Financial advisors have dozens, if not hundreds, of choices when it comes to the firm they choose to partner with to build their practice. This vital choice is often clouded by the perceived similarities of many financial services firms. Perception, however, is not always reality. And the reality is that you simply don’t know what you don’t know.
Not all financial services firms are created equal, and you can usually tell in the first client meeting what sort of advisor you’re dealing with. Keep in mind that most firms market themselves as ‘financial planning’ firms. Yet many of these firms are transactional in the first client meeting despite their marketing.
For instance, some firms will with insurance in the first meeting, and if the prospect isn’t buying, they move on to another prospect. Even if the prospect does ‘buy’, it’s likely that financial organization, cash flow, or investments isn’t in mix (despite marketing their services as financial planning). These advisors are really just acting like ‘insurance advisors.’
Conversely, some firms start with investments in the first meeting, and again, if the prospect isn’t buying, the advisor moves on. These are advisors are really just acting like ‘investment advisors’.
The world needs insurance-only advisors and investment-only advisors, but we think that most clients just want one financial advisor in their life. At Consolidated Planning, we don’t have a pre-mediated notion about what products a prospect will need in a first meeting. We know that products follow planning strategies, and often product recommends won’t happen until meeting three or four. We want to be that one advisor that a prospect is looking for.
Consolidated Planning is a balanced firm that offers a wide variety of products and services including insurance, investment, and planning services. Our ability to work with clients in a variety of ways ensures we are always able to do what makes sense for our clients.
From an advisor’s perspective, Consolidated Planning stands out from other firms thanks to a unique infrastructure of advisor support and a host of talented individuals united for a common purpose. Our humble beginnings go back to 1981 when four advisors developed and shared a philosophy about planning that put the client first, challenged conventional wisdom, and contrasted with the transactional nature of the industry. Today, we have over 100 financial professionals in offices across the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. As we’ve grown, we continue to work with clients through a comprehensive and consultative process.
In this article, we’ll highlight the ways Consolidated Planning is different from other firms so you can make an informed decision about where to build your planning practice.
How Do Financial Planning Firms Train Their Advisors?
Most financial services companies offer a 12-24 month training program to onboard new advisors. Typically, this training program involves weekly meetings with your training class and regular call blocks – dedicated time to make prospecting calls while your manager listens in and critiques your conversations. It’s sink or swim and if you sink, the veteran advisors in your office will do their best to keep any clients you are lucky enough to close.
The first year of an advisor’s career is challenging and intense. Early success is often indicative of long term success so we focus on helping new advisors get their practice off the ground and to a point of viability as quickly as possible.
We created a milestone driven 13 month curriculum designed to build a solid career foundation through compound learning that has a beginning and an end. New advisors are fully immersed in our philosophy and planning process through both classroom training and real world experience. Advisors learn from a diverse group of instructors and mentors while practicing to reinforce skills.
Advisors are not forgotten after they complete our Take Off process. Each advisor also has a unique playbook that they’re following for what they must do year-by-year to find their success. At a minimum, CP has it’s new advisors help at least 125 new clients in their first 5 years.
Advisors at Consolidated Planning have dozens of opportunities to advance their knowledge. Our Marketing Administration & Practice Solutions (MAPS) Team hosts study groups and provides target market training through the Weylman Center. Our CEO leads monthly goal planning sessions. We host firmwide trainings on our financial planning software, the Living Balance Sheet, as well as participating in national events.
Consolidated Planning exists to develop new advisors. Our training is designed with this end in mind. Our goal is for each new advisor to help 125 planning clients over their first five years. By accomplishing this goal, our average new advisors earn over $250,000 in their 5th year with CP.
How Do Financial Planning Firms Help With Client Acquisition?
Success is rarely an accident, yet many firms fail to adequately help their advisors create detailed business and marketing plans. Our Marketing Administrative Practice Solutions (MAPS) Team works one-on-one with our advisors to craft plans to help achieve their individual goals; this is not a one size fits all approach.
At many firms, new advisors are asked to call on friends and family to generate business while experienced advisors hope to make it on referrals. There is nothing inherently wrong with these
approaches, but we prefer to incorporate a method of generating new business that is sustainable and repeatable. As part of this effort we utilize a proprietary, niche marketing system called the Weylman System. Additionally, we provide robust support for our advisor’s digital marketing plans.
This is a tough business- even more so if you try to go it alone. We’ll build a support network around you with the sole goal of your continued success. Your mentor, marketing specialist, and the director of the MAPS team will coordinate with you to develop a plan for your unique goals.
How Will Consolidated Planning Help Me With My Client Planning?
CP’s Advisor Performance Group (APG) is unlike any back office you’ve seen before. Sure, they handle the typical non-client facing business processing functions that most back offices handle but that is where the similarities end. APG steps up to become a part of your team and instantly puts decades of experience and knowledge at your disposal.
With APG, an advisor’s work with clients is fully supported from open to implementation and review. APG assists with data entry and client website set up. Case consultants are available to help with strategy design and narratives to guide implementation. Insurance and investment paperwork are even handled by the new business hub.
APG gives new and experienced advisors more confidence in their work while freeing up more time in their days to spend with clients and prospects. Imagine freeing yourself from the minutia and focusing on the aspects of the business that you love.
What Planning Tools Do Financial Planning Firms Use?
The Living Balance Sheet® is an interactive web-based tool grounded in a unique philosophy that challenges traditional thinking and offers a new approach to financial decision making through organization and balance. Through clear organization and uncommon knowledge, LBS helps our advisors deliver time-tested, protection-first strategies to help guide their clients toward Financial Balance® and optimized cash flow.
Many financial advisors and the tools they use track a client’s assets and liabilities. LBS goes beyond simply examining these traditional balance sheet metrics to include cash flow and protection domains. This difference is vital to our philosophy when working with clients and guides our recommendations.
LBS provides a consolidated and up-to-date picture of a client’s complete financial picture. It’s a simple way to see what they own and what they owe without needing to remember usernames and passwords for multiple websites.
What’s The Culture Like At Consolidated Planning?
We are a firm united by our values and we regularly revisit what it means to be a part of CP. Having the right people is essential to our success. Because of this, we are highly selective in our hiring process. In fact, we only make offers to about 6% of the candidates we source- on par with some Ivy League schools’ acceptance rates. We are this selective because our people and culture are our best attributes.
Since 1981, we have worked to maintain the integrity of our values and to build a firm respected as much for the quality of our character as the quality of our work. We believe that the two are inseparably intertwined. We have the tools and the systems in place to teach our new advisors the ins and outs of running a financial planning practice, but we can’t teach character. Finding the right fit is essential for both our firm and our clients.
We are givers, not takers. We put people before money. We have growth mindsets. We believe in grit before wit. We believe in teamwork. We are a family. We have fun. Our purpose drives our belief.
Is Consolidated Planning The Best Firm For Me?
At the beginning of this article, you may have felt unsure which financial planning firm would make the best partner for you as you grow your practice. You’ve seen that most financial services companies are sink or swim and highly competitive and you wondered if Consolidated Planning was the same.
Throughout this article, we’ve looked behind the curtain to see what life as a financial advisor is really like at Consolidated Planning. You’ve seen how our MAPS team provides support for your client acquisition efforts. You learned how APG and the New Business Hub facilitate your planning and client services to allow you the freedom to spend your time in revenue producing activities. Most importantly, you’ve seen how these advisor resources and our collaborative culture act as rocket fuel to create exponential growth in your practice.
Now the ball is in your court. Reach out to our team to discuss how our robust advisor resources will help launch your career to new levels of success. We’ll give you a custom practice playbook that charts your path to exponential growth.
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