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 depart 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 powerful tradition of fiduciary accountability 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 de facto quite simple: to place our purchasers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the individuality that every shopper brings to our apply.”
Throughout our conversations, the power of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined by. The profitable progress 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 turn out to be a grasp of time administration. She has realized the best way to function effectively and collect the required assets to maintain progress and construct economies of scale.
When you’re trying to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the ability of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise decisions may assist you chart the way in which towards optimizing your time and setting your agency up for long-term progress.
Constructing One thing Particular
For Sullivan-Kreiss, constructing shopper relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every particular person you serve. In an effort to develop a top quality apply, you need to make every shopper really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, however it’s vital to maintain prime of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for purchasers by 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 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 fascinated about “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of adjustments 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 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 response to Sullivan-Kreiss, “Nearly all of my agency’s new purchasers come from referrals from present purchasers.”
Spending Extra Time with Shoppers
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 lots of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in shopper conferences than different business advisors. That’s in response to a 2020–2021 examine performed by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 % extra time in shopper conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and impartial companies.
In actual fact, based mostly on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Observe Administration staff decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the prime decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, based mostly on gross income, progress price, and period of time spent with purchasers. This statistic speaks to the vital work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and time out 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 fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss realized that having the suitable employees and agency accomplice will 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 concentrate on 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 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 enable the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level help—the personal touch we dedicate to every shopper.”
In accordance with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular progress has been pushed by her staff’s steadiness of competencies. And that progress has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place further employees is important. To deal with the quantity of labor and maintain 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 individuals and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the suitable individuals on employees, notably those that have complementary abilities 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 need to domesticate the suitable relationships with the suitable individuals. It’s good to 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 assets and help. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, similar to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning staff, available to speak by 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 shopper is searching for a selected funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency accomplice for specialised data. She receives that help from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis staff.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency accomplice should be capable 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 fully align her agency together 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 targeted 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 staff, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
When 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, at all times understand that you need to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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