Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her unbiased advisory agency, SullivanKreiss Monetary, in 2004. Having spent the earlier 13 years as an advisor on workers with a publicly traded firm, she needed to depart massive company agendas and proprietary funding merchandise behind. As president of her personal enterprise, Sullivan-Kreiss was wanting to develop a concierge service mannequin constructed round a powerful tradition of fiduciary accountability to shoppers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve at all times based mostly my enterprise on the elemental principal of treating others as I wish to be handled. My goal is de facto quite simple: to place our shoppers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the individuality that every consumer brings to our observe.”
Throughout our conversations, the pressure of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined via. The profitable development of her agency might be seen as emblematic of the depth with which Sullivan-Kreiss engages with shoppers. It additionally highlights her extremely environment friendly use of time. To offer the personalised concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has grow to be a grasp of time administration. She has discovered easy methods to function effectively and collect the required sources to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
In case you’re seeking to go unbiased or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the ability of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise decisions may allow you to chart the way in which towards optimizing your time and setting your agency up for long-term development.
Constructing One thing Particular
For Sullivan-Kreiss, constructing consumer relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every particular person you serve. With the intention to develop a top quality observe, you need to make every consumer really feel particular. That will sound elementary, however it’s vital to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for shoppers via on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to offer assist, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout troublesome occasions.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary shoppers shouldn’t get voicemail after they name, and follow-up to requests and issues should be speedy and correct. However concierge service is greater than that: it’s being proactive versus responsive, going above and past what’s anticipated. Sullivan-Kreiss focuses on long-term, complete monetary planning; she isn’t serious about “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of modifications in shoppers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when growing a plan for a brand new consumer.
The end result? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged neighborhood of long-term shoppers. For her, that’s what makes the advisory enterprise rewarding and enjoyable. And there’s icing on the cake: based on Sullivan-Kreiss, “Nearly all of my agency’s new shoppers come from referrals from present shoppers.”
Spending Extra Time with Purchasers
As you’ll be able to see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is instantly tied to her spending as a lot time as attainable with shoppers. Notably, like a lot of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in consumer conferences than different business advisors. That’s based on a 2020–2021 research carried out by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 % extra time in consumer conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and unbiased corporations.
In reality, based mostly on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Apply Administration group decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, based mostly on gross income, development price, and period of time spent with shoppers. This statistic speaks to the vital work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and time out with the people she serves.
Reaching Scale and Effectivity
So, how is Sullivan-Kreiss in a position to spend a lot time with shoppers? There are inherent difficulties in scaling a concierge mannequin. Nonetheless, as she labored via fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss discovered that having the fitting workers and agency associate may also help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The facility of your individuals. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will be able to give attention to client-facing work. With three full-time workers members (a director of consumer relations, a monetary analyst, and an operations supervisor), she is obvious on their significance to her enterprise mannequin: “My group is phenomenal. What they do behind the scenes permits me to be good at my job and spend as a lot time as I can with my shoppers. Their strengths enable the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level assist—the personalized effect we dedicate to every consumer.”
In accordance with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular development has been pushed by her group’s steadiness of competencies. And that development has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place extra workers is critical. To deal with the quantity of labor and preserve her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and a further advisor to the group.
When requested about recommendation for advisors seeking to develop, she states, “Some of the productive issues you are able to do is empower your individuals and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the fitting individuals on workers, significantly those that have complementary abilities units to yours.”
The affect of your agency associate. Sullivan-Kreiss remembers her agency’s early years flying by in a blur, however she has at all times acknowledged the significance of a supportive agency associate. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . you need to domesticate the fitting relationships with the fitting individuals. You might want to have a associate behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different unbiased advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss appears to her agency associate for a wide selection of back-office sources and assist. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, comparable to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning group, available to speak via a fancy planning or retirement drawback.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this function is an ongoing problem for any unbiased agency. She prefers customized portfolio administration and, with the help of her monetary analyst, does an excessive amount of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a consumer is on the lookout for a particular funding technique, she needs to have the ability to depend on her agency associate for specialised data. She receives that assist from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis group.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency associate should be capable of present a “phenomenal stage of assist” that’s tailor-made to your wants.
Cementing the Cornerstones of Success
Being an unbiased advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to fully align her agency along with her values and shoppers’ greatest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s at all times dreamed
of, one based mostly on placing her shoppers’ wants first and powered by environment friendly time administration. Proper now, she’s targeted on the fun of the current and accelerating much more development sooner or later. Something is feasible along with her imaginative and prescient, a powerful group, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
In case you’re an advisor desirous to go unbiased, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you’ll be able to. As for contemplating a agency associate, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however definitely not least, at all times needless to say you wish to go the place you’ll be able to develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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