Coaching has become a booming international industry. Whether you want to lose weight, become a public speaker, build healthier relationships, organize your home or learn to golf better, there’s a coach ready to help you. The financial services industry is no different. Three financial advisors recently discussed what they gained from participating in coaching programs and shared advice for others.
Maximizing His Book
Louis Mancinelli joined his first coaching program in 2015 after more than three decades in the industry. The Green Brook, New Jersey, advisor participated in Next Level, a nine-month business growth coaching program from his broker-dealer, Securities America.
Among the course’s 30 different tactics for achieving more success, Mancinelli chose three to focus on first.
“One tactic taught me to rediscover existing clients,” he said. “I went back and did client reviews that were organized to build business and discovered assets I’d missed. Thanks to another, I implemented the NextPhase Retirement Income Strategy, a time-segmented, inflation-adjusted strategy that provides a balance of investment choices with different complementary risk and growth opportunities. That differentiated me from other advisors in the area and led to more referrals. Finally, the program encouraged me to lay out a marketing plan for 48 weeks. I’d never had the courage to do that because I wasn’t confident about executing a 48-week plan that involved seven to 10 events.”
The program also encouraged Mancinelli to document procedures, which allowed him to bring in an associate advisor and delegate specific jobs like creating reports.
“Although I’ve been very blessed throughout my career,” Mancinelli said, “I wish I’d had access to this program 15 years ago. I don’t know if I look and sound different, but I’m having my best production months ever.”
Becoming More Efficient
Rick Stram, CFP®, CMFCSM, AAMS®, co-managing director at Marino, Stram & Associates in Braintree, Massachusetts, brought coaches into his office. Allowing his entire staff to participate in coaching got everyone on the same page and opened up communication. Since the training, the firm has regular team meetings and standup sub-team meetings. The administrative staff now feels comfortable voicing concerns as they arise.
Stram said one of the program’s greatest benefits was a detailed plan for segmenting clients.
“We had always thought about that in the past,” he said, “but it was easy to fly through each day responding to clients’ requests without stopping to evaluate who we wanted to serve and how. We are more deliberate now. We divided our book into four segments and created a contact system in our Client Relationship Management system. We realized equal isn’t always fair.
“Great clients deserve as much attention as we can give them,” he said. “We’ll always be available to every level of client for necessities like setting up a required minimum distribution. But we won’t proactively schedule meetings as frequently or send as many holiday gifts, handwritten cards or high-touch communications to lower level clients.”
His broker-dealer’s coaching for associate advisors and HR Advantage program have provided further efficiency by allowing Stram to delegate more tasks.
“Although we have a great team,” he said, “we’re all busy doing our own jobs. So it’s great to offer a new associate an educational track and another go-to resource who has experience training advisors. The human resources program has been helpful in a competitive job market. We’ve listed our opening for an assistant on job sites and worked with recruiters, but we want to have as many lines in the water as possible. And it’s very helpful to have help from someone in the industry who knows how complex the role is.”
Building Profitable Alliances
After reading and implementing recommendations from Ron Carson’s book, “Tested in the Trenches,” Elinor Ho, ChFC®, ChSNC™, principal advisor with Secure Planning Strategies in Southfield, Michigan, wasn’t sure how much she would benefit from coaching. She was already highly organized and had segmented her clients. But coaching from her broker-dealer pushed her harder and helped her focus even more.
“One of the things that helped me most,” Ho said, “was learning how to build professional alliances. My coach told me what to say to break the ice with another professional and how to strengthen the relationship. Now I have a great arrangement with a CPA. I introduce clients to her, and I work with her clients who refer additional clients to me. During tax season, I send a fruit basket to brighten her day when the pressure is on.”
Each year, Ho looks forward to a day-long meeting with other alumni of the coaching program before the broker-dealer’s annual national conference. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to listen to a group of smart advisors share their best practices and get new ideas to take back to my practice,” she said.
Is Coaching Right For You?
Mancinelli believes coaching is vital whether you’re fairly new to the business or well-seasoned.
“On our own, it’s too easy to work in our business and not on it,” he said. “If you’ve been at it a short time, you may need organizational help. After an extended career, you probably need to get out of the forest to look at the trees. Whatever stage you’re at, it’s important to embrace it fully. When I attend coaching workshops, I may not say two words. I’m in listening mode. And the accountability of knowing my coach will be calling every few weeks helps me embrace the challenges set forth.”
As someone committed to continual growth, Ho is another advocate for coaching.
“We work in a lonely business, making our own judgment calls every day,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have a cheerleader and teacher who can provide an objective, honest opinion. It’s not just about making money. If you’re humble enough to listen and willing to commit the time to do the assignments, a good coaching program can help you work smarter and push you to excel. Sometimes you need to jump into the deepest end of the pool to learn how to swim.”
When asked how advisors can evaluate whether they would benefit from coaching and how they can find a program that meets their needs, Ho said she talked to advisors who had participated in coaching from a variety of sources before choosing the program she participated in.
Mancinelli said Securities America’s promise to refund the cost of its Next Level program if advisors met growth objectives convinced him the broker-dealer was confident about the course’s effectiveness and committed to his success.
Depending on what an advisor is hoping to gain, Stram believes many different types of coaching programs can be beneficial. A general business consultant, for example, may provide high-level organizational or marketing insights. But because he had more specific needs, he saw benefit in working with coaches from his broker-dealer, who are familiar with the industry and have experience working with firm systems and programs.
Ready to commit?
If growth was easy, everyone would excel. A good coach knows a certain level of pain is usually required and convinces you it’s worth the effort.
As Tom Landry once said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”