7 Priceless Tips For Financial Advisors Who Want A "Lifestyle" Practice...
If you’re a financial advisor and you want to build a business that suits your needs, make sure you read this article in its entirety.
What I’m about to share may anger some of you, but I’m OK with that, because it’ll help countless others.
Here’s the deal: The financial services industry is changing rapidly, and there are many financial advisors who want to build lifestyle practices — i.e., businesses owned and managed by founders who aren’t interested in scaling to the moon.
These people want stable businesses which throw off a healthy income to support them. In fact, several of my Inner Circle members fit into this model because they enjoy all the perks that come with it. They can design their businesses to suit their needs, not the other way around. So, if you’re interested in creating a lifestyle practice, here are some tips...
1. Focus On Your Productivity
This tip is so important, I literally made it tip #1 in 57 Marketing Tips For Financial Advisors (which you can get for free here).
One definition of productivity is “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”
I want you to notice how this definition doesn’t say anything about having twenty different to-do lists, productivity apps, or browser extensions. At its core, productivity is about getting more OUTPUT from the same level of INPUT. And as a financial advisor, your income is closely tied to how productive you are.
Your input may be sending an email out to your list of three hundred prospects. If you can raise your output to twenty appointments instead of five, you will have quadrupled your productivity. Your input may be sending out one hundred direct mail pieces. If you tweak your headline and body copy to get three phone calls instead of one, you will have tripled your productivity.
Because of this, effective marketing and business-building as a financial advisor means you must be in a state of constant and never-ending improvement, especially if you want a lifestyle financial planning practice that grows with you.
It also means that you must continually “level up” your hourly rate. I don’t necessarily mean raising your fees (although that can help). I mean striving to focus on higher and higher value tasks that contribute more to your business.
For example, let’s assume a financial advisor divides up his income and discovers that he makes an average of $40 per hour. This doesn’t mean he’s working on $40 per hour tasks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. I’ve discovered that, most of the time, a financial advisor’s workday looks like this:
Work on $20 per hour tasks for 80% of the day and $120 per hour tasks for 20% of the day.
If you do the math, you’ll realize this still works out to $40 per hour. However, the key to increasing productivity is identifying the activities generating more than your hourly average and focusing on those. Doing so can lead to a quantum leap in your income (or allow you to work fewer hours if you so choose).
ALSO READ: 10 Of My Favorite Productivity Tools For Financial Advisors
2. Leverage Technology To Become More Efficient
It’s amazing to see the things that can be automated today that had to be done manually twenty years ago.
For example, more and more financial advisors are ditching seminar marketing for webinars that can be automated and scaled. I don’t blame them - an evergreen webinar can work for you whether you’re working, sleeping, or on vacation. It doesn’t care. It just works.
Plus, a webinar can help build your email list.
Speaking of building an email list, email marketing is one of the best ways for financial advisors to leverage technology, because it takes the same time to reach 1,000 people via email as it does to reach 100.
You can also set up an autoresponder sequence to follow up with prospects with no direct involvement on your part — all you have to do is write the emails, put them into your sequence and let the machine do the hard work for you.
I even take my own advice: When people subscribe to my email list, they’re added to an autoresponder sequence that introduces them to some of the most effective ways to get more clients. I want everyone to go through this sequence, because it’s important for them to know certain things before being exposed to my regular broadcast emails.
Email marketing automates the problem of not following up. Depending on the study you read, almost nobody follows up more than five times. Yet, most sales (or appointments for financial advisors) are made after the fifth contact. See the dilemma here?
By instituting an automated follow-up sequence, you can solve this problem and increase revenue without changing anything else.
💡 By the way, if you’re interested in seeing my unique, three-step process for converting cold prospects into booked appointments for financial advisors, register for the webinar here.
Another piece of technology every financial advisor should use — particularly when building a lifestyle business — is customer relationship management software (CRM).
If used effectively, a CRM can be your second brain. It’ll help you store all the valuable information about your prospects and clients, including birthdays, important reminders, follow-up notes and more.
Here are a few ways a CRM can increase your productivity:
🔑 The CRM I recommend is Capsule, and you can read more about it here: The Best CRM For Financial Advisors
3. Be More Selective With Your Clients
Even though I’m known as the “financial advisor marketing” guy, there are times when you should turn away clients. This goes double for financial advisors who want a lifestyle practice.
Once upon a time, an Inner Circle newsletter subscriber told me how even though the marketing methods I discuss in the newsletter are working well for him, he’s attracting clients who don’t meet his $250K minimum.
He told me it was difficult for him to turn away smaller prospects, because he feels like he needs them as clients. Unfortunately, he was operating with a scarcity mindset.
Remember, a short-term win can turn into a long-term loss, so turning people away can sometimes be the best thing you do. How?
When my Inner Circle member took on those smaller clients, he gave away his valuable time and resources for less money — the incremental revenue wouldn’t justify the additional work.
At the end of the day, you have to look at the opportunity cost of your actions. This means you have to avoid some opportunities so you can hold out for bigger ones. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies, and I encourage all financial advisors to apply that mindset to your businesses.
If you want to build a lifestyle practice, I invite you to harness the power of exclusivity.
While I’m a big believer in attraction marketing, I’m an even bigger believer in repulsion marketing. I’ve found if you can repel the wrong types of people out of your life, the right types become even more attracted to you.
Besides, the secret to becoming more exclusive is all about excluding people — being more selective.
Here’s how it can benefit you: Let’s say you’re a financial advisor with strict account minimums. If someone comes to you who doesn’t meet those minimums, you should respectfully and politely turn that person away while letting them know you’re open to helping anyone they may know who meets those minimums — I know of several instances where handling this situation correctly led to referrals.
ALSO READ: 5 Best Niches For Financial Advisors
4. Hire Support Staff
With all else being equal, I would rather run a business with fewer employees. Many financial advisors feel the same way; however, building a lifestyle business may require you to hire a person or two.
You don’t have to grow a mega-firm, but you may want some help along the way. If that’s the case, I suggest hiring a virtual assistant (VA).
There are many ways virtual assistants can help you. For example, they can:
If you want more suggestions on how to hire a virtual assistant, listen to episode 56 of the “Financial Advisor Marketing” podcast. In this episode, I talk with Danielle Cuomo (founder of Virtual Assist USA) about how financial advisors can leverage VAs to get more done.
5. Pick Marketing Strategies That Match Your Personality
This is a piece of advice you’ll never hear from the “experts!” out there: make sure your marketing matches YOU. I once heard a story about legendary speaker Zig Ziglar that illustrates this concept perfectly…
He used to do a “bad” thing. Something that offended a lot of people, and it was something he did in every speech.
What was it, you ask?
It was giving his Biblical testimony.
(To be clear: I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not. Religion itself has nothing to do with what I’m trying to illustrate here, so spare me any diatribes.)
When Zig first started speaking, people would take him aside and tell him not to do it, that he was going to offend a lot of people, how he was going to lose corporate gigs, etc.
Well, guess what?
For more than forty years, Zig Ziglar was the single most successful motivational speaker in history.
So, why did it work so well?
As best as I can surmise, it’s because Zig stayed true to himself. People could see that he was genuine. Do with this information what you want, but I will say this…
This goes double for financial advisors. If you’re trying to fake ANYTHING about your business, you’re only hurting yourself. People can see right through it, whether they explicitly tell you so or not.
Here’s another example…
Several years ago, a financial advisor reached out to book me for a 30-minute consulting call because he wanted my advice on creating a client appreciation event.
He was telling me that he knew several financial advisors who were doing wine tasting events with great success. Yet, there was one problem…
This financial advisor HATED wine. So, wine tastings were out the window for him. That’s why I suggest he take the wine tasting model and substitute wine for something he liked.
He chose whiskey.
Months later, he wrote me back letting me know that he’s had several whiskey tastings and they’ve all been massive successes.
Imagine this guy trying to do wine tastings, even though he despises wine. He would hate it and it would be an uphill battle. Yet, when he decided to do something he enjoyed (whiskey tastings) it didn’t feel like “work”. He was able to commit 100% because his marketing strategy aligned with his personal preferences.
Another example is when financial advisors try to “dial for dollars” even though they aren’t wired for cold calling. Some people aren’t naturally outgoing. It’s their nature. It’s neither good nor bad.
(ALSO READ: 11 Lucrative Cold Calling Tips For Financial Advisors)
But the problems begin when they try to fight their nature. Doing so makes things twice as hard.
The solution is to use marketing and prospecting strategies which more naturally align with your personality.
In my experience, a common method is using LinkedIn to get more clients. It’s not aggressive, it’s not pushy, and it enables you to establish value long before you have an appointment (which makes people more likely to become clients). Plus, it allows you to do research on your prospects, which many financial advisors say makes them more comfortable.
To be 100% transparent, LinkedIn marketing is NOT for everyone, but if it more naturally aligns with your personality, it’ll make building your business much easier.
6. Focus On Differentiation
Standing out from the crowd likely didn’t work in your favor on the schoolyard, but as a financial advisor, it’s the way to build a successful lifestyle practice.
If I had to put a number on it, I’d estimate about half to three-quarters of financial advisors with lifestyle practices think they’ve fully differentiated themselves from the competition — in reality, people can’t tell them apart from the next generalist financial adviser.
Why? Because they all say and do the same things!
To differentiate yourself from other advisors, use strategies unique to your business to break through the noise to reach and appeal to your end-user. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a niche.
Yup, you’ve definitely heard (and read) this advice before, but there’s a reason why: Niches really work.
When you niche down, your business path gets clearer and better. Because you market to a certain type of person rather than everyone with a pulse, your marketing gets easier and responses typically increase. You’ll also know exactly how to target online ads and where to send your direct mail pieces.
Heck, it even becomes clearer to your prospects that they should work with someone like you. If you’re a financial advisor who only works with physicians, for example, your physician prospects will instantly recognize that you help people just like them.
Plus, when you decide to work on your goal to build a lifestyle practice, you can explain to clients you'll have more time to focus on them, because you plan to limit your business to a smaller number of clients.
That's a lot more appealing than someone who’ll take anyone who can fog a mirror.
💡 Learn more about niches with my video product, Deep Dive Into Niche Marketing: How Financial Advisors Can Choose And Dominate Any Niche
7. Stay True To Your Values
Ultimately, your business is yours, and only you know it as well as you do. Sure, I’m an expert, and I give you advice I think can help you grow — but you don’t have to take any of it, because it’s more important to stay true to yourself and your values.
Knowing your values and what you stand for helps define how you build your lifestyle practice within the confines of what you want.
Whether you want to set a goal to end each workday by 5 p.m., have every Friday off or take one month off per year, you have to know the goal and the value behind it to build your business around it successfully.
The other part of this is to figure out how much money you want to earn from your business. That way, you have a number to target.
Here’s what I recommend: Tally up how much your dream lifestyle costs. Include everything, like cars, houses, taxes, vacations, insurance, entertainment, healthcare and more. Whatever number you get, double it, then set goals around how to achieve that income with your lifestyle practice.
Will it be easy? Nope, and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who says it will. Building and growing a worthwhile business takes effort, plus you have to operate within the boundaries of your situation and goals.
Pro-tip: Keep your expenses low as you grow, but that might not be an issue for some of you who earn enough money to support your business.
Use Your Lifestyle Business To Take More Time Off With These Three Tips...
On an episode of my Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, “How Financial Advisors Can Take More Time Off and Gain Time Freedom,” I talk about how to take advantage of the reason you started your own business in the first place: to run it on your own terms.
Not to toot my own horn, but this is some of the best advice I can possibly give when it comes to how to take time off and gain true freedom as a financial advisor. So… toot, toot.
1. Eliminate Tasks That Don't Move The Needle
Ironically, this might take you quite a bit of time to figure out — but when you do, you and your business will be better off.
Start here: Write out everything you do on a daily basis, then identify the work that doesn’t produce the results you want. As obvious as this may seem, many financial advisors fail to realize that productivity is all about production.
While it can also be about getting more stuff done in less time, your key focus with productivity is to do more with less and get the same result.
That’s why it’s so important to write your tasks out and visualize them — you’ll have better clarity around work that’s worthwhile to prioritize, and work that isn’t. Plus, any time you have a new task, you can add it to the list and decide whether it's worth it to continue doing it.
If you’re a financial advisor who uses a daily planner or to-do list, even better: All you have to do is go through your planner and look at the work you've done, then highlight every low-value activity.
💡 When you focus on higher and higher value tasks that contribute more to your business, it also means you continually level up your hourly rate — and I don’t mean by raising your fees, although that can help.
For example, let’s assume you divide up your income and discover you make an average of $40 per hour.
This doesn’t mean you work on $40-per-hour tasks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. I’ve discovered that most of the time, a financial advisor’s workday looks like this: Work on $20-per-hour tasks for 80% of the day, and $120-per-hour tasks for 20% of the day.
If you do the math, you’ll realize this still works out to $40 per hour; however, the key to increasing productivity is to identify the activities that generate more than your hourly average and focus on those.
Doing so can lead to a quantum leap in your income or enable you to work fewer hours every week.
2. Plan For The Time You Want To Cut
Before you decide on how many business hours you want to reduce, I suggest you start small, because a lot of financial advisors get too aggressive too quickly.
What I mean is you try to take off too much time, or you think you can go from working 60 to 40 hours per week in a month and still reach your current level of production — this is possible, but not right away.
I’ll use myself as an example: I use Toggl to track my time for every business-building task I work on, like recording a podcast episode, writing the Inner Circle newsletter, creating new products or taking calls with financial advisors. Because those tasks move the needle forward, I only run the clock when I’m working on them, rather than time every single thing I do in the office all day.
I definitely used to work 40- to 60-hour weeks, so I get it. But now I only invest 20 to 30 hours per week into my business.
That doesn’t mean I kick my feet up and chillax for the rest of the week; it just means I’ve figured out how not to spend 60 to 70 hours per week in the office for the sake of hustle and grind.
In fact, one of my Inner Circle newsletter members did, too. He emailed me and asked how he could work less but make the same amount of money, so I told him what I’m telling you right now: Slowly but surely cut your time out of your business.
He set a goal to work two hours less each week, so he left the office two hours earlier on Friday in his first week. The next week, he left four hours earlier on Friday — eventually, he could take Fridays off and make the same amount of money.
Little by little, this member learned how to become more productive in the extra time he gave himself. Because he took it slow, he easily started to see all the ways he could increase his productivity.
This can be a reality for any financial advisor, and all you have to do is take one step at a time.
When you drive down the road, you can't see the entire path at once, so you travel a little bit until you see more — the same idea applies to working less, and that's what I do.
3. Outline Your Free Time
Time is freedom. While you can always make more money, you can't get more time, so you have to use it wisely.
So far, I’ve talked about the importance of eliminating tasks that don’t level you up and being methodical when you want to take time away from your business. The final key is to have a plan in place for that time off.
I’ve found that some financial advisors think time freedom means you get to sit around and do nothing all day — that’s why I recommend you outline exactly what you'll do with your free time.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to golf all day or use that time to join workshops and webinars. When you outline that time and know what you want, you can efficiently move it across your schedule if something comes up without losing any productivity time.
Can’t golf on Friday because it’s raining? No big deal. Because you planned it out in advance, you can adjust your schedule and fit it in where it works.
Figure Out What A "Lifestyle" Business Means To You...
I was hesitant to write an article on this topic because a “lifestyle” business means different things to different people.
For some people, it may mean making $100K per year and living in a small home in the Midwest. For others, it may mean making $750K per year with a vacation home by the beach and two exotic cars.
Figure out whatever it means for you, so you have a goal. From there, all you have to do is reverse engineer it and build your business accordingly. A lot easier said than done, I know, but you probably do this type of planning for your clients all the time. Why not do it for yourself? 😄
I hope this helps you and I wish you nothing but the best!