August 27, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
My husband, Scott, and I live on a small hobby farm in rural Iowa consisting of a few unruly acres, a 160-year-old farm house, and a menagerie of animals. I’ll translate that for you: I’m broke and always fixing something.
I have taught myself to be pretty handy. I have a tool belt; I can do some plumbing; and my 18-Volt ½-inch Cordless Nickel Cadmium Compact Drill is my prize possession.
One day I went into a large home improvement store looking for a length of chain long enough to wrap around a fence post, and the gate that holds it closed, because my goats had been escaping.
While selecting the chain, an associate came to my aid. I explained that I needed to have a piece of chain cut. He responded, “Do you have a man to help with this project?” (Remember, I just needed a chain to hold the gate shut.) He then asked how much chain I needed. “Do you need enough to wrap around my arm?” he said showing me the girth of his arm. “Or, is it more like my thigh?” he said, standing on one leg with his other knee in the air. Oh boy . . .
I normally find these situations amusing, and will joke that I’m pretty handy . . . for a girl. It shouldn’t make any difference that I’m a female. I have all the faculties I need to use power tools!
Are you a pretty good financial professional . . . for a girl? According to a survey conducted by Edward Jones, one in five cited the financial services industry as the hardest glass ceiling for women to break through.1
Why is that? Don’t women have all the faculties necessary to excel in this profession? In the survey, which polled 1,010 men and women, 83% of respondents not only agreed that women faced career barriers, but cited a male-dominated environment as the main impediment.
Other obstacles the survey noted were: juggling family and corporate responsibilities; inadequate policies for women; and lack of mentoring and defined career paths.
Fortunately, there are programs available to support and mentor women in this industry. Check out our Women’s Mentoring Agent NetworkTM (WOMANTM). This program is dedicated to helping independent, female financial professionals to develop their practices—in spite of the male-dominated environment—by providing opportunities to network, share, and learn from their peers.
For some great face time with other female financial professionals, join us September 18 to 20 in Panora, Iowa for the WOMANTM Fall Forum. This event gives women the opportunity to discuss relevant topics with their peers; learn what makes other women in this industry successful; and cultivate valuable relationships.
To learn more about this event and the WOMANTM program, visit www.BILTD.com/woman.
1 Edward Jones 2013. Edward Jones Survey Reveals 65 Percent of Americans Agree “Glass Ceiling” Remains a Career Barrier for Women. [press release] June 5, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/edward-jones-survey-reveals-65-percent-of-americans-agree-glass-ceiling-remains-as-career-barrier-for-women-210226341.html
August 22, 2013 by Kyle Pieper
In a previous blog, you learned why obtaining a Series 65 license is a necessity for professionals looking to become an investment adviser representative. This blog focuses on other securities licenses, and why they may be important for professionals to consider. Here are the basic licenses required of securities agents: Series 6-Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative This license provides authorization to sell “packaged” investments, including mutual funds, variable annuities, and unit investment trusts.
- Questions: 100 multiple choice
- Testing time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Series 7-General Securities Representative Authorization to sell individual security items such as common and preferred stocks, etfs, bonds and other individual fixed income investments (including products with Series 6.)
- Questions: 250 (administered in two parts of 125 questions each) multiple choice
- Testing time: 3 hours for each part
Series 63-Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination Gives authorization by state to conduct business; required for all Series 6 and 7 holders.
- Questions: 60 multiple choice
- Testing time; 1 hour and 15 minutes
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) oversees licensing procedures and requirements. FINRA also administers the exams and keeps track of the records. For information on all of the license types and testing requirements, visit the FINRA website. ADR-1169
August 15, 2013 by Courtney Redfern
More than likely, you spend a great deal of time preparing for client meetings. You research your client’s existing situation. You create proposals to help provide solutions for potential pain points. And you follow up with your clients to make sure they are happy with the solution.
While your client meeting may be the most important interaction you have with your client, it’s not the only one. In other words, your client will have several interactions with you and your business before they even attend a one-on-one meeting.
As you can see in the diagram below, you interact with your client in several ways.
In my last blog post, I posed the question, “What’s your client’s experience?” But now I’d like to ask, “Do you deliver a consistent client experience?”
Have you put the same time and energy into your other client interactions, also known as touch points, to make sure they are just as deliberate and as well planned as your client meeting?
Take a few minutes and step into your client’s shoes. To get started, download our tips for consistent consumer touchpoints.
August 13, 2013 by Pat Lanigan
We have one question in this month’s Q&A with a detailed answer provided by Sheryl Moore, President and CEO at Moore Market Intelligence and authority on indexed annuity products.
Pat: How much consideration should we put into guarantees on participation rates, loan rates, account value enhancements, ect. when there is still moving parts in other areas?
Sheryl: One must always remember that with an unbundled insurance product, such as universal life, no one product feature determines the competitiveness of a product. Sure, the cost of insurance (COI) rates might be competitive, but the premium loads may be exorbitant. On the other hand, the loan rate may be very aggressive and the per thousand charges may be prohibitive. If there is one rule that all those dealing with UL should remember, it is that “the total is greater than the sum of its parts.” Evaluate these products in whole against one another, or you may be comparing apples to oranges.
Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.
August 6, 2013 by Rebecca Anderson
Image is everything.
This phrase was popularized in a 1990 ad campaign for Canon. The 30-second commercial for the Canon Rebel featured tennis great Andre Agassi hitting balls, laying by the pool and hanging out on the Vegas strip. The spot ends with Agassi’s eyes peeking out from behind his sunglasses and stating, “Image is everything.”1
Even if the campaign didn’t cause shutterbugs to drop their Kodaks and Nikons in a rush to be more like Agassi, it did affect the vernacular in certain circles (mainly those who think about branding, logos, and company image).
So sit back and think about what your brand looks like. What is your image? What do people think when they see your marketing materials? Do your materials reflect you and your strengths as a financial professional?
In previous branding blog posts, I’ve written about the need to take inventory of your brand, and formulate a strategy. That strategy has to include your image.
The easiest place to start building an image is your logo. There are tons of resources on this. I found this blog (and it just happens to be the first to appear on my Google search) which is a great resource, http://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design/pro-guide-logo-design-21221. Keep in mind that logo design, if done well, will cost you money. But it’s an investment that if done right, will pay returns for years.
Next you need to think about a tagline for your business. What’s a phrase that you can use to sum up your business or service? When developing this tagline, go back to your brand inventory and look for some of the key themes that speak to what your business is really about. Think about your ultimate purpose.
And finally, put some color with things. Pick one or two colors (which are likely to be found in your logo) and use them. Resist the urge to use every color in the Crayola box, and stick to the few that match your logo.
When it’s all put together, get some feedback. Show it to people and see what they think. Get their first impressions and make tweaks from there.
And then once it’s all put together, use your logo and tagline on all of your materials. Pound it into people’s heads. The goal is to create visual recognition, and get people to remember your look. But make sure you put some thought into it, and don’t just slap something together.
Because image is everything.
August 1, 2013 by Brokers International, Ltd.
By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.
“Today everyone is a star—they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.” Bette Davis
The time of earning credibility via exposure is back. Unlike when Bette Davis was on the silver screen, it is now captivating audiences in high definition on mobile devices.
Earned media (media exposure that does not cost anything) is one of the hottest terms in modern day marketing and communications. For example, people who are interviewed for a television, radio, newspaper or magazine to comment on a trend or issue, do not pay for this exposure. Certainly there are opportunities in all media for paid commercials and shows, but it is typically very easy for the audience to tell the difference between an ad and legitimate news. Once the audience is aware that the exposure was paid for, the information is viewed in a different and more skeptical light. By contrast, people interviewed for news stories are often perceived as knowledgeable and experienced in their field, simply because a trusted news outlet chose to ask for their input.
Social media marketing is another type of earned media. According to Mashable, “Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks.” When social media users share content, it is because the content is interesting, not because anyone is paying them to spread the message. What happens when you combine earned media via legitimate news interviews with social media marketing? It’s an impressive combination that has helped our clients become successful.
More and more companies are spending time and energy on earned media. According to a recent article in Business Insider, “Eighty-four percent of businesses said ‘the trend toward earned media via social media marketing’ was quite significant or highly significant to their organizations, and 90% believed it would be so by 2015, according to a recent Econsultancy and Adobe survey.”1 And if you think that no one watches the TV news anymore—you are wrong. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, 55% of adults say they turn to television for news about current events.2
Television, radio, newspaper or magazine, earned media is rooted in talent, quality content and experience.
1 Ballvé, M. Earned Media and Social Media: How Brands can get Beyond the Hype. Business Insider. July 2013. Download the PDF.
2Saad, Lydia. TV is Americans’ Main Source of News. Gallup® Politics. July 2013. http://www.gallup.com/poll/163412/americans-main-source-news.aspx
July 25, 2013 by Courtney Redfern
When was the last time you thought of your interaction with a business as an experience? Most of us don’t—until we have a bad one.
When my husband and I purchased a new camper, we sought out a loan with the lowest interest rate. As a result, we have a new relationship with a bank we have not done business with in the past.
Five days before my first payment was due, I received a letter from the bank confirming my loan total and monthly payment amount. Instead of providing the payment book originally promised, I received a web address to make an online payment.
Slightly irritated, I went straight to my computer to make the payment. After searching the home page, I finally found a blue button to gain “instant access” to online banking. I was immediately asked for my account number, which I had not received.
Little by little, my account access was becoming less instant. I called the 800 number on the letter. After weaving through the automated phone system twice, waiting on hold for a total of six minutes, and talking to two representatives, I finally received my account number. I never expected a company to make it so difficult to pay them.
Now, obviously this experience has frustrated me. I will not recommend this new bank or seek out another loan with them, because they did not make it easy for me to do business with them. They may have a better rate, but they did not deliver on the customer experience.
What are your clients’ experiences? Do you make it easy for them to do business with you? Have you actually stopped to ask your clients how you are doing?
If not, this is a great time to solicit their feedback. It can be as simple as sending a short survey. A well-crafted client survey can provide you with valuable feedback about you and your firm. It can also help you increase client retention, strengthen relationships, capture testimonials, and gain new referrals.
Plus, your clients will be flattered that you took the time to seek out their opinion and provide them with a more meaningful experience.
Download our survey tips here to help you create your own client survey.
July 23, 2013 by Kyle Pieper
If you’re an experienced financial professional looking to make the leap into the advisory business, you’re probably wondering which option may be best for you.
Do you become an Investment Adviser Representative (IAR) or a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA)? In my last blog, you learned the benefits of becoming an IAR and how earning a Series 65 license can open up some opportunities for your clients.
The other choice is to start your own RIA. Starting your own RIA has numerous appeals. One of which is creating a business that aligns with your personal goals and style.
Starting an independent advisory business is not without its challenges. But, the lure of the opportunity shouldn’t be overshadowed by the details needed to grow the business.
Here is a short list of items that need to be developed and implemented if you decide to open an RIA. To learn more, download a more comprehensive analysis here.
- Operations and compliance support
- Policies and procedures
- Advertising review and website review
- Fees and expenses
- Audit support
- Technology expenses
- Building an infrastructure
- Cost of operations vs. marketing
- Understanding your strengths and weaknesses
If this list causes concern, it may be a better option to affiliate with an established RIA, like Brokers International Financial Services, LLC. When you affiliate with an established RIA, you gain a partner and become part of an organization that has the same interest as yours, without the investment it takes to go it alone.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Brokers International Financial Services LLC, Panora, Iowa. Member FINRA/SIPC.