Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her impartial advisory agency, SullivanKreiss Monetary, in 2004. Having spent the earlier 13 years as an advisor on employees with a publicly traded firm, she needed to go away huge company agendas and proprietary funding merchandise behind. As president of her personal enterprise, Sullivan-Kreiss was desperate to develop a concierge service mannequin constructed round a powerful tradition of fiduciary accountability to purchasers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve all the time based mostly my enterprise on the elemental principal of treating others as I wish to be handled. My goal is basically quite simple: to place our purchasers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the individuality that every shopper brings to our follow.”
Throughout our conversations, the power of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient all the time shined via. The profitable development of her agency could possibly be seen as emblematic of the depth with which Sullivan-Kreiss engages with purchasers. 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 realized how you can function effectively and collect the required sources to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
In the event you’re trying to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the ability of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise selections might make it easier 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 shopper relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every particular person you serve. So as to develop a high quality follow, it’s a must to make every shopper really feel particular. That will sound elementary, nevertheless it’s vital to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for purchasers via on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to supply help, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout tough occasions.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary purchasers shouldn’t get voicemail once 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 focused on “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of modifications in purchasers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when creating a plan for a brand new shopper.
The consequence? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged neighborhood of long-term purchasers. For her, that’s what makes the advisory enterprise rewarding and enjoyable. And there’s icing on the cake: in line with Sullivan-Kreiss, “The vast majority of my agency’s new purchasers come from referrals from present purchasers.”
Spending Extra Time with Purchasers
As you possibly can see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is instantly tied to her spending as a lot time as potential with purchasers. Notably, like lots of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in shopper conferences than different trade advisors. That’s in line with a 2020–2021 examine carried out by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 p.c extra time in shopper conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and impartial companies.
In truth, based mostly on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Observe Administration group decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, based mostly on gross income, development fee, and period of time spent with purchasers. This statistic speaks to the vital work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and day trip with the people she serves.
Reaching Scale and Effectivity
So, how is Sullivan-Kreiss in a position to spend a lot time with purchasers? There are inherent difficulties in scaling a concierge mannequin. Nonetheless, as she labored via fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss realized that having the proper employees and agency companion will help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The ability of your folks. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will deal with client-facing work. With three full-time employees members (a director of shopper 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 purchasers. Their strengths permit the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level help—the personal touch we dedicate to each shopper.”
Based on 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 employees is critical. To deal with the amount of labor and maintain her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and an extra advisor to the group.
When requested about recommendation for advisors trying to develop, she states, “One of the vital productive issues you are able to do is empower your folks and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the proper folks on employees, notably those that have complementary expertise units to yours.”
The affect of your agency companion. Sullivan-Kreiss remembers her agency’s early years flying by in a blur, however she has all the time acknowledged the significance of a supportive agency companion. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . it’s a must to domesticate the proper relationships with the proper folks. That you must have a companion behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss appears to be like to her agency companion for a wide selection of back-office sources and help. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, similar to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning group, available to speak via a posh planning or retirement downside.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this function is an ongoing problem for any impartial agency. She prefers customized portfolio administration and, with the help of her monetary analyst, does quite a lot of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a shopper is in search of a particular funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency companion for specialised information. She receives that help from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis group.
Finally, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency companion should have the ability to present a “phenomenal degree of help” that’s tailor-made to your wants.
Cementing the Cornerstones of Success
Being an impartial advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to utterly align her agency along with her values and purchasers’ finest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s all the time dreamed
of, one based mostly on placing her purchasers’ wants first and powered by environment friendly time administration. Proper now, she’s centered on the thrill 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 the event you’re an advisor desirous to go impartial, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you possibly can. As for contemplating a agency companion, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however actually not least, all the time take into account that you wish to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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