On the Right Track

The secret to tripling your AUM in a decade is putting in the hours — and fol­low­ing the re­sults, Glenn G. Kautt says.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By Glenn G. Kautt

The secret to tripling your AUM in a decade is putting in the hours — and fol­low­ing the re­sults.

SOME AD­VI­SORS TELL ME THEY HAVE a dif­fi­cult time talk­ing to prospects. These ad­vi­sors say they are frus­trated be­cause their mar­ket­ing and sales tech­niques just aren’t work­ing.

So, what does work?

PERFECT YOUR PRAC­TICE

For one, it takes time.

Top per­form­ers in fields such as medicine, ath­let­ics and sci­ence put 10,000 to 15,000 hours into per­fect­ing their skills, author Ge­off Colvin showed in his bestselling book “Tal­ent is Over­rated.” And even af­ter reach­ing the top rung of achieve­ment, these su­per­stars re­mained im­mersed in their work, day in and day out.

Chuck Yea­ger, the first pi­lot to break the sound bar­rier, in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy at­trib­uted his skills to years and years of prac­tice. As a test pi­lot, he flew un­proven and of­ten very dan­ger­ous ex­per­i­men­tal air­craft. He en­gaged in air com­bat. He chose duty sta­tions re­quir­ing daily flights. All that added up to more than 20,000 very dif­fi­cult hours of fly­ing over al­most 30 years.

Stop and ask your­self how many hours of for­mal train­ing you’ve re­ceived on prospect­ing and con­vers­ing with po­ten­tial clients. Is it more than 2,000 hours?

In the past 10 years, how much time have you spent ac­tu­ally talk­ing with clients and prospects, ei­ther on the phone or face-to­face? Is it more than 10,000 hours?

When you rig­or­ously track your hours and ap­point­ments, you’ll see how much work you’ve done per­fect­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions with oth­ers. More im­por­tantly, you’ll know the re­sults of those ef­forts. If you don’t have ex­plicit records, you prob­a­bly aren’t happy with the re­sults. Worse yet, you don’t know why things are not work­ing.

I re­cently re­viewed my cal­en­dar to see how many client or prospect meet­ings I’d had in the first four months of the year. Here’s what I found:

COUNT THE HOURS

Sur­prise! The cal­en­dar I was re­view­ing was from 1998. At that point, I’d been an ad­vi­sor for 15 years and a CFP for 11 years. I also owned my own firm, which had $170 mil­lion in AUM.

As­sum­ing those meet­ings av­er­aged two hours each, I cal­cu­late that I spent about 1,500 hours meet­ing with prospects and clients that year. In other words, about 50% of my work time was de­voted to client re­la­tions and re­la­tion­ship build­ing.

Track­ing has served me well in my pro­fes­sional life. My busi­ness nearly tripled in size over the next decade, reach­ing $500 in AUM by 2008. I con­tinue to rely on this anal­y­sis: At my firm to­day, ev­ery ad­vi­sor has his or her goals re­viewed reg­u­larly by a su­per­vi­sor. Monthly per­for­mance num­bers are pub­lished for ev­ery staffer to see.

I be­gan this prac­tice of track­ing client

If you don’t have ex­plicit records, you prob­a­bly aren’t happy with the re­sults. Worse yet, you don’t know why things are not work­ing.

ac­tiv­ity and rev­enue gen­er­a­tion in 1985, shortly af­ter I started in the fi­nan­cial plan­ning busi­ness. In three short years, I had a sig­nif­i­cant amount of data, and I could see the busi­ness gen­er­ated by my reg­u­lar train­ing and my meet­ings with prospects.

Ad­di­tion­ally, I could see when my ac­tiv­ity was go­ing to pay off — that is, how long it would take to get me from the first meet­ing to cash flow, and what each meet­ing’s prob­a­bil­ity of suc­cess would be. Ini­tially, I found, it took eight to 12 weeks to start mak­ing money be­cause I was mostly sell­ing com­mis­sioned prod­ucts. (This was the ’80s, be­fore the feeonly busi­ness re­ally took hold).

As my rev­enue in­creased, I saw I needed sup­port. By 1989, I was a boss with ac­count­abil­ity to other peo­ple in the firm, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ees who ex­pected a steady flow of rev­enue and work. Shar­ing with the staff how I tracked my hours and my suc­cess in win­ning new busi­ness be­came a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of my self-ac­count­ing.

I wasn’t ask­ing staffers to hold me ac­count­able. Rather, I wanted them to know I was ac­count­ing for my ac­tions. I also wanted them to know that what­ever they could do to move prospects to clients, and then serve their needs ef­fec­tively, was im­por­tant be­cause I paid at­ten­tion to those num­bers. They did, too. Those num­bers be­came a pow­er­ful mo­ti­va­tor.

COM­MIT TO CONTINUITY

I rec­om­mend you start track­ing your client/ prospect-fac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, along with your train­ing in that area. Keep very de­tailed records. If you’re al­ready col­lect­ing this in­for­ma­tion, ex­pand your data set and fig­ure out pre­cisely what your ac­tiv­i­ties are do­ing for you. If you can’t, get help from a coach or ex­pe­ri­enced ad­vi­sor who knows how to keep score. Then share your ac­tiv­ity with ev­ery­one who can help you move your busi­ness for­ward.

Many years ago, a 31-year-old self-made mil­lion­aire told me, “The com­mit­ment to continuity builds emo­tional sta­bil­ity.” Put an­other way, be­ing held ac­count­able for your work is the cor­ner­stone to a pro­duc­tive and emo­tion­ally sta­ble life.

Napoleon Hill, in his book “Keys to Suc­cess: The 17 Prin­ci­ples of Per­sonal Achieve­ment,” stated one of these keys was to em­ploy self-dis­ci­pline. “Self-dis­ci­pline is the process that ties all ef­forts to­gether for you,” he wrote. “The power of the will trained by self-dis­ci­pline is an ir­re­sistible force.”

BUILD YOUR SKILLS

All of this is well and good, but how do you know you’re do­ing enough of the right things? Think of your ca­reer as like tak­ing a long-dis­tance road trip. One tank of gas won’t be enough to get you to your des­ti­na­tion. You must stop, re­fill your tank and make sure you’re on the right road.

In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, for the suc­cess of your decades-long pro­fes­sional ca­reer, you must get re­peated train­ing in both busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and the tech­ni­cal skills nec­es­sary to serve clients. That’s re­fill­ing the tank. You also must reg­u­larly re­view your work ef­forts and re­sult­ing out­comes to make sure you’re hit­ting your goals. That’s mak­ing sure you’re on the right road.

Sim­ply re­view­ing your num­bers and do­ing noth­ing about them isn’t hold­ing your­self ac­count­able. Imag­ine you’re in your car: That would be like know­ing you’ve made a wrong turn but do­ing noth­ing about it. That wouldn’t make sense, would it?

Per­sis­tent and con­sis­tent ac­count­abil­ity is a fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment for suc­cess at ev­ery level of your ca­reer and your life. You ask for it from your clients ev­ery day. It’s time you de­mand it from your­self. You’ll be amazed at the re­sults.

Sim­ply re­view­ing your num­bers and do­ing noth­ing about them isn’t hold­ing your­self ac­count­able.

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