Stacy Francis’s financial firm is growing by $5 million a month, and she is doing it by offering her services for free.
Francis, president and CEO of Francis Financial in New York City, with $160 million in AUM, has an aggressive “second opinion” process in which she does an intensive 20-hour review of a prospective client’s finances and charges the person nothing.
The upshot is that most of the people who go through this process become clients, but even if they do not, they are likely to refer her firm to family and friends, Francis says. Since starting the process less than a year ago, the firm has tripled its referrals, she says.
“The amount of time the second opinion program takes is the best investment we have ever made,” she says.
Francis adopted the policy after going through a year-long coaching program with CEG Worldwide, headed by John T. Bowen Jr., CEO of CEG Worldwide, a consulting and coaching firm for the financial industry based in San Martin, Calif. CEG Worldwide takes good advisors and turns them into elite advisors, says Bowen.
The program accepts only advisors who are already making $200,000 in annual income and who want to make a bigger difference in their clients’ lives, he says.
“These advisors are good, but they are frustrated because they know they are not realizing their full potential,” says Bowen. “They want to serve their clients exceptionally well and have a great quality of life for their clients and for themselves.”
Francis Financial takes people who have a financial advisor but who want a second opinion about their wealth management or people who do not have an advisor. They go through a process that takes about 20 hours, starting with a series of meetings that takes about five hours for an assessment of their finances.
Then they do a “mind mapping” evaluation that tells them where they are financially, where they want to go with their goals and the steps necessary to get there, including a detailed portfolio review. It includes an analysis of their values, their attitudes towards money, the relationships that are important to them and what they like to do with their time.
“There are three possible outcomes from this. They can decide they are fine where they are. They can decide they need to make changes, but we are not the right fit for them and we will recommend another firm. Or we can start working together,” Francis says.