As a financial professional, taking a team approach is a smart move. It’s much better than the alternative of trying to convince your prospects and clients that you're a jack-of-all-trades. It's just not credible or trustworthy. There is strength in numbers as a financial professional, and filling your roster with other skilled players will win more clients.
A Balanced Team
In team sports, each member of the team has strengths and weaknesses. Take baseball for an example. The player at third-base has to be lightning quick, fearless, and have a laser beam of an arm. You want your first baseman to be able to dig wild throws out of the dirt, and stretch just a little bit farther to get the out. Your outfield should be stacked with players who can cover a lot of ground really fast, and have a cannon for an arm. They don't need to be nearly as accurate as your pitcher. On the other hand, you want your pitcher to be able to place the ball within inches of the desired location. And your catcher is the brains of the operation and controls the entire show from behind home plate.
You wouldn't want your pitcher roaming the outfield, or your outfielder pitching. You’d end up with a lot of dropped balls in the outfield, and a lot of beaned batters at the plate. They have slightly different skills, and they have spent years sharpening them. The team works together, and wins championships. As an individual covering nine positions at one time, no one player would ever win a single game. You should be applying this notion to your financial business and implement a balanced team approach.
The Critical Question
"This all sounds great, but what happens to us if something happens to you?" If you haven't been asked this question yet, it's just a matter of time because your clients are wondering. Whether they’ve said it or not, its something they have thought about. They want to know who will guide the execution of the plan that you were helping them craft if you're no longer there to guide them. If you’re a one-person band, this could be a deal breaker. When you are surrounded with a team of supporting cast members, it's much easier to answer that question and instill confidence in your clients.
Legal and Tax Advice
Your clients will probably have questions regarding taxes. Are you properly licensed to provide tax advice? Your clients are going to need assistance with wills, trusts, and all their estate planning documents. Are you properly licensed to provide such legal advice? Some CPAs are financial advisors, and some attorneys are licensed financial professionals. However, many financial professionals are not licensed CPA's or attorneys. Surround yourself with a qualified team you can trust.
Drafting Your Team
I didn't say this would be easy. However, it is simple. If you want to build a team, you need to select the right players, and keep out the wrong players. Like a coach recruiting athletes, you will want to have a sit down interview with each one.
Make a short list of 5 to 10 attorneys, and 5 to 10 CPAs. Either you or your staff should schedule 30 to 60 minute interviews for each one. You know your business better than anyone. You know your philosophy and beliefs about how things should be done better than anyone. You should be looking for somebody to fill the roster on your team who shares similar values and beliefs.
Don't Beg for Referrals
Your interview process should specifically be focused on finding professionals who you can refer your clients to. Not the other way around. CPAs and attorneys get hit up by financial professionals constantly asking for them to refer their clients to the financial professional. They often have no consistent marketing plan in place, and are begging other professionals for business. There couldn't be anything less professional about that.
As you interview each CPA and attorney, make it abundantly clear that you are not asking him or her to refer people to you. Rather, you're here to interview them to see if they're a good fit for your practice and the prospects and clients whom you serve. You are there to learn about their process, the cost of their services, and how your clients and prospects would be billed. Ask why they do what they do as well. What is their motivation for getting up every day in the capacity of a CPA or attorney?
Once your narrow the list down, identify the CPAs and attorneys who you’d like to refer business to, and get their permission to do so. Anyone who you interviewed, but did not select, should receive a thank you letter. It's the professional thing to do.
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