Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shaping the News - Great Example of Advisor Leading the Way through Positive PR

Thank goodness the elections are over and we are now able to refocus as a nation on other important matters.

Case in point: Open Enrollment Season.

The average person spends more time planning Thanksgiving dinner than studying their employee benefits package. Many employees spend less than 10 minutes flipping through the glossy benefits brochures before pushing them aside.

Andy Smith, Senior Partner with Cornerstone Financial Partners, Inc., believes that workers may be leaving money on the table and putting their future at risk.

While the mainstream media may be focused on the Wall Street Melt Down and stock market gyrations, Andy Smith and Cornerstone stand out as a "Best Practice Firm."

They are shaping the news and, through a series of positive PR moves, hope to help people understand their options and make better decisions.

Tick tock. Watch the clock!

Read Andy's advice now.It's Open Season on Employee Benefits: Financial Professional Recommends Five Questions Every Employee Should Ask During Open Enrollment

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Helping Your Clients Mitigate Their Money Fears

On October 22, 2008, just as I myself was beginning to feel some trepidation and fear about the fate of my own personal financial situation (and I thought I was immune to this type of worry!), I was blessed to speak with Deborah Price, founder of The Money Coaching Institute.

Deborah and I spoke at length about the two types of fear and what advisors can be doing to not only help their clients through these difficult "bad news" days but to also mitigate their own personal fears.

Listen to 17 minutes of pure insight from Deborah Price, on Helping Your Clients Mitigate Their Money Fears. Then put her suggestions into practice. You'll be glad you did!

Read the article on Morningstar Advisor:

Dealing with Fear in Uncertain Times

Learn about Deborah's book:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Proclaim your independence!

Navigating today’s financial markets and economic situation is difficult for any advisor. But it’s especially complex for financial consultants at the big-brand sales institutions.

Talk about uncertainty. Turmoil. Stress.

The truth of the matter is that there has never been a better time to be an independent advisor. The Wall Street Melt Down and Economic Mess was not created by Main Street Advisors. And now is a really good time to help the general public understand just that.

So, if you are currently an independent advisor, get out and spread the word!

A recently published article in the Wall Street Journal states that a whopping 83% of clients of the large Wall Street firms are considering changing advisors. Independent advisors who have planned and implemented a solid publicity campaign are in a good position to attract new clients.

“Disenchanted clients and big-brand reps are heading for the door,” says Mitch Vigeveno, President of Turning Point, Inc. (, an executive recruiting and industry consulting firm that helps disgruntled (or, on the flip side, visionary) executives and advisors find a new home in the independent broker/dealer world. But according to Vigeveno, evaluating all the choices can be overwhelming. “Without good information and guidance, too many people end up hopping from the frying pan into the fire,” he says.

John Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®, a long-time financial advisor who is also President of independent broker/dealer U.S. Wealth Management LLC (member FINRA/SIPC, adds his advice for the big-brand brokers:

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people – people just like your clients and you know what they are saying? They are telling me that their advisor isn’t as smart as they once thought. ‘Doesn’t he read the headlines? Doesn’t she know that his firm is going down, or has gone down? Doesn’t he know that under new ownership everything will be different?’”

“Clients are really concerned that their advisor really doesn’t care about them,” Napolitano adds. “They think the most important thing to their advisor right now is the advisor’s trailing income – and, frankly, they might be right.”

So here’s the deal:

If you are thinking about going independent, now is a golden time. But, if you’ve been at a wirehouse or other big-name firm, going pure RIA is probably not the right choice.

“Most of the advisors who join us after having left a big firm appreciate the fact that my firm, which functions as a Securities America branch office (one of the nation’s largest, independent broker/dealers, member FINRA/SIPC,, can provide more freedom and flexibility than they’ve had in the past along with a collaborative team environment and all of the big firm services they’ve grown to love,” says Bill Glubiak, managing principal of Cedar Brook Financial Partners LLC (

Cedar Brook is a Private Wealth Management Firm established in July 2005 by 13 people with over 100 years of combined industry experience. With more than 50 financial professionals, Cedar Brook differs dramatically from other independent firms composed of only a few individuals.

“Hybrid advisors – those who are affiliated with an independent broker/dealer yet still licensed to offer fee-based services as either an RIA or an IAR – are going to come out ahead in the long run,” says David Drucker, CFP®, founder of Drucker Knowledge Systems ( Drucker is one of the most visible and best respected speaker/writers in the financial planning industry.

“Whatever your thinking may be, there has NEVER been a better time to change firms. When else do you think that your clients will welcome a stack of paper with ‘sign here’ sticky notes? The time is NOW,” Napolitano says.

So...What's "Going Independent" All About? According to Vigeveno:
  • It's about CHOICE
  • It's about FREEDOM
  • It's about FLEXIBILTY
  • It's about BUILDING EQUITY
  • It's about LIFESTYLE
I'll "second" Vigeveno's list above and add:
  • It's about TRANSPARENCY
  • It's about putting CLIENTS' NEEDS FIRST

John Napolitano wrote the book The Complete Idiots Guide to Success as a Personal Financial Planner (Penguin, December 2007). A sought after speaker in financial planning circles, he delivers dozens of speeches to attentive financial advisor and CPA groups each and every year.

You can sign up for his free newsletter here and access his blog here

I asked John to share some additional insights via a telephone interview I conducted September 26, 2008. John was once a fee-only (no commission) advisor, but returned to an independent broker/dealer model in due time.

Curious to know why?

Click the “play” button to hear our conversation now.

MP3 File

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Communicating with Clients During Turbulent Times - Four Top Advisors Share What They're Doing and Why

Talk about a blizzard.

Americans are being hit by negative news 24/7. The Wall Street Crisis. Hurricane Ike. The sub-prime mortgage mess. Gasoline and household staples sky high. Home prices down. Credit tight. Big name institutions available at fire sale prices. Government bail outs. Business pressure. Layoffs. Angst. And now the final weeks of the presidential election campaign seem to be more circus than serious conversation.

Financial advisors are finding themselves right in the middle of the turmoil.

Anxious clients call for reassurance - even the most discerning investors seem to be unnerved by the constant barrage. Sure the stock market has historically bounced back over time, but could this time be different? And with tidal wave of Baby Boomers marching ever nearer to retirement age, the tension is at an all-time high as people worry about their retirement plans. What to do? What to do?

Four smart, veteran advisors shared their thoughts with me on September 16, 2008, just as the bad news about Lehman Brothers was breaking.

  • What are they hearing from their clients?
  • What are they seeing in the midst of these unprecedented times?
  • What are they telling their clients?

Joining me for a robust conversation were:

  1. Arthur Cooper, Principal of Cooper McManus in Irvine, CA
  2. Bill Glubiak, Principal of Cedar Brook Financial in Cleveland, OH
  3. Clyde Wyatt, Principal of Navigation Financial in Dallas, TX
  4. Don Patrick, Principal of Integrated Financial in Atlanta, GA

These 4 advisors are also Branch Managers for Securities America, Inc., one of the nation's largest, independent broker/dealers (member FINRA, SIPC). This means they are charged with super
vising, training and mentoring other advisors on a daily basis.

The focus of our conversation:
Communicating with Clients During Turbulent Times

If you're reading this post, you absolutely must click the link below to listen to the podcast. It's 30 minutes long but worth every minute.

What should YOU be telling YOUR clients? Listen now:

MP3 File

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grassroots Marketing Strategy Pays Off for Mild-Mannered Advisor

Sometimes it's the simple things that really get results.

When Dennis Davis decided to become a financial advisor 3 years ago, he adopted a simple strategy to build his business. Instead of cold-calling or bugging his friends and family for leads, Dennis used a targeted, grass-roots marketing campaign to get results.

This soft-spoken southern gentleman from Birmingham, Ala., came to be a financial advisor in his mid-40s, as a second career. He'd had no previous experience in financial services; He held no securities or insurance licenses. In fact, he had no furniture, no computers, no clients, and no prospects. For the first six months, he had people sign a letter that acknowledged that he could not give financial advice. As he was getting his training, he tried to find a way to connect with people in an informal, non-selling way.

Inspired by his friend and mentor Rick Kent, CFP, ChFC, AIF, president of Allegiance Advantage Group in Alpharetta, Ga, Davis decided to focus on working people who were five to seven years from retirement who would ultimately be rolling over their 401(k) assets. Kent had gathered more than $150 million in assets under management in less than six years. While other advisors were chasing the high net worth, Kent had attracted a loyal following of middle-income and mass affluent clients using a system that would later be dubbed the Merit Retirement Advantage.

Davis decided to adopt Kent's system. He has been using the Merit network program for about two years. He currently has about $30 million in assets under management — not bad considering his no-pressure approach and the fact that he started with nothing. But the really exciting thing is that Davis has more than $50 million in the pipeline.

The people he’s reached through his marketing program will be retiring in the next five to seven years. Given the relationships he’s built with these people, it’s not a stretch to say that they will be rolling over their 401(k) assets over to him.

"By reaching out to people before they would typically think about engaging an advisor, I have essentially removed the competition from the mix, because I am the known entity--the obvious resource when it's time to roll over retirement assets. And all of this with a flier and a handful of candy!"

Read my article on Morningstar Advisor for a detailed look at Dennis and his approach:

Listen to my Perspectives: Spotlight on Industry Innovators interview with Dennis Davis and Rick Kent:

MP3 File

Visit to learn more.