The role of the advisor has long been a solitary one, driven by the traditional notion of single ownership of the client relationship. But evolution is required for survival, especially in our business.

Today, financial advisors are facing financial markets and investment products that have become more complex, and the needs and expectations of investors have grown equally intricate. These needs extend across various concerns and life stages. So how is a single investment advisor expected to be trusted as a jack-of-all-trades, while avoiding the “master of none” perception at the same time? Enter the team concept. 

When dealing with clients, perception is reality -- even if financial service advisors see things from a more experienced and objective perspective. In addition to exploring personalized situations and needs, the way you respond to clients separates a good advisor from a great one. Currently, it is more accepted to have a bench of players on the investment team that understand the nuances of particular investment strategies and products. If you don’t already have a structured team, you may want to consider the benefits of building one.

Done right, a team with balanced strengths, assigned roles, agreed goals and solid organizational structure can easily produce a triple payoff -- good for your client, good for your firm, and good for you!

Client Facing
Clients today face a variety of issues that many individuals never factored into their planning five or ten years ago. Many of these issues are as complex as they are inter-related within a client’s full financial picture. Outside of a few standard products including life insurance, 529s, and IRAs, you rarely have a client enter the office clear on what ‘products’ they need – rather, they present their situation and look to you for a recommendation of options.  When their needs extend beyond your area of expertise, you risk falling short of expectations, potentially providing the wrong advice, or worse yet, walking away from the sale.

Therefore, advisors need to come up with creative solutions both that fit their clients’ current lifestyles while taking into consideration their aspirations for (or potential changes in) the future. Typically, this means tapping the expertise of other specialists and pulling together a plan that covers all the bases. Not only is it better for the client, but it also keeps you from leaving money on the table.

This is an ever-changing business that is unpredictable and constantly evolving. Advisors need to be versatile and adaptable in order to match it.

The Team Approach
Clients may not ask for it by name, but they are seeking a holistic approach to address their needs. Practically speaking, they often prefer a one-stop shop so they can get all of their financial products and services in one place, led and managed by a trusted advisor, with the assurance that everything is working in alignment with their overall strategy and plan. This is easier said than done – but that is irrelevant to the client. They are more concerned with gaining peace of mind over the various pieces that need to come together to achieve it. 

When advisors cannot provide a range of expertise, they need to bring in team members or specialists. The team approach can be thought of in terms of a basketball team -- each player has a skill set and role, but they have to work together in order to win the game. In order for these teams to be successful, they must have strong leadership, know what is expected of them individually, and execute on the overall game plan.

To begin, there must be a strong captain – a central figure who holds the team together, leads, motivates, and provides a strong foundation of existing clients.  Without this leadership, it will be harder for all players to maintain the same direction and experience cohesiveness. It is also recommended to have a second in command that can help manage the day-to-day activities of the team (identifying opportunities within team, case management, etc.) as well as some administrative activities (reporting, scheduling, coordinating meetings, etc.). These two leaders provide structure and direction for all team members to be held accountable and to succeed.

Next, advisors need to collaborate with other professionals in the financial management cycle, such as accountants and attorneys, to be sure all concerns are met. The financial advisor can influence the direction in which the client goes by connecting the person with an expert they trust – one who shares the same approach and vision for holistic planning. In some cases, formal partnerships are made, but other times strategic alliances are formed. 

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