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Building the Model FA Accelerator for Financial Advisors

08.08.19 | Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA | 0 Scale Model FA Accelerator, Building the Model FA Accelerator for Financial Advisors

Traditional coaching isn’t enough to help financial advisors succeed. Neither is technical training, attending conferences, or reading 3,000-word blog articles from experts. The kind of exponential growth you want requires a special ecosystem.

And to find it, advisors should look towards the Silicon Valley and its well-established (and highly effective) start-up culture.

Consider this. Silicon Valley has a relatively small physical footprint — but it cranks out hundreds of start-ups, which in turn generate millions of dollars in short order. How does it work?

The answer is simple:  Silicon Valley is an accelerator ecosystem.

If you are thinking “I could use some of that in my world!” then you are absolutely right. So far, the financial services industry has offered up advisor coaching as the answer… But there’s a reason why advisors are skeptical. Many self-proclaimed “successful advisor coaches” have not worked as an advisor a day in their lives. Others have inherited a strong practice from their parents. Sure, they may have mastered the art of delivering a dopamine rush on a coaching call… But you can’t expect real-world, in-the-trenches coaching from them.

Having worked closely with nearly 300 advisors in our Brewer Consulting programs, I can report that most real-life advisors don’t reside on a Greek island. They don’t spend their days diving into the ocean from a private yacht. They don’t dial into their practice from the beach between early cocktails and a late nap. They are not coasting off an existing book of business. They’re in the trenches, taking grenades.

And what they need is other advisors who are right there with them.

I could not find the right ready-made solution to this puzzle, so I decided to build one.

It’s called the Model FA Accelerator.

Don’t get too excited — as of today, it doesn’t exist yet. But we are getting really close, and here’s what I’m thinking.

I don’t want to build a pure “traditional advisor coaching” offer, because I believe it’s not enough. What I want is to take a page out of a Silicon Valley playbook — and build an ecosystem where advisors can thrive. A place to combine talent with proven processes and strategies. And yes, it will have elements of coaching and some mentoring, because accountability helps. But at its core, Model FA Accelerator will be about selecting highly driven, smart advisors who are ready to put in the work, execute the plays, and support each other — and arming them with highly effective practice management strategies.

How will the Model FA Accelerator work?

First off, Model FA Accelerator won’t be right for everyone. You must be able to articulate what you want to get out of your advisory business. In other words, you must have a vision and clear goals in order to qualify. Think of it as the applications round for any of the tech accelerators (like the Y Combinator or TechStars). You don’t have to have a picture-perfect product with all the bugs worked out… but you do have to have a vision and a compelling pitch deck.

Once we have selected the first cohort of Model FA advisors, we will plug them into the ecosystem of subject matter experts and enthusiastic colleagues. Our first step together will be to assess your most urgent pain point. We will formulate a strategy, design a step-by-step plan, and set you on a course to execute — all against a backdrop of support and accountability. We can’t help you find your motivation — but we can help you apply it in the right place to create maximum impact.

How do we determine the most urgent pain?

We will use a Model FA practice diagnostic tool. It will be more involved than any article would allow the space for, but you can follow along here for a quick-and-dirty self-diagnostic right now.

Here are the six key areas of the advisory business that we will examine together.

  1. Business Strategy & Mindset
  2. Sales & Marketing
  3. Client Experience
  4. Technology, Workflows & Operations
  5. Human Capital Management 
  6. Advanced Marketing Strategy

What does that mean? Let’s look at them one by one. As you read, ask yourself: on a scale from “I have no idea where to begin” to “I have this fully implemented AND I make time to re-assess it periodically”, where are you right now?

Business Strategy and Mindset

Business strategy deals with the niche you occupy or the ideal client you pursue. It also addresses your pricing model and operational structure. Even before you open for business, you should have those three things well-settled.

Mindset refers to your ability as a businessperson to get through tough times and persevere. Having a detailed plan and possessing that kind of determination is essential for working in the Model FA Accelerator ecosystem.

See also: The Most Important Aspects of Launching an RIA

Sales and Marketing

Financial advising is, first and last, a relational business. You already know that you need to have a process for building trust and relationships with your clients. We can help you make that growth exponential. We can suggest best practices for increasing and compounding trust with prospects, clients, and centers of influence — to advance your practice, and to augment your impact in your community.

See also: Building a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan that Works

Client Experience

Client experience is an essential marker of a successful financial advisory practice. It’s crucial that your service is highly personalized and curated. Otherwise, clients will tend to doubt whether your service is worth the money they are paying you.

See also: Building a Financial Advisor Value Proposition that Someone Will Buy

The Model FA Accelerator will teach you how to streamline all back-end functions, making it easy for your team to know who is doing what. The front-end (i.e. anything that’s client-facing) needs to be very personal and intimate. The idea is to make every interaction with your firm feel like the client’s birthday. And the only way to accomplish that is to automate and standardize the back-end functions — so that you are freed up to spend time with prospects and clients.

Technology, Workflows, and Operations

When your offer is clear, we can wrap technology, workflows, and operations around it. The Model FA Accelerator will teach you how to automate your practice’s functions. We’ll show you how to evaluate and improve your operating procedures, and how to maximize the efficiency of your workflows — with the eye on building a practice that scales and impresses clients as a matter of course.

See also: Financial Advisor Workflows and Technology: Case Studies

Human Capital Management

Staffing is a pain point for many financial advisors — and getting human capital management right is an essential part of growing your business. Should you outsource? Hire additional staff? How do you choose them, train them, motivate them? How do you know when is the right time to fire someone? In the Model FA ecosystem, you can explore who to bring on and when. We will provide job descriptions, pay scales, and all the HR resources you need to keep on the rails.

Advanced Marketing

The last element is advanced marketing. Once a business gets to $50 million or $100 million in assets, you need advanced marketing strategies to really leverage your communication. Social media funnels and videos can help you attract ideal prospects in a way that’s simply not possible one-on-one. The Model FA Accelerator will provide guidance on creating this content and disseminating it, giving you a unique degree of leverage to reach a broader audience.

What comes after the Model FA Accelerator diagnostic?

In one word, work!

 After the diagnostic is complete, and we know where it hurts (that is, which of the six pillars is currently the weakest link in your practice), we will provide you with a custom curriculum. You will then work with subject matter experts to remedy that weak point, improving it until it’s on par with the rest of your practice. Once the first target area is shored up, we run the diagnostic again. What’s the next area we need to work on?

As you can see, the Model FA Accelerator is a continuous process. As your business evolves, you re-evaluate where it hurts. The key is to keep working within the ecosystem, leveraging subject matter experts and the community of high performing colleagues to fix the problems and get to the next level.

That level of results doesn’t happen with traditional advisor coaching alone. The Model FA Accelerator is designed to focus on one problem area at a time, dig deep to make sure it’s fully fixed, and then move on to another area. The goal is to go beyond any of the six pillars, coaching, or mentoring by combining them all in an ecosystem that will support and push you.

Does that sound like something you might want to know more about? Stay tuned for news from Model FA or email me to get on the “first consideration” list for when Model FA Accelerator is launched in a few weeks!

Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA

Patrick Brewer is the Founder of SurePath Wealth, a NextGen ensemble practice with offices across the country. Patrick is also co-founder of Brewer Consulting, a marketing agency for financial advisors, and host of “The Model FA” podcast. Together, the three companies empower advisors to remove financial anxiety from the world by combining human-first investment advice with cutting-edge marketing and practice management strategies. Patrick is a CFA charterholder and a CPA. You can connect with Patrick on Facebook or LinkedIn.