The pursuit of operational efficiency isn’t merely an option – it’s a fundamental requirement. Financial advisors must not only stay attuned to market shifts but also prioritize the relentless enhancement of their internal operations to elevate their client service. Today, we delve into the story of a forward-thinking financial advisor who, by incorporating operational processes into his practice, transformed his own efficiency and the experience he delivers to his clients.
Scott Stevens, President of Eastgate Financial Group, Inc., understands the importance of having his team and offices on the same wavelength – especially with offices in two states. Stevens will admit that he is not a process-oriented person by nature. When he decided to go independent and affiliate with Private Advisor Group in 2015, he knew that he needed to formalize his processes and procedures to run a successful business instead of keeping everything in his head. Stevens needed to create a structure that would allow him to build an effective team where everything didn’t hinge on him.
To get started, Stevens joined an entrepreneurial coaching group that focused on seeking to build unique ability teams and your own unique process. The program provided thinking tools and quarterly workshops to work on your business rather than “in it.” This led Stevens to take the Kolbe assessment. The Kolbe test measures your instinctive way of doing things, which can then define how you and your team deal with work-related problems, adapt to change and initiate problem-solving responses. This was the jumping-off point for Stevens and his team.
His first area of focus was his team members. His staff took the Kolbe assessment to learn the strengths of each team member and who should handle what roles in the practice. Then, the focus was on back/front office operations. Mapping out the client experience they wanted to deliver and then creating the steps and making them repeatable. This has significantly reduced errors, streamlined their workflow, and stayed consistent with process/procedure. Having a solid process created fewer unknowns.
To be intentional with the processes and procedures, Stevens leverages technology with his CRM, a cloud-based document management system for the team to access anywhere, anytime, and outsources solutions such as marketing, paraplanning, and CFO services. Stevens said his CRM “is the brain of our business, directs the daily actions of the team, and delivers the client experience we created by using workflows, templates, and tag groups, and having this process creates fewer unknowns. Stevens values a work-life balance, and by formalizing his processes, the team can continue to run the business, even if someone is out of the office. They have even developed processes for ordering client lunches because it makes life efficient for the entire team.
Here are some tips for other financial advisors who are looking to improve their business operations:
Take inventory of your current processes: The first step to improving your business operations is to take inventory of your current processes. This will help you identify areas where you can improve efficiency.
Set goals for improvement: Once you know where you need to improve, set goals for yourself. This will
help you stay motivated and on track.
Make a plan: Once you have your goals, create a plan for how you will achieve them. This plan should
include specific steps that you need to take.
Get feedback: Once you’ve implemented your plan, get feedback from your clients and employees. This
feedback will help you identify areas where you can continue to improve.
Stevens said his biggest process-related mistake, or pain point, was not allowing the processes they created, enough time to work and not following the process! The operational processes created transparency, fostering trust and confidence in the team.
Steven’s journey is a testament to the fact that by embracing change and adopting new strategies, he can continue to evolve and provide even greater value to clients and his staff. With fostering advisor growth being a core principle at Private Advisor Group, Stevens was kind enough to lead our September Office Talk to share many of his best practices, tips, and real-world examples with his peers. If enhancing your operations and peer learning alongside a connected community are of interest to you, let’s connect.