Even as an independent financial professional—someone who listens to others and guides them toward fruitful outcomes—can use a sounding board. That’s where having an advisory council can come in handy.
An advisory council is a group of trusted clients you can work with to solicit feedback, try out new ideas, preview service or policy changes, and generally get a sense about what those you serve are thinking and feeling about working with you. These individuals can help you incorporate a different perspective into your services and understand what’s most important to them. Having an advisory council demonstrates to current and prospective clients that they come first in your independent financial practice and client satisfaction is paramount.
How to Set Up an Advisory Council
Decide on the purpose and general structure: What do you want your council to focus on? Will they help to shape your client experience model? Preview fee or policy changes? A little bit of everything? To get started, select some general parameters and determine what you want both sides to get out of the relationship. Other factors to consider are council size, meeting frequency, and potential turnover (if you have yearly terms or someone serves in perpetuity). You’ll finalize these guidelines later but having a loose structure now can help keep you focused on selecting the right candidates.
Look at your list of A clients: Your A clients, or whatever you call your top tier individuals, are a great place to start looking for advisory council members. They are individuals you value and trust, and who may also find the opportunity to participate in this group to be an exclusive benefit. Identify your top council candidates as well as several backup members, based on the size guidelines you set previously.
Create a special invitation: This is an exciting opportunity for clients, but it’s also a big ask. Invite them to participate in a way that makes them feel special and valued. You could design a fancy printed invitation, send them a small gift, or hold an exclusive event. The invitation should reflect your client service model, personality, and overall appreciation.
Finalize guidelines: At your first advisory council meeting, go over the general overview you created and (for the first time) get your group’s feedback. How do they see the council evolving over time? What else do they want their role to include? Have an open discussion, then take their feedback and finalize the overall rules. Your council members will see from the outset that you’re open to collaboration and know that you take their input seriously, hopefully leading to many more productive conversations in the future.
Show appreciation: Your advisory council members are going above and beyond for your practice—make sure to thank them! Look to your existing client service model and find ways you can go beyond the A level service they’re already receiving. Give them a distinctive keepsake, have a special end-of-year party just for council members and their family, or even take a small trip. Let them know regularly how much you value their input and continued partnership.
Do you have an advisory council for your independent financial practice?
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About Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group. Summit Brokerage provides a broad range of securities brokerage and investment services to primarily individual investors. Summit Brokerage also sells insurance products, predominantly fixed and variable annuities and life insurance through its subsidiary, SBS Insurance Agency of Florida. Summit Brokerage also provides asset management services through its investment advisor, Summit Financial Group, Inc.
About Cetera Financial Group
Cetera Financial Group (Cetera®) is a leading network of independent firms empowering the delivery of professional financial advice to individuals, families and company retirement plans across the country through trusted financial advisors and financial institutions. Cetera is the second-largest independent financial advisor network in the nation by number of advisors, as well as a leading service provider to the investment programs of banks and credit unions.
Through its multiple distinct firms, Cetera offers independent and institutions-based advisors the benefits of a large, established broker-dealer and registered investment adviser, while serving advisors and institutions in a way that is customized to their needs and aspirations. Advisor support resources offered through Cetera include award-winning wealth management and advisory platforms, comprehensive broker-dealer and registered investment adviser services, practice management support and innovative technology. For more information, visit cetera.com.
“Cetera Financial Group” refers to the network of independent firms encompassing, among others, Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Investment Services (marketed as Cetera Financial Institutions), Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied Securities and Summit Brokerage Services. All firms are members FINRA/SIPC.
All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy.
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