Research is central to our work, so I expect a certain amount of give and take with our readers. The exchange typically unfolds like this: We conduct studies with professional advisors, consolidate and analyze the findings, serve the results back to the advisors in a variety of formats, and, almost always, field some inquiries about how the findings apply to an individual practitioner or a particular situation.

We regularly use the results of our best-practices surveys to create conceptual processes and techniques that can be leveraged by bigger, diverse groups of professionals.Less frequently, the research cycle has another iteration-information comes back to us from the advisors who experiment with and adapt the processes to suit their needs. Sometimes, these real-life insights can make tools more useful for other advisors, and recently I was fortunate to have such an interchange.

At the Financial Advisor Symposium in April, I spoke during the opening session about the pivotal role centers-of-influence play in helping advisors reach affluent prospects. I emphasized the upfront effort required to find the "right" fit-one that entails the detailed profiling of potential partners to screen for the desired business goals, operating standards and client base, and evaluate the opportunities for reciprocal value. Then I described a profiling approach developed from our research.

At the reception afterward, I met Harris Kagan of Eagle Strategies Corporation, who shared his variation of the process. Simply put, he
"profiled" himself first. In doing so, he clearly defined his own thoughts on the very topics he would pose in interviews with prospective partners and developed a comparable dossier on himself and his practice. Perhaps more beneficial was the higher efficiency and effectiveness he realized from the exercise; a first-hand user's experience increased his facility with the profiling tool and allowed him to identify his priorities for meetings with candidates.

These kinds of "findings" help us improve and advance our learning dialogue with advisors, a supremely valuable and generous gesture from the professionals who are willing to share. Thanks.