, step in and redirect the discussion.

Identify Action Plan – List the critical strategies you have developed;  operating processes and  procedures that will be applied to achieve your objectives.  This will ensure  your employees can see at a glance what is expected of them.

Establish TimelinesDiscuss deadlines during the meeting.  Each team member will then know the  amount of time they have to complete a project.

Follow Up Notes – Assign someone to take notes.  Notes should be documented during and after the meeting while they are still fresh in mind and distributed to each team member.

In case you missed our blog, “When Was The Last Time You Attended A Productive Meeting,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/when-was-the-last-time-you-attended-a-productive-meeting/ we included resources to help you through the process of holding regular staff meetings.   Sample Team Meeting Agenda

Because effective team meetings require more than preparing an agenda, Ironstone has designed a workshop that covers the what, the why and how to produce results through your team meetings.  In this workshop you will learn how to define and create an action plan for each of your team meetings.

As humans, we have interactive processes that change and develop incessantly.  Well planned team meetings will put your firm on the path to building and developing strong relationships with one another, nourish a healthy work culture and create new interactive processes.  Be sure to follow an established operating procedure to ensure consistency for your team meetings.

Contact us for more information about our Team Meeting Workshop!   We will help you dig beneath the surface to ensure  your staff meetings are productive and effective.   We want to hear from you!   Share your best team meeting idea with us!

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: Human Element-Organizational Skills

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


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When Was The Last Time You Attended A Productive Meeting?

When was the last time you attended a productive meeting? 

If it’s hard to remember, you’re not alone.  Poor planning and preparation contribute to zero results and low returns on investment.

We find that many advisors and managers skip over holding staff meetings.   While most staff meetings are usually described as boring, useless, and intimidating, they are an integral part of building the winning team.

Ironstone has several job aids available that can help you through the process of holding regular staff meetings.  View Ironstone’s Meeting Agenda Template:

Meeting Agenda Template

How can you improve your staff meetings?

Successful meetings will require the involvement of management before, during, and after the meeting.

·         Before the Meeting to Ensure Effective Meetings

  • Plan the Meeting
  • Make Sure You Need a Meeting
  • Distribute and Review Any Pre-work Prior to the Meeting
  • During the Meeting, Ensure Appropriate Participation
  • After the Meeting, Create an Effective Meeting Follow-up Plan
    • Publish Meeting Minutes
    • Review of the meeting for continuous improvement

If you are neglecting any one of these meeting management requirements, your meetings will result in productive time being wasted.

If you’re looking to improve communication within your firm, perhaps even increase efficiencies among staff, regular meetings are a good place to start. The key, however, is to begin scheduling the meetings for positive reasons, not negative ones.  Other staff meeting tips you should keep in mind:

  • Stay on track
  • Add some fun
  • Use incentives

Ironstone has designed a workshop that covers the what, why, and how to produce results through meetings.

You will define and create an action plan with the following aspects in mind:

Are they Necessary – desire vs. need, timewasters, alternatives, explore different types of meetings

Coordination & Preparation – before, during, and after

The Leadership Role – guiding your group towards the objectives

Information delivery & Enthusiastic Involvement – prepare the right kind of questions for the right kind of conversation

Control and conclusion – keep things on track, avoid deviation for speedy wrap-up

We want to hear from you!  What are you doing to make your staff meetings successful?

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:  Organizational Skills-Do You & Your Staff Hold The Key To Organization?

 


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How To Increase Your Effectiveness

How To Increase Your Effectiveness

Ironstone believes that one of the best methods for operational effectiveness is to define your standard operating procedures for your practice and create multiple tracking and reporting systems that measure your results.  You should create reports and checklists by observing your current projects and processes, including the sequence of each.

For example, a powerful client engagement process consists of the design and creation of Financial Advisor service teams, client segmentation, service matrices and new/existing client workflow systems.  The fusion of these elements increases the efficiency of managing the workload while increasing the level of the client experience.

It’s imperative that each project and/or process that you are using in your firm has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).   The goal is to be efficient and effective.   The SOP should include:

  • The name and description of the current project/process
  • Define the sequence of events from the start to the completion of the project
  • Outline the implementation steps to complete the project
  • Create checklists or use supplemental information to aid in the management of the project
  • Determine the key metrics to be measured and how
  • Set a schedule of regular communication regarding team progress
  • Periodically review the processes to determine if any changes or updates are necessary

At Ironstone we find that the best way to start is to observe your current projects and process (or lack thereof) by taking detailed notes and surveys of day-to-day activity.   Make your list of what processes are in place or need to be in place and then create the standard operating procedures for each.

There are many areas within your personal and professional life where you can put this into practice.  Some of these include (but are not limited to) time management, methods for prioritizing, balancing life and work goals, staff meetings, marketing plans, client appreciation/retention, demographic analysis, and database management… just to name a few.

We know, it sounds like a lot of work, right?   You can’t have a full understanding of your business without tracking results along with measuring and analyzing internal processes.

Let us know how you create and manage your Standard Operating Procedures, your best practices, and what areas of assistance you need in developing effective operating procedures.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your internal reports and tracking systems.  You will also want to download our Reports & Tracking Checklist!   2.14.12Reports&Tracking

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-Leadership