Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her impartial 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 go away large 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 duty to purchasers.
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 absolutely quite simple: to place our purchasers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the distinctiveness that every consumer brings to our apply.”
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 purchasers. It additionally highlights her extremely environment friendly use of time. To offer the customized concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has change into a grasp of time administration. She has realized how one can function effectively and collect the required sources to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
For those who’re trying to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the ability of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise selections 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 individual you serve. With a view to develop a top quality apply, it’s important to make every consumer really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, however it’s necessary 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 offer assist, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout tough occasions.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary purchasers 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 involved in “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common evaluations to maintain abreast of adjustments in purchasers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when growing a plan for a brand new consumer.
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 current purchasers.”
Spending Extra Time with Purchasers
As you may see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is straight tied to her spending as a lot time as doable with purchasers. Notably, like a lot of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in consumer conferences than different business advisors. That’s in line with a 2020–2021 examine performed 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 impartial corporations.
The truth is, based mostly on additional evaluation of the information, Commonwealth’s Observe Administration staff decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, based mostly on gross income, development charge, and period of time spent with purchasers. This statistic speaks to the necessary work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and time out with the people she serves.
Attaining 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 fitting workers and agency associate may 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 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 staff 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 assist—the personalized effect we commit to each consumer.”
In line with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular development has been pushed by her staff’s steadiness of competencies. And that development has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place further workers is important. To deal with the quantity of labor and hold her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and a further advisor to the staff.
When requested about recommendation for advisors trying to develop, she states, “Some of the productive issues you are able to do is empower your folks and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the fitting folks on workers, notably those that have complementary abilities units to yours.”
The impression 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 . . . it’s important to domesticate the fitting relationships with the fitting folks. You must have a associate behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss appears to be like to her agency associate for a big selection of back-office sources and assist. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, akin to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning staff, 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 an excessive amount of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a consumer is in search of a selected 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 staff.
Finally, 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 impartial advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to fully align her agency along with her values and purchasers’ finest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s at all times 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 fun of the current and accelerating much more development sooner or later. Something is feasible along with her imaginative and prescient, a robust staff, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
For those who’re an advisor desirous to go impartial, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you may. As for contemplating a agency associate, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however actually not least, at all times understand that you need to go the place you may develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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