23 MIN PODCAST
What does it take to build a top team? Capital Group’s Michael Schweitzer, a former financial advisor with decades of experience in the industry, believes it’s all about thinking like an enterprise. “The best teams in the industry have figured out how to operate as an enterprise by building systems in that allow them to operate much like some of America's most successful corporations today,” he says.
In this episode, you will hear Schweitzer detail the 10 things he thinks top teams should focus on to build an enterprise around their business and create lasting value. Much of this work involves process, but it takes the right mindset, too. “You have to believe in the opportunity for growth, and you have to commit to it,” Schweitzer says.
- Know who your optimal client is, and stay true to that. Where's the targeted sweet spot for you and your team? Is there a particular source of wealth that your clients have in common, or other nuances in terms of personas? “I've found over the years that advisors tend to have more success when they focus on one or two of those personas as a matter of how they structure their business acquisition efforts,” Schweitzer says.
- Have a clear and articulated value proposition. “I know this sounds like table stakes. We all learned it the first few weeks that we had our licenses. But it's remarkable to me how often people just kind of put that aside once they get into the business day to day,” Schweitzer says. Top teams are able to tell clients what they do, who they do it for, why they do it and how. “They essentially position themselves so that every opportunity that comes in front of them is one for them to lose, not one for them to win.”
- Know your strengths and weaknesses, both individually and as a team. “The intersection of something that you're really good at and that you're passionate about is genius,” Schweitzer says. Think about where yours meet, and once you’ve determined that, figure out which skills and abilities you need to hire in order to round out the team. “You need those complementary skill sets to round out your team and create true enterprise capabilities.”
- Standardize your operation and measure progress against stated objectives. Schweitzer admits this step may require the most legwork, because it involves detailed, process-driven thinking around things like client acquisition, onboarding, wealth planning and offboarding, as well as internal processes around hiring, meetings and back-office services.
- Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities on the team and train to meet them. “Every firm will provide you with a job description for your client sales associates and for some of your junior people, but that's a standard piece. What is the application of their responsibilities within your team? What's your expectation? How are you going to measure them? How are you going to grade success?” Schweitzer asks. You can't expect to have a high-performing team if they are unclear on how they get evaluated or compensated. Those things, he says, must be well communicated with people on your staff.
- Inspect what you expect. It’s an old management axiom, but one that Schweitzer believes applies across the board when building a culture of continuous improvement and accountability: What gets measured, gets managed. “So often we pay attention to the top line. We don't pay attention to all the other elements that are underlying the health of the business,” he says. “Where are we relative to what our goal was at different points throughout the year? How are our people developing?” The best teams in the industry watch all these things, because they recognize that without a flawless execution of the client service model, they're at risk of another team coming in and disintermediating that client from them.
- Get out of the business of managing money. “The best teams in the industry have gotten out of the business of managing money,” Schweitzer says. “That doesn’t mean they don’t manage investments, but they recognize that their true value to clients is not in making daily calls on how to deploy assets in the market. It's about how they organize the entirety of the client's life situation.” The best teams have figured out that there are some tremendous professionals out there to help them manage those assets, and have adopted a portfolio model approach.
- Focus on generating outcomes. Schweitzer says this is all about understanding how value is created versus where time is spent. Unlike those who are busy all day long but are not productive, the best teams are focused on outcomes, he says. “How are we doing relative to our goals for client growth? Did we achieve that? What do we need to do differently to ensure that we meet those goals going forward?”
“They also align clients to that mindset, too,” he says. For example, help clients think about progress toward goals versus progress toward a benchmark. “That's the most important thing: Will the client achieve their stated goals, in the risk profile that they've stated they're willing to accept, and the timeline that they want to achieve it?”
- Create career paths for you and your people. We're stronger together than we are individually. How do you put your team on a career journey and give them the incentives to participate or generate success from the work that they do within your team? “You want to bring people along, and you want to celebrate success along the way. And get people invested in your vision and in the future that you have for the business,” Schweitzer says.
- Never stop learning. Successful teams seek out opportunities to learn and share with each other, Schweitzer says, and they incorporate those learnings into their business routines. This can help get the entire team committed to this continuous improvement discipline.
“Other people come in, and they start sharing things that they've learned. And you get an incredible information loop that helps rise the tide for everyone, lift all the boats on the team and create better success for everyone,” he says.