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This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…
Matthew Jarvis: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I am your co-founder but solo host today, Matthew Jarvis. Micah is out at hunting camp for the next couple of weeks, so I get to do a couple of these episodes all by myself. Hopefully you enjoy them solo. I prefer them with Micah, but here we go.
As you heard in the intro quote, advisors often come up to me, they come up to Micah as well, but we’re talking about me today. They often come up to me and they say, “Matthew, I want to have a practice just like yours.” Now I’m always flattered by this, because in my heart of hearts, I still imagine myself as that advisor 10 years ago, 15 years ago, who was struggling just to pay my overdue credit cards. So I’m always flattered by them. But as I’ve had that question or that statement made to me more and more times, I now turn it back to the person making the statement, back to the advisor making the statement, and say, “Perfect. I really appreciate that compliment, but how are you defining my success? How are you defining the success that you want to match or hopefully exceed? And what is your plan to get to that level of success?”
See, we often have this dream of success. It’s kind of this nebulous thing. We just know it’s better than where we are. Some higher level of success that we want that we don’t currently have. And the problem with that is a couple of things. One, if it’s not defined, we’ll never actually get there. And when it’s just a dream, when it’s just a someday, when it’s just a where I want to be someday, what happens is in our day-to-day operations, we don’t actually take the steps to implement this. To use a mountain climbing analogy or comparison, which I know is overused, but bear with me, if I want to get to the summit of Mount Rainier and I don’t actually start walking towards Mount Rainier, if I just start walking around in circles, I will never get to the summit.
Most advisors will never get to the summit of a very successful practice because they don’t have a clear plan and they don’t have a clear definition of where they want to go. Now, great news. You, by listening to this podcast, by doing self-improvement, you are not an average advisor, and I am convinced that with the right direction, with the right tools, you will be able to reach whatever level of success it is that you want. How can I claim that? Because I have done it myself, Micah has done it himself many times over, and we’ve been able to work with dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands of advisors now that we’ve been able to give just a little bit of direction to, or in some cases, a lot of direction, and it gets them headed in the right path. And they come back months, years later and say, my goodness, you won’t believe where I am.
Of course, we had Benjamin Brandt on the podcast and he talked about how implementing surge meetings and dozens of other things, and a lot of hard work, 4x-ed his personal income, and cut in by a fourth or three-fourths, I suppose, the time that he works in the office. So today I want to get a little more granular.
Today I want to focus on doubling your success in the four areas of practice success. Now, AUM is not one of the areas of practice success for me, because most people lie about that number. There’s a lot of things lost in that. It’s really just sort of a beauty number and it doesn’t mean a lot. What I wanted to find are the four areas of success.
And I want to give you three action items in each of these four areas that can help you double your success. Now, Micah and I, next week, October 13th, which is a Wednesday, we are going to go deep into this in a webinar that’s open to the entire TPR nation. You can go to theperfectria.com and register for that. In fact, if you get registered by this Thursday, which will be October 7th, we will physically mail you a mountain map so that you can follow along in our webinar and you can outline your practice’s path to doubling your success.
There are four areas where a practice should measure success, which can all be dealt with. The first is effectiveness. So this is the first area of practice success, which is effectively, what kind of results can you produce in a given amount of time? More specifically, we take your gross income and we divide it by the days or hours, depending on how you count, that you work. That gives us your effectiveness number. Now we could argue that number. I don’t want to argue it today, I’ll argue with you another day. Take your gross income for last year, divide it by the number of days that you worked, that gives us our effectiveness number. That number can be doubled in every practice I’ve ever seen.
Area number two, the value that you deliver to clients. Now, admittedly, this one is tough to measure and it is very subjective, because how do we define value? This varies dramatically from one practice to the next, from one niche to the next, from one advisor to the next. We define it loosely as the number of items of proactive value that you’re delivering to a client multiplied by the quality.
Now, the quality we do is zero to five. Five would be the best work you’ve ever done. Again, this is very subjective, but it’s your measurement. So how often are you proactively delivering value to clients, multiply that by the quality that you would assign it. For example, in my office we, every calendar quarter, set what we call a value add piece out to clients that’s specific, that’s actionable, that helps them understand their finances in a better way.
Area number three to measure practice success, which is prospect growth. In other words, the number of new clients that you’re able to take on each year. This is, of course, assuming new clients that meet your minimums that are within your niche, that is also an area that can be doubled. And the final area, which the first three will drive to, which is profitability or earnings before owner’s comp. How much money is your practice ultimately making? Not the top number, not the number over here, not the number of this, but how much money is ending up on your tax return? That number, if you double the other three, will also double.
So we have effectiveness, we have value to clients, we have prospect growth, and we have EBOC. As I mentioned a minute ago, all four of those areas can be doubled, and for the hardest working advisors, each of those areas, or all of them combined, can be doubled in 36 months or less. Now, again, that’s a bold claim, and most advisors probably can’t do that. The ones that are willing to work hard, the ones like you that are really committed to self-improvement, they can do this.
Now, before I dive into action items on each of these four, and again, next week on the 13th, Mike and I are going to go really deep on this, and we’re going to take you step by step into doubling each one of these. I want you to step back for a second and just say what if it were possible? What if you could double your success in each of these four areas? What if you could double your effectiveness? In other words, what if you could get twice as much done in half the time? I suppose twice as much done in half the time would be 4x, but if you get twice as much done in the same amount of time, or alternatively get the same amount done in half the time, what if that were possible? What would your life be like? What would that extra time off or those extra clients you could serve, what would that look like to you and your life?
What if number two. What if you could double the value that you deliver to clients? Imagine what that would do for your clients. Again, I know you’re delivering a massive value to your clients, otherwise you wouldn’t listen to this podcast, but what if it could be double? Just what if? What would that mean for your clients? What if your strategies, what if your empathy, what if your life planning, what if all those things could double in quality to your clients?
Number three, what if you could double your prospect growth? What if you could have twice as many qualified prospects who also become clients than you currently have? Now, for some of you listening with mature practices, you’re saying, hold on Matthew, I don’t need to double my prospect growth. I already have the practice that I want. I’ll debate that with you another day, and I will also point out to you that we now are developing a program in The Perfect RIA for advisors with too many prospects that we can partner with you to get those a good home. For everyone else, imagine you had twice as many leads, twice as many prospects, twice as many people becoming clients. What would that mean for you in your life?
Then finally, if you were able to double these three things, what if you could double them, it would ultimately lead you to doubling your profits, doubling your take-home income. What would that mean? Now, again, this podcast speaks to a spectrum of advisors. Some advisors are saying, “Hey, if I could double my income, my take-home income, that would mean that I could get out of debt. I could have some comfort.” I definitely remember those days. For other advisors, you might be thinking, “Well, I already have all the income that I need. I don’t need to double my income.” Perfect. What if you did? What would that mean for your family legacy? What would that mean for the nonprofit organizations you support?
What would that mean for your ability to do pro bono financial planner? So just what if these things, and I would boil all these what-ifs down to a single post-it note. What if I could double my practice? What would that mean for me, for my family, for the causes I care about, for my clients, what would that mean? Single post-it note.
As I mentioned, we’re going to dive deep into that next week, but I want to give you action items, always action items. Even if you don’t attend the webinar, which would be a real miss, but action items that you can take right away that will help you double in each of these areas. So to double your effectiveness, the first action item would be, and we harp on this all the time, stop checking emails. In fact, more specifically, check your emails only once a day.
That’s action item number one. If you really are committed to doubling your effectiveness, stop checking email except for once a day. Action item number two for doubling your effectiveness, stop working Fridays, or if you’re in a real growth mode, Fridays become purely a prospected day. You do nothing but pure prospecting, no research, no emails, no followups, purely prospecting. Now you may think, wait a second. How will that double my effectiveness? And the way it will do that is by hacking Parkinson’s law. Right now you’re mysteriously able to get everything done in the amount of time you allocate to it. Cutting one day out a week will at first seem overwhelming, but it will force you to dramatically increase your effectiveness. And after a few weeks, you’ll find that you get all of the same things done. So double your effectiveness, email once a day, stop working Fridays.
Oh, sorry. Number three. Never take an incoming phone call from anyone. Let me just repeat that one. Never take an incoming phone call from anyone. The only exception to that would be like your spouse or your partner. That would be it, but a prospect calls in, a client calls in, the SEC calls in, the FBI calls in. I don’t care who’s calling in. Every single person would get, “Oh, I’m sorry. Mr. Adviser’s helping another client right now. Can I have him call you back at X time? Can I have him call you back this afternoon at 3:00 PM?” Or “Can I have you call you back in 30 minutes?” “Perfect. What can I tell them that it’s regarding?” This approach while it might seem small, it makes a dramatic difference. I go into this in great detail in my book, Deliver Massive Value, which is now on Amazon by the time you’re listening to this episode, and we go to a lot of detail on this, but doubling your effectiveness includes never take an incoming phone call from anyone other than, again, your spouse.
Okay, let’s go to doubling the value that you deliver to clients. Three things you can implement right away to double the value to your clients. Item number one, map out a calendar for the next year of what value adds you are going to deliver to each client, and when you’re going to do that. In our office, we do it each calendar quarter with billing and our performance reports. So each calendar quarter, that’s our frequency, so we’ll map out what we’re doing. For example, in October, we just sent out our year-end tax planning value add. In January, we’ll send out our 1099 value add. In April, we’ll send out an estate planning value add along with required distributions. In June or July, we’ll send out a guardrails. In the fall, we’ll do taxes again. So we’ve got mapped out. Go ahead and map that out, how you’re going to proactively deliver value to clients, because it will also give you the tool that you need in your client meetings.
The second item on doubling your value, become a master at tax planning. Now you’re not going to do tax preparation, and you’re not going to “provide tax advice,” because there’s some legal and compliance issues there, but you can become a master of tax planning. The best resource, and I’m a little bit biased here because it’s run by my brother, Retirement Tax Services, great resource for advisors who really want to deliver massive value in tax planning. Go check out retirement tax services, sign up for their membership, really become a master of tax planning. If you’re an Invictus member of The Perfect RIA, you get retirement tax services included in your membership.
Item number three for doubling your value. Through all of your client meetings, you’re probably in surge right now. And if you’re not, I’d be curious when you’re doing your surge. Ask every client in person, just really quickly, “Mr. and Mrs. Client, it would really help me to know what it is we do for you that you find most valuable. And also, what is it that we do that you find the least valuable?” And just get their feedback on that so that you can adjust and improve. Because obviously the person who knows best what they need is your client. That may or may not always be the case, but getting that feedback from them is incredible. Do not, five-star tip, do not do this in writing. Advisors often make the mistake of sending out surveys to clients in writing. That is a great opportunity to get a written complaint. So a client thinks they’re giving valuable feedback and they type in something negative in that, that could be construed as a written complaint, and now you have a compliance issue, five star tip there.
Doubling your value. Map out for the next year what your value adds are going to be, become a master at tax planning, and ask every client what the most and least valuable services are that you do for them. Doubling your prospect pipeline. Three action items here. Number one, establish a weekly KPI or scorecard on your marketing, something that you can control, something that you can directly control. Now you can have other KPIs. For example, if your marketing channel, if your prospecting channel is website heavy, you might be tracking unique page visits and things like that. That’s not something you can directly control. There’s a lag time there. What you could control are number of pieces published, or the quality of pieces published. For me, I track in our office centers of influence contacted, media outlets contacted, and opportunities to network attended.
Now that last one’s been a little trickier during COVID, but you still make do. The first one for doubling your prospects is to have a KPI that you update every week that is 100% in your control so that when it goes down or to zero, you can bump that back up. Advisors are notorious, myself included, for saying, “Yeah. I’ve been doing tons of prospecting activities.” Perfect. Perfect. Show me your calendar. Show me. So advisors will tell me, they’ll say “Matthew, I followed your center of influence strategy to the letter.” Perfect. How many centers of influence did you contact this week? Well, none. How many did you contact last week? Well, now that you mentioned it, none. How about the week before? How about the week before? It turns out that six months ago they had done one round of phone calls and that was it.
Of course, it didn’t work. Of course, it didn’t work. So you’ve got to track these things. Action item number one, establish a weekly KPI on your marketing. Number two, and this is not for the faint of heart, but if you really want to double your prospects, you have to record your prospect meetings, at least the audio. This is very easy over Zoom, because it’s just easy to push the record button. So that’s part one of that. Part two that is you’ve got to go back and watch these recordings. This is painful to do, but it’s how you get better. All of the best performers go back and watch their performances. You watch a football game, an NFL game, when the offense leaves the field, they immediately have all those tablets out, and they’re watching those plays again to see what they can learn from that. All of the best performers watch their performance.
If you want to be a best performer, you have to watch them. Now, if you really want to grow your prospect ability, if you really want to double here, have an advisor you trust, one that is more successful than you, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement, an NDA, and let them watch the video. This is not for the faint of heart. I promise you it will improve your prospecting process dramatically. If you are an Invictus member, you can send it in to Lifestyle at The Perfect RIA, and myself or Micah will be glad to watch it. If you’re a backstage pass member, go ahead and send that into Lifestyle, The Perfect RIA, and Shelby who has reviewed a lot of these, will give you some great feedback on that as well.
Number three for doubling your prospects, put in writing your entire prospect process. Prospect process is from the moment that someone expresses interest in your firm to the moment they become a client or drop out. What is that entire process? And look at each step on how you can deliver value on every step, including things as small as the confirmation emails or your Calendly link or any of these things. Every single step, every single mouse click has to deliver value. Go back and look at each step and say how do I deliver more value?
To double your prospects, establish a weekly KPI on your marketing, record your prospect meetings. Again, not for the faint of heart, but we’re talking about double here, and then put in writing your prospect process and find more value in each step.
Last, but certainly not least, is doubling your profits, doubling your take-home pay. I promise you that if you do these other things, doubling your effectiveness, doubling your value, doubling your prospects, you will easily double your profits, but let’s go three specific action items you can do right now so you don’t have to wait for someday.
Action item number one, raise your fees, raise your fees. I just completed this a few weeks ago. I mentioned this in the podcast. I sent out fee increase letters, because I do it over letters because I like to do it that way, to a group of clients. And it was soul-crushing. It’s very difficult to raise fees emotionally. It’s critical to do. If you are increasing your value, if you’ve doubled your value or come anywhere close to that, you need to be raising your fees. Later this year, Micah and I will do an entire webinar on raising your fees, and for our backstage pass and Invictus members, there’s some recordings on raising your fees that we’ve done in the past. So that’s item number one.
Item number two, print a report from QuickBooks or wherever else you’re keeping your finances, of every expense that you’ve paid this year, year-to-date. Start with the smallest dollar amount, go to the largest. This goes from the top, top, top, top, top line. So starting with the money being pulled from the client’s account for fees are being collected, where is every penny of that money going? And then the exercise to do is to take each one of the items on that list, top to bottom, and say if I had to cut that item, what would I do?
You might look at something and say, my office. Why, I can’t cut my office. Well, what if you had to? What would be your alternative? If you had to eliminate this expense, if I had to eliminate my copy machines, if I had to eliminate this, that, or the other, what would I do instead? Now I’m not saying you’re going to eliminate those things, but it’s an exercise. We get kind of anchored on, well, this is just how much it costs to do business. It doesn’t, it doesn’t. If your EBOC is not north of 50%, again, our target range is 50 to 70% EBOC, meaning of every dollar pulled from the client’s account, 50 to 70 of those cents ends up in your pocket, well minus taxes, but ends up in your pocket. Item number three for doubling your profits, focus on the other three areas: doubling effectiveness, doubling value, doubling prospects, and this one will follow. This one will follow.
That was a lot of action items, nine to be exact. And we’re going to, as I mentioned, go over this in great detail next week. In fact, we’re going to send you, if you register by this Thursday, the 7th, we’re going to mail you a physical mountain map that you can follow along with so that when you’re done with this webinar, you can put this mountain map up on your wall and have very clear direction on where you’re at, where you’re trying to go, and what your next three or four steps are, not generic, but your next three or four steps are in each area.
So action items for this podcast, and then I’ll let you go in peace. Action item number one, on one post-it note, write what your life would be like if you were able to double your success in each of these four areas. Really just sort of envision that. Just say what if it was possible, nevermind how, nevermind when, nevermind what, just if it was possible, what would that look like?
Action item number two. On October 13th at 9 AM Pacific, we will have an entire webinar on this topic. Visit theperfectria.com to register. Very valuable, very valuable webinar. Micah and I have been working for quite some time on this one, how to double your success. We’re really going to pull back the curtain on where we’ve been doubling success and continue to do so.
Action item number three, visit kitces.com, Michael Kitces’ website, kitces.com, to hear my interview with Michael Kitces, where we talk at length about raising fees, about bringing on new prospects, about charging a premium fee. Take a listen to that, and look for action items that you can pull out. What can you learn from and say, “Huh. Jarvis is just a normal guy. I’m at least as smart as Jarvis. What can I do? What can I do better than him?” So pull that up.
Action item number four, attend the webinar. So registering for the webinar doesn’t count. You have to attend for it to work. Last and final action item, another shameless plug, go to amazon.com or to The Perfect RIA and buy a copy of my book, Delivering Massive Value. I spent quite a lot of time documenting the top lessons that I’ve learned in the last 10 years on building a wildly successful practice. And I’ve outlined them all for you in great detail. So thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Really appreciate it. Be sure to share with your friends, and until next time, happy planning.
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