Happy Holidays from Brinker Capital

Noreen D. BeamanNoreen D. Beaman, Chief Executive Officer, Brinker Capital

I wanted to take a moment to wish all of our advisors, the clients they serve, our strategic partners, and all friends of Brinker Capital, a wonderful holiday season.

We are thankful for the many partnerships we have with you and the continued support you show us. We are looking forward to another year of commitment to taking great ideas and applying a strong discipline to provide better outcomes.

On behalf of Brinker Capital, Happy Holidays!

> Watch the video here


Brinker Capital at the Financial Services Institute OneVoice 2014 Conference

Noreen BeamanNoreen Beaman, Chief Executive Officer

In June, we announced Brinker Capital as a Premier Sponsor of the Financial Services Institute (FSI), a voice of independent financial services firms and independent financial advisors.  FSI’s mission is to ensure that all individuals have access to competent and affordable financial advice, products and services.

FSI’s OneVoice 2014 Conference kicks off next week in Washington, D.C. where Brinker Capital is proud to be a Premier Sponsor as well as a presenter.  OneVoice is FSI’s annual conference for the independent broker/dealer community to network and gain knowledge of the latest within the industry.

FSI OneVoice Conference 2014We are honored to have our Vice Chairman, John Coyne, chosen as a panelist for the Alternative Investment panel; our Vice President of Business Administration, Brendan McConnell, as a panelist to share insight on the latest technology tools to help advisors gain efficiencies; and behavioral finance expert, Dr. Daniel Crosby, as a presenter on understanding investor behavior.

This year’s conference promises to be a good one as FSI celebrates 10 years of advocacy for independent financial service advisors and firms.  We look forward to seeing many of you there!

Financial Advisors Finally Confident in U.S. Economy, Q3 Brinker Barometer Finds

We have the results of our third quarter 2013 Brinker Barometer® survey, a gauge of financial advisor confidence and sentiment regarding the economy, retirement savings, investing and market performance.

For the full press release, please click here, but in the meantime check out the infographic below for some of the highlights:

BrinkerBarometer3Q2013_WebFINAL

Question Framing and its Role in Retirement Planning

Sue BerginSue Bergin

Many advisors attribute their success to their ability to listen and to ask the right questions.  Knowing the questions to ask, and when and how to ask them, are at the heart of the retirement planning and relationship building process.

When helping a client prepare for retirement, for example, you probably ask clients when they plan to retire and how long they think they are going to live.  You may not have realized this, but the way the question is framed impacts the answer.

John W. Payne of Duke University, recently found that people would give significantly different answers about their longevity depending upon how the question is asked.

questionsPayne’s study participants gave themselves a 55% chance of living beyond age 85.  When the question was framed differently, their answers were far more pessimistic.  Study participants gave themselves a 68% chance of dying by the age 85, which translates to only 32% chance of living to age 85.[1]

In her Harvard Business Review Blog, “How to Frame a Question for Maximum Impact,” Melissa Reffoni suggests that we think about the metaphor behind the concept of question framing.

A frame focuses attention on the painting it surrounds. Different frames draw out different aspects of the work. Putting a painting in a red frame brings out the red in the work; putting the same painting in a blue frame brings out the blue. How someone frames an issue influences how others see it and focuses their attention on particular aspects of it.”[2]

By framing the question in the, “what age will you live to” context, you bring clarity to the retirement planning task.  Their attention is focused on life post-work, not when they are going to die.


The War Against Your Credibility

Sue BerginSue Bergin

While you were enjoying some quiet family time on Sunday morning, America’s most read magazine was advising its readership to dump you.

In an article “How to save $1,000 this year,” Parade magazine tells its 33 million readership that the average investor could save $750 if they moved to a self-directed IRA.

In case you missed it, here is the excerpt:advice ahead

Shed Investment Fees

It’s one of the quickest ways to save …. Consider rolling over 401(k) assets from old jobs into a self-directed IRA.  Since the average 401(k) is $75,0000 saving 1 percent makes sense.  Potential Savings:  $750 per year.

The article fails to mention is that the average U.S. individual stock investor doesn’t fare very well.  In fact, they typically get significant lower returns than the S&P.  Over a recent five-year period, the average U.S. investor got an annual return of just 1.9%, while the S&P 500 returned 8.4%.[1]

The do-it-yourself investment management trend is gaining momentum in the media.  This is just the latest example.  Know that there is a war being waged against your credibility and the value you bring to your relationships.

Fight back.


[1] The Most Destructive Behavioral Bias, Summer 2012, The Journal of Investing

Preparing for a New Year: The Importance of Goal Setting

Bev FlaxingtonBev Flaxington, The Collaborative

Whether you run an advisory firm with two people – or 200 people – setting goals and determining your desired outcomes for 2013 is critical. Most people think about goal setting in terms of the numbers – how many new clients do we want? How much in AUM? What should our profitability per client be? These are all very important and should be included, but don’t forget to put an emphasis on qualitative goals, too.

goals

What are qualitative goals? You want to think about things such as:

(1)    What do you want your advisory firm to stand for? It seems to be a given that you would want to be trustworthy and responsive to clients, but what else matters to you? Do you want to be leading edge in investment offerings? Do you want to be known as proactive and anticipatory of client needs, instead of just responsive? Do you want to be a value provider – low cost with high service? Think in terms of reputation and define what you would like your firms to be.

(2)    What kind of culture do you want to have in your firm? Many people think culture evolves naturally and cannot be defined. Culture evolves in a directed way, when the firm puts emphasis on it. Aspects of firm culture could include team orientation, or fast decision-making, or a willingness to take risks (with compliance support of course!) or innovation. Take a moment to examine your culture now – see if you can identify the traits associated with it. Now take a moment to define what you would like it to be. What is the “gap”? Where do you need to make shifts? Note these and incorporate them into your planning process.

(3)    What is the client experience at your firm? When writing marketing materials we often ask about the client experience. What is it like for a new client to join your firm? What happens to them step-by-step? Again, this can evolve as your firm goes about its daily business of serving clients, but it can be a powerful aspect if you define it at the outset, instead of just letting it evolve. How often do you want to touch clients? What do you want to be doing at each touchpoint? How do you want clients to describe their experience in working with you? What three words would best capture what it is like to be a client of yours? Be illustrative in defining this so that someone else can actually picture or imagine what it feels like, or looks like to be a client of your firm.

(4)    What is the firm’s mission for this year? What do you want to accomplish in addition to serving clients well and finding new revenue? Do you want to be a market leader? Do you want to be known among the competition in a certain way? Do you want to raise the firm’s profile and be more engaged in PR (public relations) and media relations? Think outside of just the business development goals to broader, market-oriented goals

Thinking about these qualitative aspects takes time. It can be a great exercise to have other members of your firm join you in identifying these aspects and defining them. Even if you have only one other person in the firm, bring that person into the planning process. Most importantly if you take the time to think about any of these qualitative pieces, take the time to write them down. Use them as your guideposts for next year to help you navigate where you want to go.

Good luck for much success in 2013.

You: The Key to Better Investment Returns…and More

Sue BerginSue Bergin

John Hancock’s recent Investor Sentiment Survey demonstrates that over half of investors who use an advisor are confident (56%) that doing so will lead to better investment returns.[1]

How’s that for a confidence boost?

The study also gives us tremendous insights into why clients choose to work with financial advisors and highlights the importance of three factors:

  1. Realistic assessment of one’s own investment management capabilities
  2. Confidence in advisors’ ability to generate better returns than the individual could do themselves and add value to the process
  3. Time constraints

A significant number of participants who work with advisors (47%) do so to obtain a comprehensive financial plan and for validation that their financial decisions are on track.   They tend a need to have a professional’s stamp of approval on their decisions.  This is a moderate showing of confidence in his or her own ability and reveals a willingness to seek and listen to advice.

You Are The Key37% of those working with advisors claim to do so because they lack the knowledge to manage their own investments.  43% of the respondents who do not have an advisor chose to go at it alone because they feel like they can manage comfortably on their own.

36% of the “do-it-yourself” group said that they did not think advisors provided good value for their money.

Working with An Advisor

No Advisor

56% believe working with an advisor will lead to better investment returns 43% have confidence in their own abilities and therefore do not need to work with an advisor
47% seek comprehensive financial planning advice and to validate financial decisions 40% actually enjoy the process
36% acknowledge they couldn’t manage investments on their own 36% lack confidence in advisors
24% don’t have the time

Few people think they could perform surgery on their own knee, but many investors believe they could get comparable results without a professional’s assistance. Technological innovations are only going to fuel that sentiment by making it easier and more fun than ever for the do-it-yourselfers.  The key for advisors is to focus on your unique qualification and the value you add to the relationship.

Instill confidence in your abilities, so theirs are never even considered.


[1] John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey, January 7, 2013

Getting Into the Mind of Today’s Affluent

Matt Oechsli

“Not coming from an affluent background, my mother was a teacher and my father worked construction. I’ve never been part of the country club scene,” explained Harry, then asked “How do the affluent think?  Shouldn’t you have money to advise people with money?”

Harry was hitting on an issue that has troubled advisors for years; the proverbial white elephant in the room.   Many advisors are uncomfortable in affluent spheres of influence, especially when it comes to marketing their services.  Why?  Because, like Harry, most advisors come from middle class backgrounds.  Thus many advisors suffer from some form of social self-consciousness, which left unchecked will interfere with their potential growth as an advisor.

As I explained to Harry, once you have a basic understanding of today’s affluent, it’s much easier to advise them on their family’s finances.  When done well, it becomes much easier to acquire more affluent clients.  The following are three affluent truths that will help you get into the mind of today’s affluent.

It appeared that Harry had a lot going for him.  He was a true professional; he was knowledgeable and looked the part.  His challenge was giving himself permission to ply his services in affluent circles.

Mapping Your Social Network by Matt Oechsli @MattOeschsli

by: Matt Oechsli

If you’re serious about targeting today’s affluent investor, it’s time to get social. We’ve become addicted to our digital toys (iPads, BlackBerrys, etc.), and social media is elbowing onto center stage. Our research tells us today’s affluent want to know their advisor on a social level in addition to their professional role.

Because the human species is such a social animal, you wouldn’t think this would be an issue for advisors. Yet many advisors are behind the curve when it comes to socializing with affluent clients, referral alliance partners, and prospects. Our research shows that investors clearly are more likely to introduce someone they know to their advisor if the investors have both a business and personal relationship with the advisor, as opposed to a relationship that was exclusively business.

Our research also shows that elite advisors intuitively recognize the importance of social media technology, and they’re early adopters. It’s the essence of both relationship management and relationship marketing. Today’s reality is that advisors who have both a business and a personal relationship with their affluent clients have more centers-of-influence penetration.

This data reinforces what we’ve learned from our rainmaker research—social prospecting in affluent circles today is what cold calling was some 25 years ago; it’s what public seminars were about some 15 years ago. And yet, at a recent workshop we sponsored on best practices of elite advisors, it was obvious that socializing in affluent circles made some advisors uncomfortable. Among the questions: “When do you talk about business? What social activities should you engage in?Do you mean that we’re supposed to mix business with pleasure?”

Socializing is directly linked to word-of-mouth-influence (WOMI), and advisors need to understand the importance of WOMI in affluent decision-making. It’s the high-octane fuel that activates the process; relationship management (affluent clients) and relationship marketing (penetrating affluent COIs) are inextricably linked in stimulating positive WOMI. This is a gift. Why? Because advisors can now schmooze with their top clients, meet their friends in a non-threatening environment, develop rapport, build personal relationships, and transition their clients’ friends into new clients. Knowing “who knows whom” is what mapping your affluent client’s social networks is all about.

Social network analysis

A quick glimpse into the budding field of social network analysis highlights the innate power of WOMI. Social network analysis, the study of social relationships between individuals and groups, goes back to the ancient Greeks. Modern theories arrived in the early 1900s, and today scientists study its implications in everything from relationships within high schools to the spread of disease.

We find this fascinating. Think about your web of contacts for a moment and ask yourself four questions:

1) If you were to chart your relationships with your top 25 clients, how many have both a business and personal relationship?

2) If you were to chart your social contacts, how many total connections could you list? How many have the means to conduct business with you?

3) If you were to chart your referral alliance partner relationships, how many connections could you list?

4) What type of branding is being broadcast through your social network?

Connected, a book by Drs. Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, shares an example of how social networks play a role in marketing. They tell a story of two piano teachers in Arizona who grew their respective business only through WOMI; they never advertised or promoted their services. At the end of the year, they analyzed their clientele and discovered that 38 percent of their new business came by WOMI from people that hadn’t personally used their services. Their reputation was communicated through friends of friends of their clients—three degrees of separation.

Whether you have 25 or 125 affluent clients, imagine the power of WOMI within your business. Essentially, social prospecting is simply socializing with your affluent clients and prospects in venues that you enjoy, but with strategic intent. The idea is not to discuss business. However, whenever a business conversation surfaces, the social prospecting drill is as follows: listen; if asked, answer questions briefly; gently table that topic for another time; exchange cell phone numbers; set a time and place to discuss business; and continue socializing.

Elite advisors have turned mapping their affluent clients’ social network into an art form. If you allow yourself to get social, you can, too.