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 wished 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 robust tradition of fiduciary accountability to shoppers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve at all times primarily based my enterprise on the basic 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 follow.”
Throughout our conversations, the pressure of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined by means of. The profitable development of her agency could possibly 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 supply the personalised concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has turn into a grasp of time administration. She has discovered find out how to function effectively and collect the required sources to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
If you happen to’re trying to go unbiased or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the facility of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise decisions may enable you to chart the best way 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 individual you serve. In an effort to develop a top quality follow, it’s important to make every consumer really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, however it’s vital to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for shoppers by means of on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to supply assist, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout troublesome instances.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary shoppers shouldn’t get voicemail after they name, and follow-up to requests and considerations have to 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 desirous about “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common opinions to maintain abreast of modifications in shoppers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when creating a plan for a brand new consumer.
The end result? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged group 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 current shoppers.”
Spending Extra Time with Shoppers
As you’ll be able to see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is instantly tied to her spending as a lot time as doable with shoppers. Notably, like a lot of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in consumer conferences than different trade advisors. That’s based on a 2020–2021 examine performed by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 p.c extra time in consumer conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and unbiased corporations.
In reality, primarily based on additional evaluation of the information, Commonwealth’s Apply Administration crew decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, primarily based on gross income, development charge, and period of time spent with shoppers. This statistic speaks to the vital work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and day trip with the people she serves.
Attaining 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 by means of fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss discovered that having the appropriate workers and agency accomplice may help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The ability of your folks. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will be able to concentrate on client-facing work. With three full-time workers members (a director of consumer relations, a monetary analyst, and an operations supervisor), she is evident on their significance to her enterprise mannequin: “My crew 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 permit the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level assist—the personal touch we commit to each consumer.”
In line with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular development has been pushed by her crew’s stability of competencies. And that development has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place extra workers is critical. To deal with the amount of labor and preserve her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and a further advisor to the crew.
When requested about recommendation for advisors trying to develop, she states, “Probably the most productive issues you are able to do is empower your folks and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the appropriate folks on workers, significantly those that have complementary abilities units to yours.”
The influence of your agency accomplice. 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 accomplice. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . it’s important to domesticate the appropriate relationships with the appropriate folks. It’s essential have a accomplice behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different unbiased advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss appears to her agency accomplice 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 crew, available to speak by means of a fancy planning or retirement downside.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this position is an ongoing problem for any unbiased agency. She prefers customized portfolio administration and, with the help of her monetary analyst, does a substantial 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 accomplice for specialised information. She receives that assist from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis crew.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency accomplice should be capable of present a “phenomenal degree of assist” that’s tailor-made to your wants.
Cementing the Cornerstones of Success
Being an unbiased advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to utterly align her agency along with her values and shoppers’ finest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s at all times dreamed
of, one primarily based 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 robust crew, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
If you happen to’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 accomplice, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however definitely not least, at all times understand that you need to go the place you’ll be able to develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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