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
19906 Hamilton CT NE A
Poulsbo, WA 98370

Article Banks Are Internet Marketing Gold

At the start of internet marketing, this marketing strategy used to be called “article marketing.”   Today it’s called, “content marketing”.  Same thing, for the same reasons.

What are article banks?

Article banks are two-way websites where authors “deposit” articles to invest and where lenders “take” the article to use. The “interest” someone pay for using an article consists of a bio or resource box. Each article bank site includes guidelines for authors and potential publishers. Authors retain first rights – retain ownership – to articles placed on article banks. Some article bank sites publish e-zines that include recently submitted articles, ad swap requests and/or an “articles wanted” area, too. You’ll find many article bank Web sites listed below. If you know of an article bank I’ve missed please, that could be of interested to financial advisors, add them to the comments box.

My blog,  is an article bank because I give people the option to ask me for permission to use an article in their newsletter or on their blog.


For Authors
Are you a new writer? Gifted writer? A business owner who enjoys writing can find article marketing to be an excellent way to market services or products with little capital outlay. Any article posted to an article bank includes copyright year, the name of an author, short author bio (sometimes called a resource box), and a link to the author’s Web site at the end of each article. Some article bank sites or publishers may also request the authors’ picture and/or logo, too.

A few words of caution for authors.

  • Never give blanket permission to anyone to use your articles. Not an article bank, Web site or author. Instead, set boundaries and your articles will appear in places you’d enjoy visiting. When someone requests to use your article, check their Web site or request a copy of their e-zine. If you don’t like the Web site, the product or whatever – remember to say “no”!
  • If you don’t always catch your own writing mistakes consider hiring a Virtual Assistant,  Copywriter, person to assist you with proofreading, submitting articles, or keeping track of places, your article appears.
  • Place your articles on your Web site as a way for your potential clients or publishers to get to know you a better. If you provide your articles for free, make sure that your bio includes a link to your Web site or e-zine information. Also, include an easy way for anyone to request permission to use your article as text or to copy the code directly from your Web site (if you allow that).
  • If someone wants to use your article and they’ll receive compensation, you deserve compensation, too. Money, an ad’s in newsletters, paid membership, yearly subscription, a copy of an e-book for you to use and send your clients, these are all ways for you to be paid. If the way someone suggests you’ll be paid, doesn’t agree with you, well, here is another place you can say “no”.


For Publishers
Articles banks are an excellent resource for you if you don’t enjoy writing or are looking for some extra content for your e-zine, magazine, website, e-book, etc. With the permission of an article’s author and sometimes the article bank owners themselves, you will be provided with the free content. In return, the author will provide you with copyright information, a brief bio, and link to their Web site.

In the early 2000’s, there were nearly 200 article banks.   When you visit article banks, look for the other services that the site owner provides for you as a publisher and utilize the other helpful services, too. If you find yourself using an article bank over and over again, consider providing a link from your site to their site – maybe on a “recommended links” page. It’s an excellent way to thank the site owner for providing such a valuable resource.


Article Banks

Of the nearly 200 article banks I used in the early 2000’s, few continue to exist.  For transparency,  I am a member of the sites below and post my articles on their “banks”:

  •   Every conceivable topic.
  •  Insurance and advisor articles.   Do not expect that these articles are FINRA approved.  Many practice management articles.
  •  LinkedIn
  • Self-help and growth articles.
  • If you are using a newsletter creation service, that is specific to the financial industry, ask them if their articles are FINRA approved and use what’s been already written.
  • Many blogs, including this one, accept guest posts.  Check the navigation links on the top of the page for the guidelines.

What article banks do you know about?  Place your answers and suggestions in the comments box below.

© 1999-2004 

Updated 2015.  Maria Marsala, Elevating Your Business.  Business coach and article marketing pioneer.   Learn proven ways to improve your bottom line and gain new clients with our Wall Street expertise and blue-chip strategies.  Signup for our Advisor Success Toolbox at



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

Create A Hot Sheet For Your Speaking Engagements

You’ve probably read an article or two about the 4-8 different learning styles.  If you take a course on the best ways to provide trainings, you’re bound to learn about the importance of considering learning style elements when you plan your seminars, workshops, or speeches.  Important why?  Because you want your audience to retain and take action on the information you’re providing.  Right?

It’s helpful to consider the learning styles of your staff or clients as you create systems and processes for them, too.   But I digress.

A hot sheet is often used as an internet marketing tool.  I think it’s an extremely important element for financial advisors to include in your marketing toolbox, too.


Why Use Hot Sheets?

Have you noticed that advisors take a lot of written notes at conferences?  They’re not the only people taking notes, of course.  But many in the industry, including me, take notes of various lengths.  Some people use the notes later and for some, just the process of writing allows us to retain the new knowledge we’ve learned.

A hot sheet is a tool to help advisors do that and more.

When you’re developing your talk, you write notes that contain the talking points or you put the entire talk into writing.

What you could do next is to choose 3-5 of the more important (hot ) areas you’ll be discussing.  Next you take these hot topics and write the concepts in a way that the audience can fill in the blanks.

Example 1:

The three important visions financial advisors must create to grow or improve their firm in a focused way are:





Example 2:

There are _____ steps to creating a vision statement that will bring you more clarity and focus.


As you can see from my examples, I’ve provided two different ways for the audience to fill-in-the-blanks.

Hot sheet topics provide your audience an opportunity to listen to you with more focus as they fill in those blanks.  You may even find members of the audience email you after the event to learn the answers!


How I Design a Hot Sheet

When I create a hot sheet, it consists of 4 pages:

Page 1: Graphic with the title of the event.

Page 2: The hot sheet.  Keep it simple and just one page long.

Page 3:  I put an empty sheet here, for more notes.

Page 4: Information about me, my firm, call to action (CTA) and contact information.


Additional Resources

Learning styles

(c) 2015 Elevating Your Business