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10 Steps To Building A Successful Investment Program

A successful investment program requires a comprehensive plan of action and support to achieve the credit union’s defined goals.

Building a successful program requires a comprehensive, proven plan of action and the dedicated support needed to achieve the credit union’s defined goals. Following these 10 steps can help transform your fledgling business into a top producing investment program.

Step 1: Model A $1 Million Producer

Look to a firm’s own leading producers for success strategies. Beyond sharing a strong work ethic and affirmative attitude, following a consistent, well-defined process has helped these representatives push past the million dollar mark. From these best practices, the broker-dealer can create a road map to help other programs achieve growth and increase revenue. For financial institutions looking to take their investment programs to the next level, following in the footsteps of other top-producing representatives might be the most direct way to reach program goals.

Step 2: Build A Strong Team

A proven plan of action is only part of the equation. Having the support and direction of a team who can help you successfully implement the plan is essential. A dedicated team consisting of a relationship manager working on-site with the credit union and an internal, home office sales team can tailor a plan and put it into practice.

Step 3: Set Benchmarks And Pinpoint Gaps

Through close examination of the program’s key performance metrics, the team can establish effectual, strategic benchmarks for your action plan. Comparing results against standards set by top producers, a study can pinpoint critical gaps where a program can improve efficiency, productivity, profitability, and client satisfaction. The relationship team can recommend specific tools and resources available that address the program’s specific needs. This working action plan, reviewed annually, serves as a guide for continuous process improvement. With each best practice realized, the credit union can expect to see tangible results.

Step 4: Focus On Training And Development

The development of a comprehensive training plan helps ensure representatives and assistants have the knowledge and resources needed to grow as the business grows. Extensive training and educational opportunities, accessed in a variety of ways, can help reps address vital gaps and continue their professional development. Educational conferences offer reps mentoring opportunities to learn from and interact with top producers. When advisers can share how they have analyzed, changed, and grown their practices, it assists other reps in transforming their businesses to the benefit of their programs, their clients, and the reps themselves.

Step 5: Consider Outsourcing Solutions

Beyond education and training, time management and client service are critical functions of a brokerage program. Firms offering innovative staffing solutions boost productivity and efficiency. Through outsourcing support staff to the broker-dealer home office, reps can use the services of a virtual sales assistant who is trained and managed by the broker-dealer, saving the program the time and expense of hiring a traditional in-house assistant. The arrangement is transparent to clients, and they receive a high level of service from a fully licensed professional who understands the business.

Step 6: Develop A Detailed Marketing Plan

With strong internal support, a best practice program builds a support base extending outside the branch and into the community. Marketing is vital for creating brand awareness and communicating a credit union’s value proposition. A robust, long-term marketing plan establishes your presence in the community, builds trust with new clients, and ultimately garners new referrals from your existing clients. Internally, a plan presents a clear, consistent message for staff and helps create a cohesive team focused on client service and satisfaction.

Step 7: Invest In A Client Relationship Management Tool

For continued growth, client relationship management is as important to a program as solid industry and product knowledge. With the right tools and strategies, credit unions can establish target markets, screen potential clients, evaluate time and cost factors, and build strong client relationships from the start. This initial focus on relationship management enables a credit union to take advantage of business building opportunities as the program matures.

Step 8: Establish A Client Communication System

Staying in contact with clients through bull and bear markets is critical for retention. Developing and implementing a client communication plan can be time-consuming, costly, and challenging for reps. A predefined system assists reps with segmenting their client base, determining the frequency and timing of communications, and providing a variety of pre-approved marketing items to send at suggested intervals. The most progressive broker-dealers are embracing social media marketing and providing compliance solutions for reps who choose to communicate with clients through this channel.

Step 9: Move To Fee-Based Business

With growth averaging 15% per year, advisory managed assets are the fastest growing sector in the financial services industry. Offering advisory products and services provides a more efficient way to conduct business, a platform to pursue more affluent clients, a value proposition free from sales-based compensation, and a recurring revenue stream ensuring consistent compensation based on the total assets under management.

Step 10: Find Quality Recruits To Expand Your Program

In addition to supporting the organic growth of the investment program, a full-service broker-dealer helps credit unions increase revenues through expansion. To assist you in your recruiting efforts, a team focused on new business development can deliver the support and materials you need to find qualified representatives that are a good fit for your program.

The value-added services of a broker-dealer should support and enhance every aspect of a credit union’s program. These services can potentially elevate investment programs to new levels and provide profitable, compliantgrowth for credit union representatives, clients and members.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
May 27, 2014

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