Let’s elevate
practice management in 2020

Rob Richardson

Rob Richardson, CIMA®
Senior Vice President
Practice Management Spokesperson

LOCATION: San Mateo, California, USA
TENURE: 1995

Right now, thousands of athletes around the globe have their sights set on one goal—the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games in Tokyo. Many have dedicated their lives to a sport, hoping it will pay off and they’ll earn a spot to represent their country and compete on the world stage. One of the best aspects of Olympic coverage are the video vignettes featuring the athletes. The stories of the athletes, their families and coaches never cease to amaze, drawing you in to root for your team in a sport you may only watch every four years.

This year, I’m drawing inspiration from those we’ll be cheering for this summer. They remind me that while they’re undoubtedly talented and driven, getting to an elite level requires strong coaches, relentless effort and the conscious choice to show up and do the work. No one coasts into the Olympics. It’s the same in our industry—no advisor gets to the top without consistently putting in the work and seeking out strategies for improvement. I’m personally challenging myself to look at the playbook of a successful advisory practice and unearth fresh insights that help advisors reach for better.

Play to your strengths

The topic that’s always been at the forefront of my mind is elevating the client experience by looking at yourself and your business from the client’s perspective. Why? Because it challenges advisors to be bold, step outside themselves and be humble to hear feedback that may feel uncomfortable. But that discomfort can be the ticket to improvement. You have a choice—get mired in defensiveness or use it as fuel to make changes that draw your clients closer.

We’ve already covered a lot of ground, from zero-second impressions to creating a welcoming office environment, but there is much more to tackle. I’d like to expand the conversations linking the client experience to generating referable business. Referrals will continue to be one of the best sources for new clients and it’s foolish to avoid the conversation rather than find ways for it to feel natural. It’s ok if the “traditional” way of asking (“Who do you know who could use my services?”) doesn’t work for you, let’s change it or find a way that does! Like Ben Franklin said, “when you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

Dig deeper on goals

Another topic that I’ve been investigating is how we talk about goals with clients. “Goals-based investing” is not a new concept but I think there’s a gap in what we think it is versus what it actually is. Are we providing goals-based investing if we identify a client’s long-term goal of “retire comfortably”, but ultimately dedicate much more of the dialogue and questions on establishing a risk tolerance? At future meetings, if we center the conversation on market performance and less on their goal fulfillment—is that considered goals-based investing?

The truth is goals-based investing sounds simple enough, but it can be challenging to implement in a real-world setting. Many people have difficulty setting goals in a way that encourages their success. Anyone who has made a New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight” but found themselves doing the same old, counterproductive behavior within a few weeks, knows this firsthand. Achieving a goal requires much more specificity and effort than most of us think.

This year I’ll be exploring academic theories, psychological research and popular suggestions for setting and achieving goals. I’ll share ideas and tips for practical application in client conversations to help you gain deeper connections with your clients and what truly matters to them. Ultimately, the advisor of the future is one who shifts the dialogue away from performance and measures success against the things that clients are emotionally connected to.

The great thing about this topic is that you’ll be able to apply it to your own business. You’ll not only be skilled at getting clients to clarify, color and expand the picture of their goals—you can do it for yourself. By bringing your process, actions and resources in line with your aspirations, you give yourself more momentum than a few goals jotted down on a whiteboard.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about what I uncover. What are you focused on, thinking about and mulling over this year?

The views expressed in this article are only those of Rob Richardson and are not necessarily the views of Franklin Templeton and should not be considered investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or adopt any investment strategy.

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What Are the Risks?

All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions. Special risks are associated with foreign investing, including currency fluctuations, economic instability and political developments. Investments in emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors, in addition to those associated with these markets’ smaller size and lesser liquidity. Investments in fast-growing industries like the technology sector (which historically has been volatile) could result in increased price fluctuation, especially over the short term, due to the rapid pace of product change and development and changes in government regulation of companies emphasizing scientific or technological advancement or regulatory approval for new drugs and medical instruments.

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The companies and case studies shown herein are used solely for illustrative purposes; any investment may or may not be currently held by any portfolio advised by Franklin Templeton Investments. The opinions are intended solely to provide insight into how securities are analyzed. The information provided is not a recommendation or individual investment advice for any particular security, strategy, or investment product and is not an indication of the trading intent of any Franklin Templeton managed portfolio. This is not a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any industry, security or investment and should not be viewed as an investment recommendation. This is intended to provide insight into the portfolio selection and research process. Factual statements are taken from sources considered reliable, but have not been independently verified for completeness or accuracy. These opinions may not be relied upon as investment advice or as an offer for any particular security. Past performance does not guarantee future results.