Research magazine’s Advisor Hall of Fame (Summary)

I was reading an article this morning, on  about “Research magazine’s Advisor Hall of Fame, now in its 25th year”
Three advisors have been added to their Hall of Fame. Here’s the article: (there is a link on the page to see the article “in full” and if you’re not a member of the site, you can join for free.
Here’s what I, as someone who helps my clients grow their firms, found interesting to read.
They all have developed niches.  Some around AUM, some around the people they work with (single women).  Over the years, the AUM of their niche has grown.  At least one company is openly picky about who they take on as clients.   That, to me, is the best way to niche.  Know who you can help the most and stick to it!
Their love for the business and the clients they’re working with shines through, even in the printed word.
You can restart a business at any age and be very successful.
Everyone has hurdles to overcome in life. The secret is not letting the hurdles overcome you.
They have adapted to change and social networking.
Some Ways They Market
Weekly or monthly enewsletter
Scheduled luncheon seminars for their clients with guest speakers
Calling clients (phone and Skype)
Sending articles of interest to client’s
Doing things that get the whole family involved with the firm
Teach clients/families about money and finances
One sends cards to clients of paintings he’s created
Age has nothing to do with their prosperity. One advisor started a new firm at age 52!
Give Back
They all have the time to give back to a variety of nonprofits and some get their teams involved in the giving back, too.
They graciously accept recognition.
They have great business advice for you as an advisor.
Good reading for a Monday morning (or afternoon or night)!
Upwards and onwards,
Coach Maria
P.S. Don’t miss these free classes this month (December starts tomorrow, actually). Update your 12-month business vision with my guidance, learn more about the One Page Business Plan for Financial Advisors or preregister for the Count on Success Summit! Learn more about these events and register:
P.P.S. Learn what I”m reading by joining my LinkedIn group for advisors. Not much discussion takes place, but I post articles I feel are of interested to advisors who are growing their firm to be their legacy.
Elevating Your Business
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Poulsbo, WA 98370

FAs: It’s time to shift and get off the pot

recipeforsuccessmountains-nature-sky-sunny13 Key Steps for More Business Growth in 2016

If your game plan for 2016 includes shifting into high gear, you’re in for a big surprise!

Growing is NOT about the next “bling” or even about spending time on social networking sites.

To grow your firm, you need to grow yourself!

To grow your firm, it’s helpful to tweak and refocus your firm’s foundation and make it super- strong.

Want more clients or more referrals from your clients? Not having enough are  symptoms of a weak, inconsistent, and crumbling business foundation that often doesn’t have a niche, ideal client profile, or a plan to guide your activities.

Working too many hours a week? Productivity down? That’s a sign that you aren’t following a strategic plan.


Which shift are you stuck in?

  1. Moving from being a solo advisor to a growing a firm with a first employee.
  2. Lowering the number of hours you work each week to 30!
  3. Hiring your first production staff; be it a service advisor, paraplanner, or whoever.
  4. Moving from advisor to the manager (yes, some advisors realize that they enjoy managing more than advising, and of course, some advisors prefer advising!).
  5. Hiring a manager to run the business.
  6. Dissolving a partnership that doesn’t work for you any longer (or trying to save it).
  7. Putting your contingency/succession plan into action.

If you seek to substantially grow, improve, or evolve your business in 2016, it’s possible, even probable, that you don’t need to add more marketing, products, services, or clients to your firm.  Often strengthen the foundation you already have and marketing less by choosing 3 ways to market consistently works so much better!

What constitutes a strong foundation? What parts of a business are most of the problems and solutions found in?

Recipe for (More) Success

STEP 1: Mindset Shift

Recognize that you have a capacity problem. You’re working too many hours and still things are falling through the cracks. Even if you have a team (employees or outsourcers) you have no time to live life to the fullest. Worse, you’re not treating your clients’ right when you’re rushing through meetings or thinking about other things throughout the day.

Today, make the most important commitment to your firm’s growth and start ceding control to other smart people. To grow your firm, you must change your mindset and BE an advisor-owner. To start, chances are that your business model doesn’t suit your desired lifestyle and needs to, and you’re doing way to much work that needs to be outsourced.

An Activity Audit is the first step to take when delegating is a mandatory step to the advisor-owner mind shift. Manage, and building a solid business foundation, then marketing to attract new clients will be easier. Manage, then market!  Read more about this subject and the Activity Audit:  Advisors: Are you doing too much? Is it time to outsource more?

STEP 2: Assess

Take a snapshot of where your business is right now by honestly rating all areas of your business, including business processes, marketing, services, products, systems for marketing, HR, and the rest. Rate every area of your firm and see what gets a hurrah and which areas need your help in the upcoming year.  If you’d like a copy of the same assessment my clients use, register at

STEP 3: Visioning

A written vision for next year, your succession, and somewhere in between is not necessary — it’s mandatory! At the core of your firm is your vision of where you’re going and the business model you’re using. Is your business model still bringing you the life you originally dreamed it would? Is your current business model working? If not, your model needs fixing. Attend a free business vision workshop.  Register now

STEP 4: Ideal Client Profile

More than your niche, you need very specific language to describe your ideal clients. Create a one-sheet profile with very specific demographics, psychographics, technographics, and geographics. Your ICP is not everyone who breaths and has a checkbook. That type of advisor — a wolf or con artist – gives advisors who prefer a win-win and act with integrity a bad name. Instead, take the time to really “get into their head” and understand everything about your clients. You’ll sound more like the expert and knowledgeable person you are. PLUS you’ll love your clients and spend your time and marketing dollars attracting them. For a video presentation on this topic, register free at


Take a look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities to grow and threats from inside and outside your company. Let’s look at YOUR SWOTs, too.

STEP 6: Strategic Planning

After teaching the 40-50 planning process at a local college, there is only one planning methodology I recommend for advisors. I call it planning on steroids! It’s actually a consolidated plan for all parts of your business – and it prints on one sheet of paper (although it’s an online planning and performance management system). It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox and it’s easy to update, too. It’s concise and helps business owners refocus and get focused on the priorities that will bring growth the quickest way possible. It’s an “all” plan that contains your plans for administration, operations, marketing, sales, human capital, etc. It’s 100% available online and some of the programs I offer that use this methodology come with an online goal and action plan monitoring system, and a year’s worth of “me” too. Attend a complimentary, no-obligation demo of the online planning system we use. Register here

STEP 7: Business Monitoring Systems

By monitor what’s working and what’s not working, you will be able to execute your plan more quickly. Monitoring your efforts is very motivating and it helps you catch mistakes before they become very costly! This includes monitoring your firm’s objectives and action plans daily or at least weekly. Monitor the ways you use your time, blocking out time each day to mail a thank you card, make phone calls, etc. Monitoring forms can be created on paper, using MS Excel, or in an app (application or software, off or online or on your phone). I also have my clients create a Lessons Learned Report to help them now and in the future. The best monitoring systems are those you’ll use! How often? Monitor your goals, strategies, and action plans weekly. Once a year monitors all 12 areas mentioned in this article.

STEP 8: Pricing Sheet

Create a sheet containing your pricing or commission structure. Know what your hourly rate is EVEN if you don’t ever quote it. Know how much profit you’ll make on “x” income from a client. Determine how much acquiring new client costs. All this, of course, is for your internal use only but don’t be afraid to be 100% transparent and let your clients see what will cost them what.

STEP 9: Marketing Funnel

Some of the biggest mistakes advisors make revolve around marketing. Choose 3 ways to consistently market and do it! If you have a marketing person on staff, you can choose 5 ways. Build relationships with prospects and dive deeper into relationships with your clients who you want to turn into raving fans in your tribe. Since you’re monitoring your marketing strategies weekly, you’ll be able to see what is working and what needs some tweaks or complete changes.

STEP 10: Marketing Calendar

Plan a year ahead. Sure things will come up and then you can look at your calendar and see how those things fit, remove something on your calendar or hire someone to help you to fit more on your calendar. Include both in person and online marketing, PR, networking, advertising and other types of marketing that will help you reach larger numbers of your ideal clients.

STEP 11: Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendars help financial advisors to focus on topics that are most important to their ideal clients. Read my article on editorial calendars here

STEP 12: Outsource

You know your strengths and weaknesses. What you don’t do well is a waste of your time to do, don’t waste your time learning how to do it!  It’s also a waste of your time to do tasks you can pay someone else to do for less than it would cost you to do. So if you can do accounting, proofreading, blog posts, and your own social networking, BUT you can pay someone less than $150-$400 an hour (the rate per hour you are earning) – outsource, instead. If hiring an employee scares the s*** out of you, outsource. Everything an advisor might do, someone running a small business can do. Outsourcing is not a dirty word. Top advisors outsource and have great teams of people working for them. Pick the things you really enjoy doing, and outsource the rest.

STEP 13: Systematize

Start with the important processes you do. Create a Project Map, MindMap, Worksheet, Staff Training Manual, or videos to get started. Ask your team members to document their processes, too! Advisors complain that it takes too long to train someone. You’ll cut that training time in half when you have your processes in writing. PLUS I’ve found that new employees have a way of finding even better ways to do tasks when they can follow what’s been put in writing for them to follow.


Go for all you wanted your firm to be. Grab hold of the brass ring. You can have it all!


© 2010, updated 2015. Elevating Your Business. We help advisors connect the dots and build the enjoyable, more profitable business you’ve always dreamed about. Learn more about how you can get a complimentary Strategic Breakthrough Session here.




RIAs: Can you help me… please?


I’d really appreciate your help with this…

I’m working on some new and exciting projects… aimed at helping advisors improve and scale their practices. And I want to make sure that I address what’s most important to you and your business.

So would you please do me a big favor by taking a couple of minutes to answer 3 questions?

Just (anonymously) tell me your single biggest challenge that you’re struggling with in your financial business, it would really help me out.

And more importantly, your response will help me focus my upcoming emails, new video series, and a summit I’m hosting to the topics you specifically want to know about, too. CLICK HERE for my super-quick survey

NOTE: there’s absolutely nothing for sale at that link or as part of this survey. I just really want to know what content I should create in 2016 and what speakers should be at the 2016 Count on Success Summit.

I’m very grateful for your help and as a token of my thanks, there a gift for you to immediately download on the Thank You Page that follows the Submission button.  No email or other contact information is asked for – you can just download an audio where I was interviews on “Marketing Smarter: Niching Your Firm”

Upwards and onwards,
Maria Marsala
Financial Advisors’ Operations Marketing Manager

P.S. The survey is really quick… please let me know how I can serve you better financial advisors in 2016. Click here to go take the survey.

P.P.S. Please invite a colleague to complete the survey too, just share the link to this survey with them. It’s

Are You Paying for Virus Protection Twice?

If you are paying for Internet and you are paying separately for virus protection, you (or your clients) might be paying for virus protection twice.

My clients complete a personal as well as a business budget, which I scrutinize.   My goal, of course, is to find ways they can save money.   Often I find that they’re paying for virus protection and malware.   Cost of which is $30-$160 a year.

While these services are necessary, often paying for them means you’re paying for these services twice.

You see, many ISPs (Internet Service Providers)  include virus protection services with the package of services you already pay for.  For example, I know that Comcast, CenturyNet, and Optimum include either Norton or Mcafee downloads on their websites.

Why pay for it twice?  It’s part of your monthly fee already!


Log into your ISP account and look around for the virus protection.  Download it to your computer and set it up.  If you have a service on your computer already, it should ask you if it can remove it.  Say yes!

Cancel your paid subscription to virus protection.

You can also call your ISP to have them walk you through the system.  In fact, Comcast’s Norton will (with your permission)  take over your computer, download the files, and then get the program up and working on your computer.

(c) 2015 Elevating Your Business


If after reading and taking action on this blog post, you find that you are paying twice… I’d love to know how much you’ll be saving annually.

18 Ways RIAs Can Get Unstuck & Grow

18 Ways RIAs Can Get Unstuck

It’s time to sing a better song

ID-100280859 Planning and taking consistent action toward what you’ve planned often makes the difference between success and failure—growth and stagnation. But many people won’t plan, don’t plan, and create dozens of excuses instead. Right?

You see this in your retail or institutional clients.

I see it in in my advisor clients, too!

Clients who get to the point where they’re ready to sit down and plan change the tune they sing. Something happens in their lives or to someone they love and they decide to kick excuses to the curb and develop a no-excuses mentality.

They stop reliving the negative and move forward. They sing a new song of victory!


18 Notes RIA-CEOs Use To Sing a Better Song

In a nutshell: plan, execute, measure, and adjust when necessary. Below are my “notes” for creating a better song.


1.–Speak the truth, especially about your personal and professional visions.

2.–Be ready for a new level of your destiny.

3.–Be open to new ideas as well as executing ideas differently.

4.–Change your mindset from being an advisor with a practice to being a CEO running a business.

5.–Get rid of the excuses that are holding you back by finding and trying on A, B and C solutions.

6.–Give yourself quality time to learn, read and have fun.

7.–Keep an Activity Audit for 3 months (list of each task/projects of where your time is spent).

8.–Assess your firm, target market, and pricing.

9.–Take an inventory of what you own: equipment, software, furniture, supplies, processes, marketing collateral, equipment, software, furniture, etc.

10.–Define values, culture, business model, mission, and visions.

11.–Create short- and long-term quantitative and qualitative goals (with minimum and optimum acceptable results) that are both reasonable and achievable.

12.–Set priorities with deadlines.

13.–Get your team on the “same page” as you are.

14.–Create a budget.

15.–Take action towards your goals including delegating tasks and holding other people accountable.

16.–Monitor your efforts.

17.–Gather your firm’s processes, workflow sheets, systems, and forms in one place online.

18.–Assess what’s working and what’s not working.


When you get stuck, go back to the first note.

Be determined to kick soul-killing excuses to the curb. Get moving and sing a better song.


(c) 2015 Elevating Your Business. Maria Marsala is the founder of Elevating Your Business, an operations and marketing management firm serving fast-growing Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) building ensembles or enterprises. Let us help you grow your firm more efficiently and effectively. Contact Maria by phone at 360.271.8418 or on the web at