Last month, Great Valley Advisor Group held the Valley Advisor Summit (VAST) in Austin, Texas, for our network of advisors to connect and explore innovative ways to better their businesses. VAST was designed to support advisors by providing seminars and roundtable discussions, each focused on educating attendees about trends in the industry and how to improve their operations.
Staged at Hotel ZaZa in the heart of downtown, VAST also included a brewery tour so attendees could enjoy some great local beers while networking. Though the tour earned high marks, many advisors noted the education provided at the conference was their favorite part of VAST. In fact, advisors were so engaged during the presentations that many felt hesitant to leave the room because they didn’t want to miss anything important.
“An amazing job — the conference was not just fun, but incredibly useful,” said attendee Ann Alsina, CFP, CPWA, from CovingtonAlsina in Annapolis, Maryland.
“It was a wonderful and valuable time,” added attendee Robert Schmauk of Doylestown Wealth Management in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The educational component of VAST included four presentations, detailed below:
The EOS Model
Presenter Brian White, a certified EOS implementer, noted that advisors are often so involved in their business, it’s hard for them to look objectively at what’s working. An efficient, strong business requires a clearly defined vision. When an attendee asked White about the difference between a “business message” and core value, he answered that a business message is for marketing materials, but core values are what define your internal culture.
Passion and vision alone aren’t enough to make a good business, White added. A functional and aligned team is also necessary. To optimize your business, you should ask yourself pertinent questions such as: 1) “What is the thing your business does better every time it’s done?” 2) “What recharges you emotionally?” 3) “What recharges your piggy bank?” and 4) “Why does your business exist?”
The After-Tax Advisor and Working With the Wealthy
Sponsored by Eaton Vance and presented by Dave Gordon, CFA, CPWA, from the Eaton Vance Advisor Institute, this session outlined six stressors for the wealthy that advisors should keep in mind when building their financial plan:
- Affluent clients need their risk and return expectations to at least be met, if not exceeded.
- Leveraging and optimizing tax relief is another important consideration. Taxes can be the easiest “fee” to reduce. Questions that might be helpful conversation starters with clients include: “What do you think detracts more from investment performance: fees or taxes?” and “If you received a large tax refund, would you be more likely to spend it or invest it?”
- Concentrated exposure is also a risk for the wealthy, especially when clients feel overconfident about their ability to pick stocks. Advisors need to handle these conversations carefully, keeping aware of the emotional aspect involved.
- Another emotionally charged stressor for many affluent clients is their legacy and what will happen to their wealth after they’re gone.
- Retirement income represents an additional concern. Determining how to replace W-2 income, especially given the lower-than-inflation yield of the 10-year bond, is a challenge advisors need to address.
- Finally, many wealthy clients have non-qualified stock options through their companies, and may have questions about when would be best to exercise them.
The Predictive Index
This interactive session led by Steve Hopkins, VP of client development at FS Investments, taught advisors more about their leadership style, self-perception, strengths and weaknesses. The predictive index (PI) is a five-minute assessment taken by advisors that assigns them one of 17 different profiles, which are split into four categories: analytical, social, stabilizing and persistent.
The PI is meant to objectively identify your core operating style. Having this knowledge helps advisors reach the next level in running their business by improving aspects such as hiring, onboarding, speed of success, self-awareness, employee development and team performance. There are four traits that factor into workplace behavior: dominance, extraversion, patience and formality. When advisors understand their unique mix of these traits and the impact of them on other people, they’re better equipped to lead their businesses.
Overall, VAST was a resounding success, proving larger events are not always better, and that a smaller setting packed with good information and good people can be much more impactful. GVA is thankful we were able to gather with some of our top-notch advisors to learn, connect and grow together as a team, and we look forward to even greater success in 2022 and beyond.
**Brian White, Eaton Vance, & FS investments are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
Technology continues to dominate the conversation around advisor growth strategies, and the ability to leverage it as a growth tool remains an important focus for the future. Technology is my passion, and I have always been keenly focused on its role in helping businesses grow and adapt, as well as its ability to revolutionize how we approach our daily lives.
This has become even more apparent within the last year, as more advisors shifted to remote work and more firms were forced to invest in tech to keep business activities consistent. In fact, the TD Ameritrade RIA Sentiment Survey found that RIAs were investing more in technology than planned because of the pandemic, with 33% of firms upgrading tech capabilities because of the shifting workplace needs.
The last year has opened advisors’ eyes to the role technology plays in their practice and its ability to amplify impact or harness growth. Here at GVA, we have always placed a high priority on technology, leveraging it to improve how we work as a team and with the advisors aligned with us. This focus has been instrumental in our growth and ability to partner with advisors from across the country.
Technology is non-negotiable for sustained growth
While advisors know they must embrace technology in today’s world, it can be difficult to know where to start. I recommend assessing your current tech stack and examining what is working, what is being actively utilized by the team and how your practice is benefiting.
Once you have an idea of your baseline, you can begin shopping for other technology assets. There are two silos of technology: 1) tech you need and 2) tech that can help grow your business. The first category includes the basics, like your custodial platform, CRM system and other specific tools — the technology that helps you run your business efficiently. The second category involves the technology you need to grow and that empowers you to focus on specialties — the tech that gives you the “disruption factor” that will create real change.
Technology should allow you to streamline tasks, establish workflows and work smarter. When used correctly, technology can propel your practice to new heights. If your current technology package is not meeting these goals, it may be time to reevaluate how you are implementing tech into your work.
Leveraging technology for our advisors via open architecture
GVA is 100% technology-driven. We have put a very robust technology structure in place with elements that support growth. We have partnered with Align Cybersecurity to design cybersecurity policies and procedures. We offer Valor Asset Management, a comprehensive and technology-supported asset management platform; as well as AdvisorBOB, our dynamic advisor compensation software. We have worked to customize Salesforce for our team’s benefit, with specialized workflows, processes, automation and more to streamline activities and allow more time for business-building efforts. We are currently building our GVA Gateway, which will function as an intranet for our advisors to connect, share ideas and collaborate, as well as a centralized portal with the resources and tools they need to succeed.
We feel confident that we have the right tools and resources in place, and we have designed an open-architecture structure with our technology, allowing firms who align with us to opt to continue using their preferred technology platforms after joining us. They will gain access to our suite of solutions but it is up to them whether or not they use it. We view this is an excellent opportunity for our advisors to leverage what we have built to whatever extent they desire.
How technology has revolutionized GVA’s approach
Our focus on technology has been intentional and supports our larger approach to working with advisors. Our goal is to help advisors up-level their practices, as well as provide them with the tools and resources they need to grow their firms and meet their long-term objectives.
The technology we have in place is attractive to our advisor partners, but also allows us to collaborate with them in a better and more meaningful way, effectively elevating the conversation from surface-level to an in-depth and actionable discussion. We can quickly view and publish reports and benchmarks against similar advisors, and we have more visibility into our partners’ businesses so we can understand their challenges and trends. This allows us to explore challenges and create solutions in real time, connect them with other advisors who have faced similar challenges and collaborate in a way that makes everyone better. My colleagues and I can give real advice, outlining specific tools that will work for you and more. We are solely focused on helping you grow your business.
As technology becomes more central to our lives, it’s impossible to ignore the implications it can have on your practice. Technology is nothing if you don’t have anyone using it — and doing so to its full potential. We view it as one of the best tools available to meeting your short- and long-term goals and facilitating meaningful connections. For more insight on the technology we employ to improve workflows and empower advisor growth, and how we can help you leverage technology to grow your practice, schedule a call with us. Connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook for our latest insights and team updates.