ELITE ADVISOR BEST PRACTICES
Four Expert Tips for Working with Expert Teams
Here’s how one advisor built a virtual team of professionals to grow his business and serve his clients
By Jonathan Powell
- Instead of trying to do everything yourself, work with a team of professionals who already have the expertise that your clients need.
- You need just a handful of superior professionals who are the right fit for your clients.
- Most experts are eager to discuss ways to work together.
- Don’t expect instant results—and get the help you need in order to succeed.
It’s no easy task addressing the vast and varied needs of today’s affluent investors and their families. That’s why elite advisors make a point of building professional networks of outside experts to help them provide exceptional value to their clients.
Expert teams make perfect sense. Instead of trying to do everything yourself (and stretching yourself too thin trying to deliver a great experience), it’s much smarter to work with a team of professionals who already have the expertise that your clients need. What’s more, you can handpick a virtual team of free-agent experts available to work with you on a case-by-case basis.
That’s what advisor Armand J. Del Medico did a few years ago. His core group of team members includes a CPA, a trust and estate attorney, a family law/matrimonial expert, and an insurance specialist. He even has professionals “on the bench” in case their area of expertise is required. This has allowed him to expand his capabilities and grow much faster than he had been doing when he worked more one- dimensionally. In fact, his largest referral ever resulted from his professional network—a client that contributed 30 percent to asset and revenue growth in 2013. The experience of working with his professional network has branded Armand as a “transitions expert” in the field.
Based on Armand’s experience, here are four points to keep in mind as you set out to create your own highly successful professional network of expert team members.
1. Focus on quality, not quantity. You don’t need a network with ten so-so professionals who will do an average job. You need just a handful of superior professionals who are the right fit for your clients and who fully believe in the potential to add value using a team approach. Armand reports that he spent many hours meeting with potential expert team members to find the right ones—in his case, professionals with an entrepreneurial approach and attitude who were devoted to doing right by the client—and “get them on the bus.”
In fact, at CEG, we recommend that advisors building professional networks look for four qualities in prospective team members:
- High-end expertise. This is both to ensure you maximize your chances of getting business and that the solutions crafted are truly effective.
- The ability to work well together—with you as team leader and with other members. Expert team members must also be able to support each other’s efforts and always work in the best interests of clients.
- The ability to work well with clients.You must be able to bring your team members and clients together and not worry about the possibility of being embarrassed by the team members.
- Noncompetitive outlook. Members of your network cannot compete with you—period. So your insurance specialist, for example, cannot manage money in any way, shape or form.
2. The other professionals aren’t doing you a favor. Initially, Armand feared that he was asking a lot to meet once a quarter with attorneys and other professionals who charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their time to discuss building an expert network. He worried he might underdeliver to them. But Armand soon discovered that, just like him, these professionals also were looking for smart ways to serve ultra-high-net-worth clients better and grow their businesses. Indeed, most of the other experts were eager to discuss ways to work together once they understood the level of expertise and professionalism Armand brought to the table as a CFP® and wealth management professional. These quarterly “Professional Network Meetings” have served as a strong referral base for each contributing member.
3. Don’t expect overnight results. Building a professional network takes a lot of work and time. In Armand’s case, it took three years to get going. But, he says, the benefits in terms of the level of expertise you bring to clients, the enhanced credibility in the marketplace and the level of collaboration have been completely worth it. The ultra-affluent expect services beyond investment advice, and the expert team allows him to do that. Stick with it, even through the challenges.
4. Get help if you need it. Armand admits that his progress was slow at times, but that he made strides because of encouragement—and sometimes downright pushing—from his professional coach, who held him accountable and helped identify the strengths he brought to the process that ultimately fueled his success.
In the end, an expert team can give you the resources you need to truly deliver WOW service that differentiates your practice from the pack.