Words to the wise
Accountants and tax professionals who are looking to add financial to their offerings would be wise to start by getting a little advice themselves -- from other advisors.
“Form relationships with other advisors,” recommended Charlene Wehring, founder of Wehring Wealth Management, LLC in Bellville, Texas, who has been offering financial services with HD Vest Investment ServicesSM for 20 years. “This is an invaluable way of gaining the confidence you will need to be successful.”
“Ask for help, and learn from your peers,” echoed Matthew White, the founder of M. White Financial Services in Baytown, Texas, who has been an HD Vest advisor since 2000. “In 17 years, I have never encountered a single advisor who was not willing to help another advisor.”
One of the first pieces of advice they’re likely to give a new advisor is, in effect, to know what they are -- and are not -- doing. “Focus on you being a behavioral coach,” suggested Kurtis Campbell, a partner at Dayton, Ohio-based Brown & Campbell CPAs Inc., which has been offering financial services since 2009 with HD Vest. “Yes, you need to understand the technicalities of the investments, but upgrading your client's portfolio through behavioral advice is a much better career than pretending to have some investment product or selection that will ultimately solve the client's issues -- no such product or investment selection exists. Focus on what you can control, not on what is out of your control.”
Even more to the point was Steven Wilson, founder of Steven L. Wilson & Associates CPAs, in Tulsa, Okla., who has been an advisor with HD Vest since 1994: “Consult with clients about what they care about and solve their problems,” he said. “Do not try to ‘sell’ a product or mutual fund.”
For many advisors, having a broad strategy in place is more important than any individual investment choices. “When I began my [wealth management] practice I wish that I had known the overall importance of having a financial plan,” said Texas’ Wehring. “I have learned that a financial plan is critical to getting the clients invested in making sure that they are able to reach their goals. They must realize that there are consequences to each decision that they make and be flexible enough to make the right decisions.”
PICK YOUR CLIENTS WELL
Given the depth of the relationships experienced advisors develop with their clients, it should be no surprise that they recommend picking those clients very, very carefully.
“Be very proactive and segment your clients accordingly,” said Lisa Pugel, president of D.B. Tax and Financial Services Inc. in South Milwaukee, Wis., and an HD Vest advisor since 1995. “Don't assume a larger client (with respect to assets under management) is an ‘A’ client. Truly analyze and segment to better serve all your clients.”
“I wish that I had had better client vision when I started out,” recalled Brian Stephens, an HD Vest advisor for 21 years at Davis & Associates CPA Firm in Baytown, Texas. “Learning which clients are the right clients for our firm -- also, when making a poor client connection, not ending it fast enough. It is hard to give up a client you worked hard to obtain, but sometimes it is better to let go.”
Texas’ White also suggested being picky: “Don’t take all clients – be selective from the beginning so you don’t find yourself wanting to fire clients.” But he also warned new advisors not to underprice themselves, because the service offering is of “tremendous value” to clients. He also offered a great gauge for approaching client retention: “Be afraid of losing a client because you weren’t proactive, not because you recommended an investment that was not a great performer.”
Picking the right clients will pay off in the long term, but would-be financial planners will need to invest in their business to be able to support them, White added: “Hire experienced team members, send them to training, make them get licensed, equip them with the right tools, empower them to take really good care of your clients.
Perhaps the most important investment to make may be time, according to Oklahoma’s Wilson: “Maintain a strong tax practice and approach your [financial services offering] as a long-term program,” he advised. “It takes time to develop the lasting relationships that will pay off in the long run.”
For more information about HD Vest Financial Services and how they can help you transfer a client’s wealth, visit hdvest.com/join or contact a Business Development Consultant at (800) 742-7950. HD Vest Financial Services® and its affiliates (collectively, “H.D. Vest, Inc.”) do not provide tax or accounting services. You should consult your tax professional regarding the tax implications of any investments. The views and opinions presented in this article are those of the advisors quoted, and not of HD Vest Financial Services® or its subsidiaries. Asset allocation does not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses.
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