Today Matthew and Micah are joined by Brian Skinner to debrief after the recent mastermind and discuss important things they learned, including what worked—and what didn’t work. They also talk about the best ways to learn from the success of others in the field and where to be cautious when implementing changes.
Listen in as Brian shares a bit of his backstory, as well as what systems he changed that allowed him to deliver more value to his clients. You’ll hear about the changes implemented into his practice and get some great insight from all the guys regarding the head trash that comes with change. They also break down how to deal with it all and move your practice forward in a positive way.
Want to double your business? It’s all about being intentional about doubling your value.
Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski, hosts of The Perfect RIA podcast, often encourage other advisors to double their income the way they did, but is such a transformation really achievable for most practices?
Rockstar financial advisor and TPR listener Brian Skinner is living proof that it’s possible to double a business’s value in two short years by adding more and more value for clients. Today, Brian joins Matthew and Micah shares the five key lessons he learned while transforming his already successful practice into the lifestyle practice of his dreams, all while maintaining a healthy work-life balance and staying present for the people he loves.
Brian Skinner has always been focused on growth, and he has a deep passion for his business. He’s always had a growth mindset. But he knew there was so much more out there to learn. The top performers in his industry were clearly doing something that gave them a level of success Brian had only dreamed of—but what?
He knew he needed to close the gap between where he was and where he wanted to be. To accomplish this, Brian asked himself the question that changed everything: How do I build a structured, systematized business?
Fast-forward just two short years, and Brian has paved the way for the life he wants to live and the business he wants to have. Brian recently spoke to Matthew and Micah of The Perfect RIA podcast to share the five biggest changes any financial advisor can make to transform their business in the same ways.
Like many advisors, Brian started out by answering his own phones. He knew it wasn’t the best use of his time, but he was carrying a lot of headtrash and didn’t know how to step back. Finally, Brian realized his clients didn’t really need him to answer the phone. They needed him to manage their money.
Brian explains: “The way that I provide the most value to clients is by working on their financial plan and strategy, meeting with them, going over investment planning, and the other high-level things the practice really does. Things like answering the phone, scheduling, answering emails—that’s not providing any value. That’s a gateway to get to what I can do really well.” Find someone else on your team to take over these tasks, and you’re free to focus on what you really do best.
And delegating does more than just keep you from applying your skills and talents effectively; it destroys your productivity. By breaking his focus every five minutes to answer a call, Brian was pulling himself away from focusing on the task at hand: building a financial plan, meeting with a client, developing a strategy, or implementing something meaningful for the future of his business.
As a financial advisor, you have a lonely profession, which often means there’s no venue to experience information flowing back and forth between you and other top advisors. That’s why it’s so important to reach beyond your own walls and find out what strategies other advisors use to succeed.
“They’ve made the mistakes,” Brian explains. “They’ve gone through all the ups and downs of it, and I imagine that those same mistakes are mistakes I’d be making too. So why make those mistakes myself?” By reading and listening widely to thought leaders and high-level achievers in your industry, you gain important insight that lets you skip past all the first-time fumbles and jump right to implementing proven best practices.
Further, by widening your lens and considering new sources of ideas—such as The Perfect RIA podcast—you’ll encounter exciting new strategies and concepts you may not have considered before. In fact, that’s how Brian was able to grow his own version of success.
“Until I listened to these podcasts and started connecting with some of the other guy’s Matt and Micah know in the industry, I didn’t know other advisors didn’t answer their phone,” Brian admits. “I didn’t know that was a path.”
To keep everything running smoothly, it’s not enough to just move an important task off your plate and onto someone else’s. You have to put good systems and processes in place so everything gets done, nothing gets dropped, and all your clients feel taken care of.
For example, the person who answers the phone for you knows they have to check your availability, but do they have a process for telling you why a client is calling? This was part of the system Brian set up to ensure seamless scheduling when he stepped back from answering his own phones. Now, in addition to knowing who to call back, he always knows why they were calling and what to review ahead of time.
“I can deliver more value on that phone call if I’m prepared for it,” Brian confirms. Without a good system in place for finding out what a client is calling about, you’ll be caught off guard, scrambling for an answer off the top of your head instead of being prepared with a better answer.
You have to be intentional about how and when you meet with clients, and regular listeners to The Perfect RIA podcast won’t be surprised that this means implementing a surge schedule. Brian may be a relative newcomer to surge, but after just his first set of back-to-back client meetings, he can already see his business transforming before his eyes.
As Brian explains, “Everything about it’s better. The prep for the meeting is better because it’s more consistent. The meeting itself is better because you get in assembly-line mode—a lot of the meetings are relatively similar in the topics that you’re talking about, and you can get in that mode where you’re just crushing those meetings. And then the follow-through is so much better.”
In this lonely industry, when you’re in your office, you are at the top of the pyramid. You’re the one who’s expected to have all the answers and solve all the problems. This comes with a certain level of stress and no one else on your level to decompress with. That’s why it’s crucial to find a community of peers and achievers to talk shop with, exchange tips and best practices, solve each other’s problems, and generally have each other’s backs.
“Having that community is so important,” Brian agrees. On his own, he might consider a problem insurmountable, but once he talks it out with his other advisor friends and mentors, he realizes it isn’t so insurmountable after all. If you’re an advisor trying to double your business, the perspective you’ll gain by meeting with your peers across your industry can help your business reach new heights.
Advisors tend to overcomplicate things. We look at someone who is successful, take that, duplicate it, and redo everything in order to duplicate their success—and then we’re shocked when it kind of blows up. - Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet
Take advice from someone who has the practice that you want. – Brian Skinner Click To Tweet
It may be very simple, but it’s hard work that we have to do. – Matthew Jarvis Click To Tweet
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…
Micah Shilanski: Welcome to another great episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I’m your host, and co-founder, Micah Shilanski. With me, as usual, is the amazing Matthew Jarvis. But in addition to that, we have another rockstar advisor joining us in this 12 by 12. We’ll get to those jokes in just a minute, but we have another rockstar advisor, Brian Skinner, joining us today.
Brian, thank you so much.
Brian Skinner: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, guys. Really appreciate it.
Matthew Jarvis: So we just finished up an Invictus mastermind.
Brian Skinner: Yep.
Matthew Jarvis: And so we spent a couple days together in Tennessee. We learned some great things, had some rockstar advisors to be with. And so we’re super excited to kind of debrief about that and talk about things that work and things that don’t work.
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Brian Skinner: Absolutely.
Matthew Jarvis: For those of you watching on YouTube, and you’re wondering why we’re in a cubicle, we are in fact in the Nashville airport recording, and we found these cool little suites. So if you want laugh, go ahead and look at the YouTube video. That’s why we’re crammed into this little room. Pretty tight in here.
Brian Skinner: Light coming off the out of the top of my head. I don’t know what’s going on there.
Matthew Jarvis: Brian, you shared with us on this mastermind the last 2 days that over the roughly last 2 years, you’ve roughly doubled your take-home income, which is a result of doubling the value that you’re delivering to clients. So today we want to talk about a couple of the lessons that you learned, the things that you implemented, that you think really made a contribution to that doubling.
Brian Skinner: Let’s get into it.
Micah Shilanski: And I’d love to start off too, if you guys like this series, we’d love some feedback in it. We’re going to call this the “Doing what works series”. Often what I have found is that advisors, guilty right here, tend to over-complicate things. We look at someone that’s successful and we’re like, okay, great now we’re going to take that. We’re going to change it completely. We’re going to redo absolutely everything in order to duplicate their success. And then we’re shocked that, when we change things that we thought were minor, that we thought were improvements, it kind of blows up. So if you were a listener and you’ve ever done that, IE every advisor out there, you need to be paying attention to this. Brian, I’d love you to walk us through first, you’ve made some massive improvements, but where were you? Paint that picture for our audience. Because we’ve all been there. Go back to that. Then let’s talk about where you’re at now. Let’s talk about filling that gap. Is that going to be good?
Brian Skinner: So I started the industry 2009. I’ve always been focused on growth. I have a deep passion for the business. I love financial planning and everything about it, always had a growth mindset. I’ve been good at growth. And I’ve been thinking about, how do I have a really structured, systematized business? I had no idea how to get there. We were talking before in the airport lobby, how this is a really lonely profession. You don’t have a ton of ability to connect with other people to find best practices. I was at a firm, COVID happened, the office closed.
Even at the Firm, I learned a lot from the guys that I grew up in the business with, but there’s so much more out there. What are the top people in the industry doing? And how are they doing things? I never had a roadmap of how to get from where I was to where I want to be. And that gap seemed huge. How do I close that?
Micah Shilanski: It’s grand canyon, right? Insurmountable.
Brian Skinner: Then COVID happened. I had never done a Zoom meeting before, I was telling you guys, and COVID forced everybody on Zoom. That opened my eyes to, wow, all of these things are possible, all these practices I hear about. If 2 people can do it, I can do it too. So I started listening to different podcasts, Michael Kitch is having the biggest one in our industry. I listened to the podcast he did we with each of you, I’m like, I connect with what these guys have. Just like you’ve said in the podcast before, you should try to build something or take advice from someone that has a practice that you want.
They’ve done it. They’ve made the mistakes. They’ve gone through all the ups and downs of it. And now they’re at this place. And I imagine that those same mistakes are mistakes that I’d be making too. So why make those mistakes myself? Just go right to the end of, this is the best way to do it, do it this way. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m not even coming up with all these practice changes I’ve made, almost none of them are original ideas. I’m just taking ideas from guys like you who have done it and this is what works. I just do it that way too.
Micah Shilanski: Now, as we go through this, one of the things that I want to highlight is the work that this takes. That can be really easy. And when we say this isn’t complex. sometimes people think that means it should be easy. No. It’s very simple, but it’s hard work that we have to do. So that’s the really important part as we talk about this process. You put in the grind, you put in the time in order to make this go through. If we run that clock pre-COVID, client calls, what happens?
Brian Skinner: The call goes right to me. I answer the phone. I’m in my email every day. But talking about phones specifically, I answered all of my own phone calls for the most part. Until I listened to these podcasts, and connecting with some of the other guys that you know in the industry, I didn’t know that other advisors didn’t answer their phone. I didn’t know that other advisors didn’t manage all their own email and be in it every single day.
So I didn’t know that was a path. I would love to not have to answer my phone because it’s not a value adding activity. I didn’t know how to get there though. I had a lot of, as you would say, head trash around, how am I going to do this? Are people going to be really upset now when they call the office and it’s not Brian that picks up the phone, the answer is no.
Just like the doctor’s office analogy. When you call the office for Dr. White, he doesn’t pick up the phone. The front desk person does. The doctor’s in with patients, usually all day. And maybe he doesn’t get back to you for 2 days or 3 days. I don’t want to take that long to get back to someone. But I don’t need to be the person who picks it up either.
Matthew Jarvis: For our listeners, if you are answering your phones right now, if you’re an advisor, answering your phone, pay really close attention. Brian’s going to talk about how he made this transition. If you’re saying, “Oh, I would never answer my phones. I solved that years ago.” We all still have that thing. Maybe it’s checking emails, Brian, as you mentioned, maybe it’s opening the physical mail. Maybe it’s thinking that you need to be at the desk a certain number of hours or work until a certain hour. We all have that thing, Micah, you and I included, where we think, oh, this is something I have to do. You don’t. In fact, not only is it not helping the client experience like answering phone, it’s actually taking away. It’s weakening. Why is Brian able to answer the phone? Is he ever busy?
Micah Shilanski: Brian, I’d love you to jump in and say, “Why is this?” Let’s close this dot. With crayons, if that’s all right. Why is this not valuable to a client for you to answer the phone, one? And then let’s jump into the process on how you fix it.
Brian Skinner: The way that I provide the most value to clients is by working in their financial plan, their strategy, meeting with them, going over investment planning, the high level things that the practice really does. Those things like answering the phone, scheduling, answering emails, that’s not providing any value. That’s a gateway to get to what I can do really well. So if I’m breaking my focus every 5 minutes to answer a phone call or answer an email, that’s pulling me away from what I need to be really doing, which is focusing on exactly the task at hand, which is building a financial plan, meeting with a client, developing a strategy or implementing something.
Matthew Jarvis: Now I’ll pick that apart just a little bit, if I may. Some of the head trash that comes in and says, my value is doing financial planning. So if a client calls with a financial planning question, then they have me. Now I can answer their financial planning question. But there’s a fallacy in that, right?
Brian Skinner: Yep.
Matthew Jarvis: One of the big fallacies is when that client calls, you’re caught off guard. You haven’t looked at anything in advance and you are on the verge of making a massive planning mistake. That’s what you’re on the verge of. You may get it right. But the reality is, you’re doing a client a disservice by answering that question right away and not having time to evaluate, to step back and look at it, review everything. That is my opinion. What about your thoughts on that?
Brian Skinner: A hundred percent. And some of the systems that you implement, and when you coach the person who’s answering the phones for you, is to try to get the client to tell them why are they calling? If I knew why they were calling before I called them back, or I have a scheduled time to call them back and the time that my assistant set it in the calendar, and then she puts a note in that meeting, Mr. Jones wants to talk about long-term care. Perfect. Let me go back in their Redtail document folder and pull up the long-term care quotes that we ran so I know exactly what they look like. I’m not going to be caught off guard, like you said, about what are they actually calling about? And then I’m just trying to scramble for an answer off the top of my head, instead of being prepared for it, to give them a better answer and what we’re all trying to achieve, I can deliver more value on that phone call if I’m prepared for it.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that.
Micah Shilanski: Brian, tell us when you went to your assistant to your team, how did that discussion go? Take us to step one. So you hear on The Perfect RIA podcast, I shouldn’t be answering my phones. Walk us through what was the next step after that?
Brian Skinner: Honestly, the next step for me was, at the level I met with my practice, I needed a second assistant. My assistant now is amazing. She does everything. And does it really well. She’s a jack of all trades, will pick up anything and teach herself, but their capacity to, and honestly, it’s a similar thing. If her focus on doing ops and plan prep and everything else is being broken all the time by answering phone calls, emails, and doing scheduling, she won’t be as good at that.
And frankly, it’s not what she likes to do. She likes to be more behind the scenes. I wanted to have someone who compliments her personality. And all 3 of us are complimenting each other’s skill sets. So I hired Margo and we hired Margo. She is now the person who does manages, kind of like the front of the house. And going over with her, this is how these different phone calls will go. If someone asked this, this is what we tell them. You guys were posted script actually in the backstage pass of a one-page PDF. That was a really great place to start. I was looking for something like that. It was there and I edited it to fit my practice needs. It’s not meant to be an end all, but it’s a good starting place.
And just everything about the training to give to her is about how, one, I’m not available right away, cause I’m almost never in. I’m either in meetings or just unavailable in general, or I can’t have my focus interrupted from the call and then getting the person’s information, delivering that, Four Seasons level customer service, as if do the very, very best because these clients are super important to us and they need to feel that. And then getting from the client what they need to talk to me about.
But, as you’ve mentioned, most of the phone calls, they don’t actually need me to begin with. Some people may think they do, but it’s, Okay Brian, I need to talk to Brian. Okay. Just so Brian knows what you want to talk about. I’d love to know that in advance so I can pass it on to him. Well, I need to change my address and my beneficiary and withdraw $5,000. Well, great. Actually Jessie and the team is the person who handles all of that anyway. So this will happen much faster if we just transferred to Jessie and she can get that done for you right now. Is that okay? And who says no to that?
Micah Shilanski: I love those terminology. Is that okay? And Jessie can do that faster for you than Brian can. Someone’s on the surface, Micah, it seems like, oh, I’m just trying to get this off my plate, I just don’t want to do the work. But it really is, Brian, and your expression: I want the clients to have a better experience and they’re going to have a better experience if they talk to the right person, not get rung straight through to me.
Brian Skinner: I’d also say the mindset of, whenever you’re making a change in the practice, and when you introduce it to clients, always framing it from a perspective of how is this better for them. When they call and ask to withdraw $5,000 or change the beneficiary, I’m not the person who handles that anyway. And for some of these things, in the system, I don’t even know how to do it anymore because Jesse is the person who does that. And she does it really, really well, much better than me. And so it’s about like introducing these changes and why is it better for the client? And then when people see that, okay, great, Brian’s thinking about us and why he’s making this change, he’s always trying to make the experience better.
Matthew Jarvis: And if you can’t see the smile on Brian’s face when he’s talking about this. But you can hear that conviction in his voice. And that’s so important when we’re transferring authority from us to our team members. We’ll call 1-800 service center to get this done. I don’t have a lot of confidence in that. Versus saying, “Hey, great news. Jessie’s going to take care of this. She’s been doing this for eight years. She rocks at her job. She handles all of our client distributions. We’re going to make sure you’re taken care of.” Then, all of a sudden, it’s, oh my gosh, wow. Jessie’s the person I need to talk to about this issue cause we’ve transferred that credibility.
Brian Skinner: And it’s great. It’s important, too, to give team buy-in on this a little bit. So they come back to me and say, “Brian, this isn’t really working that well, these are the suggestions I have and how we can do it better.” Great, let’s talk about that. And a lot of times those are really good ideas and we go with that.
Music: The Perfect RIA challenges financial advisor, to answer the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Surround yourself with the financial advisors who share your common values and goals towards success. The advisor is you. The time is now. Don’t be like most people who fail to take action and achieve their dreams. Go online today at theperfectria.com and decide, decide what type of financial advisor you plan to be.
Matthew Jarvis: So, Brian, we talked about just now, Micah, you highlighted this as well. We only make changes in our practice that benefit our clients. Everything we’re doing we’re first and foremost solving to deliver massive value. You’ve conquered that or you’re delivering massive value. They’re getting better service, they’re getting more responsive service. What did that then mean for you, Brian? As just as a person, as a practice owner, as an advisor, what happened to that time? That distractions?
Brian Skinner: It’s all about what’s my unique ability? There’s books that say that, forget which one’s off the top of my head, but like my time is best spent meeting with clients, working on planning strategy and implementation. Digging deeper into plans, client meetings. Then also allowing a better balance in my personal life. I just got married in January. Talking about having kids. I don’t want to be the person who comes home at 9:00, 4 nights of the week. I’m gone before someone wakes up and get home after they go to bed. How can I deliver a fantastic experience for clients, but also have a life, a work-life balance that doesn’t make my wife want to kill me.
Matthew Jarvis: These are huge things, to really think about that and being proactive with, in doing so. You’ve lost no clients by transferring this over, by the way, but you’re not answering the phones. Just to be clear on this for the head trash. Clients are happy. There’s also no client complaints. You’re not currently in litigation because you transferred your phone.
Micah Shilanski: Compliance didn’t have a fit.
Matthew Jarvis: No, this is a great thing that’s going to be in value.
Brian Skinner: And it’s all about hearing from other people who have done it to me. People who have done it and say, “I did it. This is how it went for me. And this is how easy it was.” Or, even if I had a speed bump that I hit, this is how I overcame it. Or this is what you should look out for when you did it. But with something as simple as that, there was none. It was all between the ears. Where, what I thought was going to happen, like the Tim Ferriss fear setting, what is the worst thing that could happen? What am I afraid of? Everyone’s going to leave the practice because someone else was picking up the phone? No, it doesn’t work that way. It was an easy, seamless transition.
Matthew Jarvis: I love having these discussions, Brian, cause even as we’re walking through this and I haven’t answered my phone for years, but when you mentioned about how you didn’t want your office manager interrupted, it had me thinking, all right, where am I letting my team be interrupted? Do we need to push that down a level? So I love this. And you mentioned speed bumps. We’re going to run into speed bumps. In fact, yesterday, Micah, as you know, I got a call from one of our mastermind friends. He had hit a speed bump in his practice, not necessarily related to this, but having a network of advisors where say, I know that you are equally committed delivering massive value. We have the same growth goals, the same lifestyle goals. If I have a speed bump, I know who I can reach out to. I’m glad to have you as part of that community.
Brian Skinner: In talking about this, the lonely industry, and when you’re in your office, you are at the top of the pyramid. You’re supposed to have the answers, you’re supposed to solve the problems, you’re supposed to be there. There’s a certain matter of stress that’s going to be. Not bad stress, but there’s stress that comes with that. And we need to have a community that’s out there because, I don’t know about you guys, solving other people’s problems is super easy. My problem is the end of the world. Until I articulate them to somebody else, and then Jarvis is like, what they talking about, this super easy. Oh, well, yeah, I guess it’s really not that big of a deal. So having that community is so important.
Micah Shilanski: And I think it’s the expansion of the podcast and, in general, as a medium. To have those formal conversation that happen in the hallway at a broker dealer conference, and now have those in a formal setting that can be accessed when you’re folding your laundry and it can be a fleshed out conversation. That’s 45 minutes on one particular topic was life changing for me.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, Brian, so answering the phones. By the way, just real quick, on the surface that can seem like a little thing. What a nuanced thing. That’s not going to make a difference. It has made a big difference. What are a couple of others? You mentioned that you started doing surge meetings, that you’ve been graduating clients that aren’t a good fit. You’re a prospecting machine. You’re doing live events or virtual live events all the time. Tell us about a couple other things that have made a real difference these last 2 years.
Brian Skinner: Using a calendar tool. I used to do everything via email or on the phone. “Hey, let me send you these few dates that work, actually, those don’t work for me. Okay. Send me some dates that do and back and forth and back and forth.” Who wants that? I use ScheduleOnce where it shows my availability. People pick it. Or it’s some people who don’t like to use email. My assistant will call the client and say, she’ll pull it up and book it as them. Sees the availability, auto generates the Zoom links. Auto does the reminders, lowers cancellations, everything about that. And that’s a $20 a month service. Hugely efficient in doing things better than what we were doing before and it’s automated.
Matthew Jarvis: So Brian, a question on that one. So we hear from a lot of advisors that, now we’ve done the same thing. We do the Calendly. Same difference. But we hear a lot of advisors when we tell them about it. It says, oh, well, I deliver a high value of service to my clients. And if I automate this, this isn’t delivering a high level of service to my clients.
Brian Skinner: So we’re not the only people who use the calendar link systems. When you book a flight, you pick the time you want to fly. So in the Ritz-Carlton, they’re going to say, “Hey, here’s our room reservation.”
Matthew Jarvis: It’s our hotel.
Brian Skinner: I have my handful of clients that don’t like email, they don’t the computer. That’s fine. They can call them. The assistant pulls up the calendar link and books it as them. Types in their name, types in their email, they get the reminders, even if they don’t use them, we still do it through that system. And does these different processes. We used to make all the calls, we used to auto generate the Zoom link. During COVID, I was getting emails 5 minutes before a meeting saying, “Hey Brian, where’s the Zoom link?” Oh shoot. But now as soon as they book it, confirmation email goes out, Zoom links embedded and it’s in all the reminders. You can build custom templates, custom reminder schedules. It cuts down on cancellations, clients like that it’s better for us.
And I also love, even on a booking page, something as simple as, I’m always trying to get people to tell me. I have an agenda. Is there anything that you want to add to it? So people can’t actually book a meeting without saying, Brian has an agenda for the meeting, is there anything you’d like to add to it? And they need to say yes or no. And if they have no, they have to select no, but if they say, yes, it’s please type that in here. So a lot of times they do, I want to talk about college planning, retirement income, and long-term care. Great. I will have all of that prepared for you when we get to the meeting. So it doesn’t involve a second meeting wasting their time and mine.
Matthew Jarvis: And that doesn’t deliver massive value. If you come to the meeting, not prepared to answer their questions, because you didn’t know about the question to be fair because you didn’t ask, you were not delivering massive value to that client. So that simple thing about asking in advance what their questions are, you were prepared for the meeting, it’s massive value.
And it feels like they’re heard. The clients feel like “Oh, he actually cares about what I want to talk about in this meeting.”
Brian Skinner: I think the clients know I would do anything I could to help them. But if I don’t know what it is they need help with, it’s hard to deliver on that. So if I can note, ahead of time, what they want to talk about, what they have questions on, I’ll be prepared to deliver on that as best I can.
Matthew Jarvis: I want to pull out another thing that you said inside of this, which I think another advisors make mistakes and consistently, and it’s something that we work on with our team is always follow the process. So here’s an easy thing right here. You have a ScheduleOnce calendar link. It’s perfect. It goes out, but you made a great point that if a client wants a phone call, your team member uses the ScheduleOnce link. Your team member’s not logging into your Redtail calendar, whatever it is, and doing an entire different process which breaks everything. It’s perfect. They’re going to use the same link the client would’ve gotten and go through that process. You have to follow it the same. So even with an exception because you’re going to call a client, you’re still going to follow that same process, dare I say, of success to make sure it works.
Brian Skinner: Process is something that is incredibly important. It’s always changing. And I know if my team is listening to this, they’re thinking, “Well Brian, it’s great that you love talking about process cause we’d love for you to follow it more.” I’m guilty of it the most but just having it and working towards using it a hundred percent of the time, like you’re advancing in the right direction. I’m guilty of not doing it a hundred percent, but it’s huge. We have it there. Everybody needs to follow it. And when you have that consistency, it’s better for everybody. So much less back and forth, less confusion or mess ups potentially with clients. It’s a huge win.
Micah Shilanski: Now, Brian, you’ve changed your call system. In fact, you even have a list for us of 10 different things you’ve done in the last few months. You’ve doubled your practice you’ve done all these things, so surely this is a result of working twice as many hours.
Brian Skinner: No, it’s not.
Micah Shilanski: So it’s also about that. Because your schedule has changed along with this.
Brian Skinner: Yeah. So implementing the surge meeting schedule. In my brain, I used to do that, where I tried to block my meetings where I could provide the most value and do it in the time of the year where I don’t mind working until 8 or 9:00, in the winter and then in the fall. But I had no system or process around that. Honestly I took Ben Brand’s masterclass on first meetings. Like you guys have talked about it a lot. I’ve listened to those podcasts a couple times through, and same thing, this is new and different. I don’t need to reinvent this. Let’s just start from here. Start with what these guys do. I’m going to do this in this order.
I just went through my first surge cycle two months ago. And we made notes along the way of things I want to do. And I’m already going to be able to do it so much better come fall. And it’s about that same word that you hear all the time, being intentional. I can do seven meetings a day, four days a week. I have it, they’re spaced out where I do 8, 9:30, it’s hour meetings with half hour in between. Everything about it’s better. The prep for the meeting is better. It’s more consistent. The meeting itself is better because you get in assembly-line mode. A lot of the meetings are relatively similar in the topics that you’re talking about and you just get in that mode and you’re just crushing those meetings. And then the follow through is so much better. Immediately go back to my desk.
I know you guys use dictation. I type in the notes, the action items go right to the team. Those follow-ups are done. The expectations are set with clients that, when those follow throughs are going to be acted on and the meeting’s better for the client, it’s better for the team because everybody’s in that assembly-line mode.
And then we have big blocks of time, after that, in which we don’t have a lot of client needs and we can focus on other things that we want to do for the practice with clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Brian, this podcast, as you know, is all about taking action. So what are some action items you would’ve given yourself 2 years ago? If you could go back, what were some action items or for an advisor that says “Boy, where Brian was, that’s where I’m at and I want to get to where Brian is.” What are a couple things that come to mind there?
Brian Skinner: Finding someone who has what you want. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in this business. Chances are, if you have a vision of what you want, someone’s already done it. So you can break your back thinking about all of the different things that you could do to get to this particular direction. Instead of just finding the person who’s already there and finding out how they did it. And then just do that. I don’t have original ideas about practice management or prospecting. There’s no silver bullets here. A lot of times, it’s just copying and implementing.
Micah Shilanski: I would say, related to that, action item number 2 would be, and Brian, you mentioned this related to surge, which would be, implement that system that’s proven. And then adjust it. We spend so much time, like you mentioned this earlier. “Oh I heard about surge, let me spend a bunch of time, fine tune it.”But until you’ve done it, you don’t know how to fine tune it. And what ultimately ends up happening is paralysis by analysis. You actually never end up implementing surge. You’re still answering your phone. Find someone who’s done it, copy what they’re doing. Then tweak it.
Matthew Jarvis: The third thing I think I want to pull out of something else that you said, Brian, which is great. You had made this passing comment that you went back and re-listened to podcasts in classes on there. And this is such a key thing, just because you listen to one podcast, you watch one video, you don’t have it. In a new process, there’s so many things that are out there and these are so powerful to go re-watch the webinars, go redo the podcast, create your process, think what it is, then go back and re-listen to it again. Because this is what experts do. This is what professionals that are at their top of their game, this what they do consistently. Athletes re-watch their game videos. They re-watch the footage that’s there, they go through this again. How can I make these improvements? What did I miss?
Brian Skinner: The example I have is delegating, or having someone help me manage my email inbox. Everybody else, I get inundated with hundred plus emails every day, most of which are garbage. A lot of which I don’t need to be the person to handle because again, if someone wants to change a beneficiary or withdraw $5,000, I’m not the person to best handle that. And so I had no idea how to set up a foldering system or some people do color coding. You guys posted a webinar where your team members, Colleen and Victoria, they’re talking and chatting. I listened to that 4 or 5 times. About this is exactly how we do it. And then I had my team, we watched that same webinar about, this is how these team members do it. Let’s just start with doing it that way. And I implemented it, it was almost seamless. I didn’t have any hiccups. It was unbelievable. And just that alone is so much better.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, any other parting thoughts for us, based on this interview, and Brian, thank you again so much for coming and chatting with us. We’ll forgive you for the 2 alerts that popped up.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, we’re going to talk about that later.
Matthew Jarvis: Brian, it has been great spending time with you these last 2 days at our Invictus member mastermind. I’m sure we’ll see you at future masterminds.
Brian Skinner: I’d love to be there. Prospecting practice, building all of it. It’s a lot of people are doing some really great things. It’s just a matter of getting yourself into a community with people who think like you, whichever way that is and brainstorming about how everyone can level up.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, just remember that, in this industry, you are not alone. We’re all about leveling up. We’re all about increasing. And the best way to do that is to give us 5 stars. Give us that 5-star rating. Join the perfect RA, at least in the community, cause you’re going to have other great advisors like Brian. We’ve got a couple hundred great advisors. We’re all trying to that level-up. Until next time. Oh Micah, before you end this Brian, before everybody hangs, go to theperfectriacom. We are doing a Panel of Success conference in connection with XYPN live on October 8th. So you can visit the perfectria.com to get signed up for that Panel of Success to learn in person from Micah and I, Ben Brand, Steven Jarvis, and a handful of other rockstar advisors like Brian.
Micah Shilanski: Until next, time happy planning.
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