A professional branding and client acquisition expert, sales and marketing speaker Duncan MacPherson has been coaching financial professionals for over 20 years. His company Pareto Systems is at the forefront of improving productivity and practice management in financial advisors. Duncan is an industry author and has written the best-selling books: Breakthrough Business Development – Take Your Business to the Next Level and The Promise of the Future: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Effective Marketing.
SPEAKING.COM: How do you define practice management and how is it often misunderstood?
MACPHERSON: Practice management is confused with marketing, or is limited to strategizing about branding, or just confused with salesmanship.
Practice management is how you build an organized matrix of all your processes – branding, marketing, service activities, core functions – and constantly tune and keep that array efficient and effortless. It is a network of interrelated skills, processes and strategies that build value in a business while making it manageable, scalable and ensuring the owner runs the business – and not the other way around.
SPEAKING.COM: What does skilled practice management entail?
MACPHERSON: It entails and encompasses a lot, but at its heart it is built around implementing repeatable, habitual and clear processes that focus not just on wealth management, but on practice and relationship management as well. Ensuring those processes are communicated clearly to clients is also vital.
SPEAKING.COM: What difference does smart practice management make in a firm?
MACPHERSON: Practice management often separates the salesperson from the professional consultant. Salespeople look for new clients while consultants are found. Consultants have services that are bought, while salespeople have services that are sold; there is a profound distinction here. How you start a relationship and how your processes guide that continued relationship will have a tremendous impact on its full value over its lifetime, especially when it comes to refer-ability.
Solid practice management not only frees time and makes a business scalable, it makes a professional more referable, and clients more likely to act as advocates.
SPEAKING.COM: If most practice management processes and strategies are “common sense” why do many businesses fail to implement them?
MACPHERSON: While they may understand the theory, they are left without a concrete process to implement. They are, in effect, left with a sketched roadmap and no car. Taking practice management from intent to implementation requires giving professionals the necessary framework and resources to adapt and put into place – immediately and reliably – a process that does not require them to re-invent the wheel.
In short, they often fail to implement because the practice-management professionals they deal with do not offer them the concrete resources – scripting, agendas, etc. – they need to implement the “common sense”.
SPEAKING.COM: Why is there often a disconnect between the services a financial advisor is delivering and the clients’ perception of the customer service they’re receiving?
MACPHERSON: It’s due to a lack of clarity and communication, both of which can be combatted by having a clear and understood process.
SPEAKING.COM: How can advisors step outside themselves to get a better idea of the way they are perceived by clients and potential clients?
MACPHERSON: Working with a consultant or coach who can give a fresh, independent view of a practice is vital in many cases. Attending a speaking event or webinar can be a “reset button” as well. It’s a way to get clarity on the issues specific to a given business and begin to build that all-important process playbook. It helps the business owner kick their own tires and get a fresher, clearer sense of the state of the business and the trajectory it’s on.
SPEAKING.COM: What are a few ways to build competitor-proof client relationships?
MACPHERSON: Your Relationship Management Process is the heart of this. It encompasses your overall communications and branding strategy, focused on ensuring that clients and prospective clients understand and appreciate your value. It includes both crafting your messaging and nuts-and-bolts mechanisms like setting up an effective service matrix, consistent communication and data gathering of client information that reinforces the relationship.
Both the way industry is evolving and the speed at which it is being commoditized contain a host of factors that emphasize what you cost rather than what you’re worth. Your ability to articulate your value ensures your clients understand the value you bring to their lives, and that is how you both competitor-proof a client and transform them into a referral-generating advocate.
SPEAKING.COM: How can advisors increase their number of client referrals?
MACPHERSON: By understanding who their ideal clients are and what they want. By understanding the value of process, clarity, communication and advocacy and by implementing that understanding into their business model.
SPEAKING.COM: What is the Total Client Engagement Process?
MACPHERSON: Total Client Engagement is a conceptual approach to identify gaps and address opportunities, overlooked vulnerabilities and unmet needs in your business. The TCE process lets you build the foundations for client-focused relationships that transcend money. It focuses on ensuring the professional is positioned as a client’s personal CFO – as a consultant rather than a salesperson – so you are perceived as a panoramic wealth and risk manager.
SPEAKING.COM: How did you become an advisor to financial advisors?
MACPHERSON: By serendipity. I’d known several elite advisors, and had been involved in helping them – strictly as a friend – in organizing their branding and practice management, and began to hear “you should really think about doing this professionally”. It was an organic evolution that led to a coaching and practice management firm and my role as a professional speaker and author.
To bring marketing speaker Duncan MacPherson to your organization, please contact Michael Frick at: Mike@Speaking.com