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 wished to depart 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 robust tradition of fiduciary duty to shoppers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve at all times based mostly my enterprise on the basic principal of treating others as I want to be handled. My goal is actually quite simple: to place our shoppers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the distinctiveness that every shopper brings to our apply.”
Throughout our conversations, the drive of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined by. The profitable development of her agency may very well be seen as emblematic of the depth with which Sullivan-Kreiss engages with shoppers. It additionally highlights her extremely environment friendly use of time. To supply the customized concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has change into a grasp of time administration. She has realized easy methods to function effectively and collect the mandatory assets to maintain development and construct economies of scale.
In case you’re trying to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the facility of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise decisions may make it easier 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 shopper relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every particular person you serve. With a view to develop a top quality apply, you must make every shopper really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, nevertheless it’s necessary to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for shoppers by on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to supply help, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout tough instances.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary shoppers shouldn’t get voicemail once 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 all for “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common evaluations to maintain abreast of adjustments in shoppers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when growing a plan for a brand new shopper.
The end result? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged neighborhood of long-term shoppers. 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 shoppers come from referrals from current shoppers.”
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 shoppers. Notably, like a lot of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in shopper conferences than different business advisors. That’s in line with a 2020–2021 research carried out by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 p.c extra time in shopper conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and impartial companies.
In truth, based mostly on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Follow Administration staff decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, based mostly on gross income, development fee, and period of time spent with shoppers. This statistic speaks to the necessary 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 shoppers? There are inherent difficulties in scaling a concierge mannequin. Nonetheless, as she labored by fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss realized that having the fitting employees 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 be able to deal with 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 allows me to be good at my job and spend as a lot time as I can with my shoppers. Their strengths enable the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level help—the personal touch we dedicate to each shopper.”
In accordance 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 employees 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 employees, significantly those that have complementary abilities units to yours.”
The influence 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 . . . you must domesticate the fitting relationships with the fitting folks. You could have a associate behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss appears to her agency associate for a big selection of back-office assets and help. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, equivalent to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning staff, available to speak by a posh planning or retirement downside.
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 quite a lot of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a shopper is on the lookout for a particular funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency associate for specialised information. She receives that help from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis staff.
In the end, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency associate 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 utterly align her agency along with her values and shoppers’ 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 shoppers’ wants first and powered by environment friendly time administration. Proper now, she’s centered on the thrill 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.
In case you’re an advisor desirous to go impartial, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you possibly can. As for contemplating a agency associate, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however definitely not least, at all times needless to say you wish to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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