Did you know that top-performing financial advisory teams manage 4.2 times or $213.1 million more in funds compared to their peers? But how did they get there?
At Knowledge Labs, through our Elements of Extraordinary Teamwork program, we are fanatical about what elements make a team extraordinary and helping our clients’ teams not only reach elite status, but to continue to grow even after top status is reached.
With this in mind, we partnered with Cerulli Associates to use data to substantiate what qualities define the most successful teams and identify specific areas of opportunity. The study analyzed 2,800 advisor practices to pinpoint the key elements that elevate an advisory team from ordinary to elite.
We learned that how elite teams manage more assets matters. Among the ways to grow assets to reach elite status, the data shows that elite teams work with higher assets under management (AUM) clients, with a focus on true high-net-worth (HNW) clients, rather than trying to build assets through the sum of a large collection of smaller clients.
Elite teams often access these coveted clients by offering more HNW-focused services to attract high-quality relationships. While that may be intuitive, the harder question to answer is how an already strained team can find the time and resources to offer more of these services.
A key opportunity revealed by the study is that elite teams have an increased focus on process and
specialization to free up resources. For example, 32% of top-quartile teams have at least one investment research resource versus 13% for other teams. An emphasis on process and specialization solves for the most commonly reported challenges among non-elite teams, which include a lack of time, high costs and an excess of operational responsibilities.
Systemization to connect people, process and technology was shown to be a key performance driver. As practices grow in scale, it becomes increasingly important to systematize operations. Working together to build end-to-end processes, documentation, checklists and technology integration ensures consistent and accurate execution, improving not only efficiency, but the overall client experience.
The key is to involve both advisors and staff when defining processes to ensure commitment across all levels. Teams should also start by focusing on their most critical processes, and consistently improve them over time. Examples include conducting client review meetings, new client onboarding, hosting appreciation events, conducting due diligence on a new product and portfolio rebalancing.
Once an efficient process is achieved, teams can work smart in addition to hard, thus creating the extra capacity to add value that attracts HNW clients:
- Spend more time with clients. Top clients appreciate face time. Freeing up time allows advisors to conduct more frequent meetings and go the extra mile by hosting higher quality events.
- Focus on active prospecting and networking instead of referrals. Even in the strongest of relationships, it may feel awkward to put someone on the spot by asking for a referral. By targeting the "right" prospects and delivering an extraordinary prospect experience to win over new clients, advisors can target specific groups that fit their strategic focus.
- Hiring junior advisors. Nearly half of top-quartile teams employ at least one nonproducing junior advisor to help build capacity, compared to 28% of peers. A sound mix of skills, credentials, experience and thought diversity makes for a stronger team and allows for better role clarity for team members. Including a new generation of advisors also creates less uncertainty around succession.
A truly elite practice does not stop once top-quartile goals are achieved. Advisors looking to scale further may continue to increase asset levels. Read more about the study in our recent report in partnership with the Investments & Wealth Institute.
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