The ClientWise Blog

Ray Sclafani

Recent Posts

How the CARES Act Impacts Your Clients’ Taxes

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Apr 20, 2020 5:01:59 PM

 
 
 
 
 
 
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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Business and Operations Management, Crisis

Effective Investment Charts for Communication with Clients

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Apr 10, 2020 10:20:09 AM

 
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
Winston Churchill
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Leadership, Crisis

Adversity Gives Rise to Great Leaders

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Apr 9, 2020 2:19:19 PM

Sometimes it’s at the turbulent center of a monumental crisis where true leaders discover their inner strength. Individuals who despite incredible fear and uncertainty found the inner strength to persevere through all the tumult. History is littered with examples; perhaps none so rooted in the American psyche than Abraham Lincoln – a very soft-spoken man from humble origins who somehow managed to hold this country together despite the profound loss of life all around him.

In normal times, an introduction like that would qualify as hyperbole. But as we’re all aware by now, the situation we presently find ourselves in is anything but normal!

As much as your clients want to know that their plan and their portfolio are okay, they also want to know that you and your team are okay. You need to reach out and reassure them that you’re both physically and mentally healthy and fully engaged.

Be self-aware and adaptive

There are seven skills of emotional intelligence – first among those is self-awareness. Take time to ask yourself are you okay and to think about what you’re doing to take care of yourself. Anytime there’s a significant disruption in our day-to-day routines, there’s a tremendous amount of energy required in order to maintain focus, stay organized and remain confident.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Leadership, Adversity, Crisis

A Guide to Working From Home

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Apr 4, 2020 11:39:11 AM

Controlling What You Can, Learning From What You Can’t

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Giving Thanks

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Nov 26, 2019 3:04:25 PM

At this reflective time of year, I remind myself that while gratitude is important, it’s in the giving (of our time, talent and treasure) that we best demonstrate our true thankfulness. The poignant and moving words of JFK always come to mind: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Holiday

New Success in Succession™ Program Addresses Glaring Gap

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Nov 19, 2019 10:00:00 AM

We’ve all seen the sobering statistics. The average age of financial advisors in 2019 is about 55, with roughly one in five age 65 or older. And yet:

  • Nearly three quarters (73%) have no clear written succession plan;
  • Even those within five years of retiring, more than half (60%) don’t have a plan; and
  • Far too many (47%) next generation advisors don’t know if or how they fit into the future firm.

Keep in mind that these are self-reported percentages, so the reality of the situation may be far worse. The lack of a clear path to transition remains perhaps the largest potential breach of fiduciary duty in our industry today – with the continuity of care and financial well-being of countless clients hanging in the balance. For most advisors (both firm

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Business and Operations Management, Succession Planning

Polonius Never Tried to Grow a Practice

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Oct 1, 2019 10:27:47 AM

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be: For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

Hamlet; Act 1, Scene 3

It’s one of the most recognizable and oft quoted lines in all of Shakespeare’s works, nestled right between two other pieces of sage advice that Polonius imparts to his son Laertes: “give every man thy ear, but few thy voice” and “this above all; to thine own self be true.” But while there’s a certain universal wisdom to those other two tenets, if you’re an advisor who’s seeking to rapidly and measurably grow your business, you’ll be well served to embrace rather than avoid the capital of others.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: enterprise value

Capacity and Productivity - The keys to unlocking future growth

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Sep 19, 2019 2:36:00 PM

For any enterprise that’s serious about meaningful and sustainable growth, getting a grasp on how to better control these two critical financial metrics is essential. As you grow, you’re facing a cascade of important decisions:

  • Should I add staff and when?
  • Do I need to start thinking about more office space?
  • When is it advisable to merge or acquire someone in another location?

While profitability can certainly be a useful financial metric, it’s your business’ capacity and productivity which are the two inextricably linked measurement tools that will give you the clearest insight into making those types of mission critical decisions.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: enterprise value

Rainmaking Matters

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jul 17, 2019 10:22:47 AM

One storm is no longer enough...

When it comes to fueling meaningful growth in your enterprise, the days of succeeding by doing one thing very well are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If you’re a rainmaker who has focused on a particular tried and true practice – whether sourcing leads from existing clients, cultivating a network of professional advocates, steadily increasing your share of wallet from existing clients, or recruiting/acquiring other advisor teams – now’s the time to start expanding your horizons by seeking out new additional sources of growth.

The most recent PriceMetrix/McKinsey State of Retail Wealth Management study found that advisors in the top quartile for growth increased annual revenues by 37% (compared to an 8% decline in growth for the bottom quartile). What differentiates the top performers? Not surprisingly, these firms generate most or all their revenue from fees, and function as interdependent teams rather than sole practitioners. What stands out, however, is the realization that only a small percentage of these leading advisors are actively engaged in acquisitive growth. It begs the question…why?

Beware the fast-track

We hear so much about the aging advisor demographic, and we read profiles in the trade press about advisors who seemingly overnight turn a $100MM practice into a $2+ billion enterprise through a series of aggressive acquisitions. It seems like the perfect quick road to rapid growth. What we don’t hear a lot of talk about, however, is the often grossly

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Client Acquisition

Who’s your Practice Management Champion™?

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jul 8, 2019 9:13:59 AM

Every enterprise needs one; here’s why

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Celebrating Independence

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jul 3, 2019 6:59:02 PM

If there’s one holiday that should especially resonate with financial advisors, it’s the 4th of July – a celebration of our nation’s unyielding and relentless desire for self-determination. After all, it was that same fundamental yearning for independence that propelled most of us to take a step into the unknown and launch our own firms.

The allure of independence is extremely compelling – calling all the shots, no more limited payouts, long-term equity ownership and an ability to align the business with your core values and beliefs. But perhaps there’s no stronger case to be made for blazing your own path than the opportunity it affords you to act in an unencumbered fiduciary capacity for your clients.

There’s one particular sentence in the Declaration of Independence which reads:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

It’s a sentiment (albeit a strongly worded one) that could serve as a “bill of rights” for each and every client who entrusts you with his or her financial future. While your name may not be Hancock, Jefferson, Adams or Franklin, you nevertheless follow in their footsteps by passionately advocating for and acting in the best interest of those whom you serve. This is a truly noble profession – one that directly impacts the lives of the individuals we work with, future generations of their family, and the philanthropic causes they support.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Holiday

Motivation Beyond Money

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jun 21, 2019 10:13:10 AM

Finding Your Personal Satisfaction Drivers

In our work over the years with hundreds of advisory teams, nearly every phenomenally successful team leader has shared ONE common attribute – a clearly defined objective as to what he or she wants from their career beyond mere monetary rewards.

Don’t get me wrong; we all want to be well compensated for our entrepreneurism, our labor and our diligent advocacy on behalf of our clients. But there must be a sense of some larger purpose in order to continually push us to go a little bit above and beyond.

"Sustainable growth and success are far more likely when what you seek to achieve is clear, important and personal to you as a human being."

Building an enterprise based on something larger than just profit will dramatically color the approach you take to building your team, the way in which you interact with clients, the strategy and tactics you employ to grow the business, and ultimately, the personal satisfaction you derive from your work.

Define your satisfaction drivers

Carve out some time where there are no distractions, and thoughtfully answer the following questions. Once you’re done, set them aside for a week and then revisit your answers to ensure they truly reflect who you are as a person.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Business and Operations Management

Empty Chairs - The looming NextGen advisor crisis

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Jun 3, 2019 4:38:13 PM

The statistics paint a pretty bleak picture. The average financial advisor today is age 51, with nearly half (43%) over the age of 55 and therefore inside of a decade from retirement age. Conversely, the number of new junior advisors entering the workforce isn’t even close to keeping pace with the number of senior advisors exiting. According to Ernst & Young’s recently released The Next Generation of Financial Advisors report, each year there are two financial advisors qualifying for Social Security benefits for every new advisor entering the market.

Advisory firms have become incredibly top-heavy organizations. According to Michael Kitces, three out of every four U.S. practices currently have more lead advisors and partners than support and service advisors to work with them.

Sustainability impact

Exactly what does this mean for the long-term sustainability of your enterprise? Without a talented team of young advisors to eventually take over the reins, not only are you risking your firm’s future, you’re seriously jeopardizing your ability to monetize your life’s work. More importantly, you’re neglecting your fiduciary duty to your current clients.

With each client you’ve onboarded, you promised them (either explicitly or implicitly) that you’ll be there through all of their life’s transitions – helping to put their kids through college, preparing them for retirement and dealing with crises like illnesses or the death of a spouse/parent whenever they arise. However, if you don’t have a plan to ensure continuity of client care beyond your working life, that promise is rather meaningless.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Business and Operations Management

Proclamation on Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2019

Posted by Ray Sclafani on May 25, 2019 5:35:55 PM

Regardless of political persuasion, whether red state or blue, there are some messages that transcend politics and provide a rare opportunity to begin salving wounds and healing divisions. At ClientWise, we head into this Memorial Day weekend with the deepest appreciation for those who gave their lives for our country, and a renewed resolve to help reignite the principles of honor and integrity by which these brave men and women lived their lives. I hope we can all come together in support of the following White House Proclamation on Prayer for Peace. 

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Holiday

Engaging the NextGen client

Posted by Ray Sclafani on May 20, 2019 4:07:04 PM

The clock is ticking

We’ve all seen the statistics. The probability that your firm will be able to retain your current clients’ assets once they transfer to the next generation are slim – by most accounts, the percentage of those assets that will remain with your firm post-intergenerational transfer is in the teens. It’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

Think about that for a minute. If you’re currently running an enterprise with $500MM in AUM and an average client who’s aged somewhere near 60-65, choosing to do nothing but whistle past the graveyard means there’s a very good chance that close to $425MM of your current AUM will at some point walk out the door over the next 20 years! And if you’re average client is age 70+, you’re looking at the exact same outcome just over a more compressed timetable.

All the time, effort and energy you’ve devoted to acquiring and caring for your clients; gone for no other reason than failing to effectively engage with the next generation before they become inheritors of wealth.

5 ways to build better connections

While they may be inclined to make a clean break and forge their own path with their own people, there are steps you can take to build stronger relationships with the next generation.

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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Client Acquisition, Client Engagement