How Advisors Can Make August Their Seventh Inning Stretch

I grew up in a small Midwestern town, where in August the lawns were browned by the hot sun and the pace was so much slower due to the heat. Here in Philly, most of the city is at the shore (“down the shore,” as they say) during the month. For most of my career, I always planned on August being a slow month.

Now maybe my perception is not reality, maybe (like CPAs) we only have busy season and a busier season, but to me, there always seemed to be fewer demands on my time in August. It’s like the seventh inning stretch. Speaking of…

Summers for me were spent listening to Jack Brickhouse in the early years, and then Harry Caray broadcasting Cub games. Harry Caray turned the seventh inning stretch into an event, as he would provide a brief recap of the game, then start belting out “Take me out to the ball game” in a voice that only fans who have suffered for now over 100 years (and counting) without a World Series win could love. The recap was important; he discussed highlights and showed some replays, and the singing was fun. But if the Cubs were losing, after the song he would always yell, “Now let’s get some runs!”

It’s actually a good game plan for advisors in these hazy days of summer: recap, have some fun and get some runs.

Recap

If you take a look at your book today, are you on track? When I ask that question to many advisors, the first response is usually “On track for what?” What I am asking is: Do you have goals and are you tracking and measuring against those goals? Unfortunately, most track their book by AUM or gross revenue (sometimes GDC).

I have written before about the problem of relying on AUM as a benchmark, as the financial markets can really inflate (or deflate) the AUM of an advisor’s book. We can’t control the markets, so why would we benchmark our business to them?

You’ve heard me quote the PriceMetrix report “The State of the Retail Wealth Management Business – 2014” before, but here’s an important stat from it worth considering. While the average AUM for an advisor increased to $90MM, the average revenue on those assets has been DECREASING over the last 3 years (from 72% in 2011 to 68% in 2013). In other words, while you maybe earning more gross revenue due to the larger AUM, your net may be decreasing.

That’s probably fine in an up market, but those expenses, typically hard or fixed costs, could be a problem in a correction. As I asked you last week, what would happen if your AUM declined by 10%, 20% or more?
To recap, take a look at your business.

  • Are you on track for your goals? (Did you set and keep score?)

  • How is your net vs. gross revenue?

  • Did you find some highlights worth celebrating?

Have some fun

The joy of “Take me out to the ball game” sung by Harry and the fans was not in the song, but rather the tradition – there were 40,000+ of us in the ball park, sharing a moment. Winning or losing, you still had a smile and since the game wasn’t over, there was still hope.

Sometime this month, think about finding a way to share a moment with your team. Your team can be staff, co-workers, COIs, advisory board, or stakeholders. It can be a lunch or dinner, happy hour, or group activity. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something where everyone can be involved. Make it out of the ordinary.

Let’s get some runs!

In my mind, you only have about 3 ½ months left in the year to close out strong. That’s plenty of time to really set yourself up for a stellar 2015. It takes planning, coordination, and time. If August is really a slower month, then you have time, so all you need is the planning and coordination.

Pull out your marketing and activity calendar (if you need an example, email me at Janderson@seic.com and I will send you one) and block off holidays, client meetings, and conferences. Then fill it out with your marketing calendar with proactive events for the rest of the year.

Sample ideas can include:

  • M-W-F of each week: Spend 15 minutes using social media to communicate with clients, prospects, and COIs. Engage with them by sharing content and commenting on posts. Make sure your presence is known in your target markets.

  • Speaking of your target market, is there a common obstacle or concern that they face? Could they use a workshop or educational meeting to discuss? Is there an opportunity to partner with a COI who has the same target to provide a joint program?

  • Schedule small-scale client events. Small-scale events like a dinner with clients and his/her friends are a proven way to market your practice. Next time you see one of your best clients, invite them to a unique dinner and ask them to identify one of their friends that can come along.

  • Look at a year-end client appreciation event. Maybe a Thanksgiving charitable event. An ugly sweater holiday open house or family movie day. Whatever works for you and your clients. For the bigger events you have to start planning now.

I’ve got a lot of other ideas; I’ll save them for another post. Until then, take the time to recap where you are today, celebrate some of the home runs, and then get to work on closing out the game. Let’s get some runs!

John Anderson is a contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network. www.seic.com
 


You may also be interested in:

Year-End Means Thanksgiving & Other Useful Tips (Blog posted by Susan Glover)

Contingency Planning: 3 Steps to Overcome the Obstacles (Blog posted by Mary Ann Buchanan)

Easy Ways to Reframe Rejection (Blog posted by Rosemary Smyth)
 

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