By Drew Horter of Horter Investment Management
Running a small business is a challenge, especially when your business is centered around client service and financial advice. But success can be had though combination of smart planning, staffing, recruiting and training, but also through maintaining a strong understanding of the competition and differentiating yourself.
(Photo courtesy of Drew Horter)
I have been a financial advisor for more than 30 years. My firm, Horter Investment Management (HIM), was founded back in 1991. In 2008, during one of the worst times in the financial services business, I formed a new business model focused on coaching, mentoring and teaching other advisors how to run a successful advisory practice. Since that time, HIM has grown to more than 300 employees around the country and over $1 billion in assets under management. During this time many other new businesses went under or were bought by larger companies, yet HIM is expanding. The key has been differentiation.
Having the right expectations matters as well. More than half of all small businesses fail in the first year, according to the Small Business Administration, and 95% close within the first five years. This is primarily due to mismatched expectations and poor planning. During the gestation period, when a business lacks operational efficiency, expenses are often double what is expected. If these entrepreneurs anticipated a worst-case scenario and planned accordingly, failure rates would be much lower. It’s not what can go right, but what can go wrong that counts.
Many of the financial advisors we bring on to our platform come from much larger brokerage firms or field marketing organizations. These giant firms with hundreds of thousands of employees often hire large groups of prospective advisers with the expectation of single-digit success rates. At HIM, our success rate is the result of a program specifically designed to lend the kind of support our advisers were not receiving at these larger firms.
Our selling process lays out a step-by-step process for each sales meeting and emphasizes investor education above all else. This has long been an attraction to advisors looking to leave larger firms. As we have grown, though, there has been even more emphasis on training and support.
Over the past year, we created a weekly newsletter to keep advisors apprised of what investments were being made though our tactical portfolios. We also created a bi-weekly education session on the markets and added bi-weekly training sessions called “Freshen Up Fridays” aimed at helping our advisors stay at the top of their game. This is further supplemented with our live trainings in Cincinnati, Southern California, and Las Vegas, and more individualized training where needed. We spend more right now on recruiting, advising and teaching advisors than we ever did. We have an extensive online library of training videos as well.
But developing personnel, from hiring to training to retention, is only one piece of the puzzle. For any business to succeed, it must empower employees, or in this case advisors, to bring in new business and also retain current clients. HIM’s teams of third party investment managers have devised a series of tactical strategies that aim to mitigate investment risk and generate positive returns regardless of the gyrations in the overall market. This is very different from advisors who follow the market up and down on a daily basis.
Investing into the business has not been cheap, but it has made many financial advisors more successful than they ever could have hoped while also helping thousands of people live more comfortable retirements – a win-win.
Running an advisory firm has challenges unique to the financial services industry, but the day to day is no different than any other small business. Whatever your niche is, you have to find a unique way to the market and have a solid marketing plan to keep your name top of mind among potential clients.
You also never know what curveballs will be thrown at you, but you can be ready to hit the high fastballs out of the park.
Drew Horter, founder of Horter Investment Management, a Cincinnati-based RIA with over $1 billion in assets under management, is a Certified Financial Planner with decades of experience helping people around the country to plan for their retirement.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.