Discussing best practices for advisers, Mark Tibergien, a principal with Moss Adams, told the audience at the NRP conference in California last week that there are two types of advisers: those that live in the past and complain about the present and those that use the present as a catalyst for the future. The best advisers are the second type, he said.
According to Tibergien, the best adviser practices do five things well. They:
Have clear positioning. They know what the fulfillment of their brand is, he said, not just in marketing, but in what the definition of success is for the adviser and the firm. Further, the best practices understand who the optimal client for their practice is. It is not about getting more clients, but about finding the right clients and delivering them the best service you can, he said. In developing a description of your optimal client, you should take into account your core capabilities, your market, and your personal definition of success, Tibergien commented. To be successful, you should know not only who your optimal client is, but who is your competitor for that client, he said.
Manage to profitability. Profitability is not a consequence of selling, Tibergien explained. Instead, it is a matter of managing the business in such a way that you receive a fair reward for your labor and risk (See Advisers Need to Better Manage Practice Revenues).
Gather systematic client feedback. It is important for advisers to ensure they provide a consistent client experience so that their clients can be confident that if they refer the adviser, that person will receive the same experience that the client did, Tibergien told the audience. The challenge for the adviser, he said, is building a foundation of loyalty.
Align structure with strategy. There are great opportunities in the marketplace, Tibergien said. However, the question for each adviser is whether his practice is organized in such a way that he can take advantage of those opportunities. “What got you here will not get you there,” he commented.
Hire the right people. Strategy defines staffing, according to Tibergien. Does your current structure support future growth, he asked. “People say most people are terminated for poor performance,” he said, “but I think it is probably because they weren’t right for the job to begin with.”