The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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:


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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/learn-how-to-write-a-prospecting-plan-for-your-firm/you can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

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


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Stay Competitive By Adopting A Higher Value Business Model For Your Firm

In our first blog series focusing on strategic planning and your firm’s business model (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/how-to-define-your-business-model-and-set-the-objectives-that-will-bring-it-to-life/) we reviewed types of business models including solo, silo and ensemble firms and how strong ownership mentality helps drive success and creates focus to leverage services offered to your clients.

We also identified that your business model explains the flow of money within your firm along with identifying the services that your clients find valuable with a focus on what the largest income generator for your firm is.

Your business model has been and needs to continue to evolve for a variety of reasons including industry commoditization and increased competition.  In order to stay competitive and set yourself apart from your competitors, adopting a higher value business model will be a vital part of your firm’s success.

The structure of your business must change in order to support your new business model If not you will experience:

  • declining revenue growth
  • deteriorating client satisfaction
  • increased levels of stress on your team
  • erosion of market share
  • loss of credibility

As you change your business model, you will need to solve complex wealth management problems and build stronger relationships with your clients, all of which will require added resources.  Clients are desperately seeking advisors that they can rely on.  Provide a business model that enables them to:

  • Trust that their advisor will act in their best interest at all times
  • Know their advisor is there when needed
  • Know that fees have been minimized
  • Retain control of their assets
  • Provide meaningful educational opportunities

Providing this type of business model is important, but do not forget to share your business model with your clients and prospects.  After all, you need to educate and demonstrate what makes you different from the rest!

Include the following items while you review and refine you business model:

  • Key Partners
  • Key Activities
  • Value Proposition
  • Customer Relationships
  • Customer Segments
  • Revenue Streams
  • Channels for Reaching Clients
  • Key Resources
  • Cost Structure

Ironstone can assist you in developing an up-to-date business model that meets the needs of your clients. 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.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Business Model.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  What challenges do you face in setting yourself apart from your competitors? We always love hearing from you!

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


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Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy

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.

In today’s highly competitive market, wealth advisors need an effective Client Workflow System that enables execution of business strategies consistently and cost-effectively. A workflow system consists of a series of written procedures with supporting checklists and templates that document and systemize every aspect of how a firm operates and delivers client service.

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

Client workflow systems should create two primary objectives for your firm, improved efficiency and profitability. They provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

Processes that you should include in your client workflow system are:
• Client relationship management
• Internal/external marketing
• Automation of processes between team members
• Generation of management reports
• Integration to back office systems
• Regularly scheduled communication among team members

Each of the processes within your client workflow system are 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 has found that two key factors are important when implementing a client workflow process; technology and strategy.


Technology:
From a technology perspective your client relationship management system (CRM) should meet some minimum requirements:
Easy to use– Information is easily captured and shared, enhancing your ROI.
Adaptable-Because advisory firms experience a magnitude of change in approaches, regulations and investment climate, you will want a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system to be able to support those changes.
Workflow Engine-One of the most significant areas of productivity improvement is the use of workflow engines that are included with leading CRM solutions.

Strategy:
When developing your new client workflow center your strategy around two priorities, client retention and client acquisition.

Client Retention Workflows aide in client retention for your firm by automating reviews, prompting client interaction, scheduling service reminders, and storing other important client information. With automated processes, you will feel comfortable that things aren’t falling-through-the-cracks and know that your firm is not missing opportunities.

Client Acquisition Position your firm with the capability to be pro-active. When you can deliver targeted marketing and track results, you can transform a prospect into a client. Workflows will automatically trigger logical steps in acquiring a client to ensure that your marketing efforts are executed on a consistent basis.

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.

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 your desire.  A great way to start is by building checklists.  Download our “How To Create Checklists.” 4.24.12Checklists   Checklists get repetitive activities and routines out of your brain, and let it rise above to focus on the hard stuff.

Contact us for assistance to develop, implement or review or new client workflow. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here!
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-Communication ~ Knowledge is Power, But Fruitless if Poorly Communicated. “
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

You are a fantastic multi-tasker!   What used to be a benefit is now in the top 10 of common time management mistakes!

We listed it in our New Years Resolutions NOT to make- ”Do Not promise to multi-task”.  To view our newsletter:   http://eepurl.com/ilLek

Have you hired a new employee because they are great multi-tasker? Are you praising your office manager who is always busy doing five projects at once?  The results of multitasking are documents and projects full of errors.  Survey’s are showing that there is a sixty to eighty percent reduction in productivity levels and a lack of concentration when employees try to multi-task.

What other areas are eating away at your day without you even realizing it?  Like many others, you have probably considered these to be assets to productivity, but in reality they are draining your employee and wasting time.  Do you value the employee who:

  • Has time to take on every project
  • Thrives on busy
  • “Never-takes-breaks”
  • Can never say “no”
  • Micro-manages
  • Gets a rush when they are busy or when the team is on overload

All of the above listed so-called qualities will lead to lower performance levels, lower team morale and stress in the firm.  They are merely misleading you to believe that effective people are busy.  The reality is that this busy addiction rarely means that you are effective and again leading to more stress in your firm.

Consider each of these so called assets in your employee a waste of time!  Train yourself, your managers, and your team to re-evaluate their time management systems.  Have everyone in the firm take a personal time-management quiz, and learn to slow down, focus, and provide quality instead of quantity.

 Other areas that you will want to evaluate:

·         How You Manage Distraction – employees can lose up to 2 hours a day from distractions

·         Procrastination – if a task seems too big, dedicate a small time each day towards the task and complete the task over time.

·         Scheduling Tasks – schedule low-energy work (like checking your email, returning calls, etc.) to the time of day when your energy level is at its’ lowest

·         Goal Setting

·         To-Do Lists

Time management really boils down to knowing how you can schedule your time effectively.  Know what your daily priorities are and know your goals.  By being aware of priorities and goals you will be able to create a schedule that is beneficial for you and your firm.  The next quality to teach your current employees or to look for in a new hire is……time management skills.

 

Ironstone has several aides available for your firm in developing healthy, productive time management skills.  Download our Time Management Survey Here!   TimeManagement

 

We want to hear from you!  What strategies are you using to improve your time-management skills?

 

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-Culture In Your Workplace: What Culture Are You Cultivating At Your Firm?  Healthy or Toxic?

 



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Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm

Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm. 

Do you have a defined clear answer that inspires questions?  If you can describe to someone in a sentence or two what your business does and why it is valuable, you probably have a strong unique value proposition. 

Branding and Value Propositions create a distinct fingerprint that sets your practice apart.  Ensure your firms brand uniqueness while effectively meeting client needs and creating the value promised.  You need to think about the value you offer to clients by determining;

What are their needs and how will you satisfy those needs?

Position yourself as someone who understands where your clients and prospects are coming from, where they are going, and what they need along the journey to reach their destination.  Some examples:

  • Ease nervousness during market volatility
  • Relieve their major concerns about retirement
  • Ensure their legacy will live on for the next generation

A value proposition cannot be a vague description of the products and services that you offer.  YOU need to tell them the results they will get from you.

To help you- here are a few guidelines to follow while creating your value proposition

  • Create Interest
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors (You will not be able to accomplish this based on products alone.)
  • Focus on your client’s point of view

Keep in mind that your value proposition should identify solutions to meet the needs that your clients are facing.

How does your brand fit in with your value proposition?  If your brand position is successful, overtime, your brand logo will symbolize your value. 

Many firms do not convey their message in a clear and concise manner.  Ironstone will help you make sure you are not in that situation.  

We want to hear from you!  What is YOUR unique value proposition?

 

 

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:  Operational Effectiveness-Time Management