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 massive 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 robust tradition of fiduciary accountability to purchasers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve all the time primarily based my enterprise on the basic principal of treating others as I want to be handled. My goal is de facto 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 all the time shined via. The profitable development of her agency may very well 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 turn into a grasp of time administration. She has realized find out how to function effectively and collect the mandatory sources to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
Should you’re seeking to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the facility of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise selections might assist 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 particular person you serve. To be able to develop a top quality apply, you need to make every consumer really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, nevertheless it’s essential to maintain prime 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 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 concerned with “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of adjustments in purchasers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when growing a plan for a brand new consumer.
The outcome? 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 accordance with Sullivan-Kreiss, “Nearly all 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 straight tied to her spending as a lot time as potential with purchasers. Notably, like a lot of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in consumer conferences than different trade advisors. That’s in accordance with a 2020–2021 examine carried out 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.
In actual fact, primarily based on additional evaluation of the information, Commonwealth’s Apply Administration workforce decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the prime decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, primarily based on gross income, development charge, and period of time spent with purchasers. This statistic speaks to the essential 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 workers and agency accomplice might help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The ability of your individuals. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will be able to give attention to 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 workforce is phenomenal. What they do behind the scenes allows me to be good at my job and spend as a lot time as I can with my purchasers. Their strengths enable the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level assist—the personalized effect we dedicate to every consumer.”
In response to Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular development has been pushed by her workforce’s steadiness of competencies. And that development has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place further workers is critical. 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 workforce.
When requested about recommendation for advisors seeking to develop, she states, “One of the crucial productive issues you are able to do is empower your individuals and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the proper individuals on workers, significantly those that have complementary abilities units to yours.”
The impression of your agency accomplice. 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 accomplice. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . you need to domesticate the proper relationships with the proper individuals. It is advisable to have a accomplice behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss seems to be to her agency accomplice 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, equivalent to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning workforce, available to speak via a fancy planning or retirement drawback.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this position is an ongoing problem for any impartial 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 in search of a selected funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency accomplice for specialised information. She receives that assist from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis workforce.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency accomplice should have the ability to present a “phenomenal degree 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 all the time dreamed
of, one primarily based on placing her purchasers’ 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 workforce, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
Should you’re an advisor eager to go impartial, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you possibly can. 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, all the time remember the fact that you need to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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