Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her impartial advisory agency, SullivanKreiss Financial, in 2004. Having spent the earlier 13 years as an advisor on workers 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 at all times based mostly my enterprise on the basic 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 drive of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined by means of. The profitable progress 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 personalised concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has turn out to be a grasp of time administration. She has realized how one can function effectively and collect the mandatory sources to maintain progress and construct economies of scale.
In case you’re seeking to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the facility of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise selections may assist you chart the best way towards optimizing your time and setting your agency up for long-term progress.
Constructing One thing Particular
For Sullivan-Kreiss, constructing consumer relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every individual you serve. With the intention to develop a top quality apply, you must 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 purchasers by means of 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 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 fascinated about “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common opinions to maintain abreast of adjustments in purchasers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when creating a plan for a brand new consumer.
The consequence? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged group 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 Shoppers
As you’ll be able to see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is immediately tied to her spending as a lot time as attainable with purchasers. Notably, like lots 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 study 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 impartial corporations.
In truth, based mostly 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, based mostly on gross income, progress charge, 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 by means of fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss realized that having the correct workers and agency accomplice can assist facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The facility of your individuals. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will 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 allows 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 dedicate to each consumer.”
In response to Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular progress has been pushed by her crew’s stability of competencies. And that progress has introduced the agency to an inflection point, the place further workers is critical. To deal with the quantity 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 seeking to develop, she states, “One of the vital productive issues you are able to do is empower your individuals and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the correct individuals on workers, significantly those that have complementary expertise 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 . . . you must domesticate the correct relationships with the correct individuals. You could have a accomplice behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss seems 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, equivalent to Commonwealth’s Advanced Planning team, available to speak by means of a fancy 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 particular funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency accomplice for specialised data. She receives that assist from Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research crew.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency accomplice 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 together with her values and purchasers’ greatest 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 thrill of the current and accelerating much more progress sooner or later. Something is feasible together with her imaginative and prescient, a powerful crew, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
In case you’re an advisor desirous to go impartial, 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 actually not least, at all times understand that you wish to go the place you’ll be able to develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
The Impression Your Agency Companion Can Have on Effectivity
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