One of the primary objectives for most financial institution investment programs is to grow their revenue. Whether the program is starting up or starting over, achieving meaningful revenue growth is the definition of success. In pursuit of program success, consider these six key steps in your program management plan. See the sidebar for examples from real programs.
- Incorporate premium technology. The right technology tools can increase efficiency, credibility, and ease of service delivery to your clients. Look for a web-based account management system that streamlinesadministration, communications, sales, order entry and review, and reporting functionsand that has the capability to add different tools that can each improve different segments of your program.
Examples of useful add-ontechnology modules include a home banking integration tool with single sign-on capability; a performance and wealth reporting tool for advisors to get a more complete view of their clients' holdings; an analysis tool to assess a client's financial situation;and anelectronic trading platformfor customers to place their own stock, option and mutual fund transactions. There are many options out there, and it is important to look for ones that fully integrate with your main account management system to create efficiency.Add on modules that require separate logins and do not share data with your account management system just create more work for your team. A fully integrated system allows program managers and representatives access to all technology modules from a streamlined, single access point. An integrated system consolidates the data from multiplemodules into a single database, providing powerfully efficient reporting and visibility. A holistic view of all activity and efficient reporting is imperative for program success,so start with a good foundational system, then fullyintegrate the modules that suit your program best.
- Use efficient business processing. The investment business requires daily processing, but it doesn’t have to be tedious. Use your integrated technology systems to achieve full visibility. Paperless, web-based systems give managers a complete view of all activitiesso they can quickly address issues as needed.Also, ensure your program has access to operations staff on the broker dealer side that can assist in customizing forms to automatically populate for your specific processing requirements to keep the system as efficient as possible.
- Go beyond simple branch referrals.Make sure your reps are trained to work their book of business and provide a deeper consultative approach for their clients. Ask your broker dealer if they offer advisor training on how to institute finely tuned awareness campaigns to build their business. After training, your busy advisors also need resources that make it easy to move fast. Ask for“turnkey systems” that include easily targeted marketing campaigns tailored for your audience.With fewer clients coming into branches, it is also important to provide materials your reps can use to market beyond the branch. Pre-approved and ready-to-use marketing resources such as webinars, workshops, and web-based educational materials are great choices that your advisors can customize and use quickly.
- Use development tools meant for financial institutions.Some broker dealers only provide support and tools for advisors or independents, effectively serving several masters. This is not helpful for the institution, and in some cases can be harmful. A financial institution should work with partners that fully understand and are completely focused on the goals and pain points unique to the financial institution channel, without channel conflicts. Look for robust development tools at the program level– best practices, tips, training, marketing materials, etc. – that aredesigned to help programs achieve their goals.
- Hire experienced managers and provide the resources they need. When it comes to your investment program, the program manager is the captain of the ship. A manager with professional experience running an investment program is the fastest way to reach success.But it is equally important to enact a business plan that ensures they have ample resources and time to dedicate to the advisors and program.It may make sense to set up a “managed program” structure, wherein yourbroker dealer employs and manages your program manager and investment advisors. This may be the most economical choice to get the professional expertise necessary to grow the program. If a managed program is not the right fit, work to find a customized, hybrid management structure that is tailored for your program and ensures your team is fully supported and prepared to succeed.
- Build a profitable model for everyone. To be truly successful, an investment program must be profitable for five key constituents: the financial institution, the program manager, the advisorthe broker dealer, and the client. It must be balanced and competitive for all players. And there must be full transparency of the model so all involved are able to understand the business model. For example, check for transparency in the cost for sales assistants – who picks up the costs and when? Transparency empowers your team and helps everyone be more profitable.
These six steps provide just a brief overview of the key elements necessary to achieve revenue growth. Every investment program is different, so it’s important to work with your broker dealer partner to formulate a customized planthat complementsyourfinancial institution’s unique situation. Using these steps as a guide, assess your program for areas of possible improvement, find a partner that provides these tools and has theflexibility to work with you to grow programrevenue.
By Kevin Mummau,
EVP, Program Development,
CFS and SPF