All aspects of building your team.

3 Employer Legal Landmines

[Maria’s Comment: This week a colleague, Devora L. Lindeman, Esq., a Partner at Greenwald Doherty, whom I met through LinkedIn a few years ago, sent me her newsletter and I enjoyed reading her tips and used the template she attached.  This topic is of interest to Financial Advisors, Planners or Managers who have team members or are thinking about it. AND it’s of equal interest to all CEOs, small business owners, and HR professionals, too. Thank you Devora for being my 2nd Blog Guest Author and for providing me with permission to share your tips with my blog subscribers and viewers.  Enjoy this excerpt from Devora’s newsletter!]


3 Employer Legal Landmines

manontiteropeSMID-10075457There are many issues that could have been avoided IF ONLY the employer did a little preparation and/or education.  These issues may cause employers to inadvertently step in legal landmines or walk on a very thin line.


Emergency Contact Forms

The start of the new year is a good time to have every employee update their Emergency Contact Forms.  What are you going to do if an employee stops showing up to work and doesn’t contact you?  You need someone to call.  While it may seem hard to fathom, you may be the only one who knows this person is not accounted for.  They could be sick at home or worse.  Download a copy of the form from EmployeeContactFormDL12-13E-Newsletter


Reference Checking/Criminal Background Checks

When you have a promising candidate, check this person’s references BEFORE you make the candidate an offer of employment.  However, if you want to do a criminal background check, you may need to give the candidate a conditional offer of employment before running the background check.  It is now illegal to ask about criminal convictions on an employment application (so-called “Ban-the-Box” laws) in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and in certain cities including Newark, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Seattle. If you are uncertain of the laws that apply to your jurisdiction, consult with your employment attorney.


Employment Contracts

Although I generally recommend against having an employment contract with employees (usually, an offer letter specifying the terms of employment and an employee handbook with your policies and benefits will suffice), if you are going to utilize an employment contract, be sure that both you and the employee are clear as to the terms of the contract and that you have a document in writing to which you both agree (and which you both sign).  If you make the contract for a specific amount of time, then the employee is no longer at-will which can create multiple headaches for your company.  If you must do a contract for a year or two, be sure the contract has an escape-clause.  Otherwise, even if you have a poor performing employee, if you promised her 1 year of employment and terminate her after 5 months, you are going to be legally obligated to pay her an additional 7 months of compensation — unless the contract specifically says that you do not need to do that.


About Devora

Devora represent companies and management in all aspects of employment and labor. She’s a partner at Greenwald Doherty LLP, located in NY. [Maria’s Comment: Here’s a sample list of what an employment and labor attorney covers and a link directly to their company website.]

Employment lawyers, such as the experienced lawyers at Greenwald Doherty LLP, are ready o help you with all of these and the other crazy laws that apply when you have employees.  Questions? Call Devora in NY at  845-589-9300.

If there is any particular topic you would like to see addressed in Devora’s newsletter or to request a subscription to her newsletter, please contact Devora directly. You can connect with Devora on LinkedIn® at Her email address is dl @ (remove the spaces between all the words)

To request that Devora speak at your next meeting or conference contact her at the phone number or email address above. She’ll be happy to discuss potential topics. You can listen to Blog Talk Radio Show Host Yvonne Brown interviewed Devora here.


©2013 Greenwald Doherty LLP.  All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without permission.  This information is a general summary only, intended to provide general information, and is not meant, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice or counsel regarding specific situations or specific laws.  Consult with counsel for specific guidance regarding your particular situation or regarding the applicability of any law.  This newsletter does not create an attorney-client relationship and may be considered to be attorney advertising.

19 Questions Your Financial Advisory Team Must Be Able to Answer

Knowledge is Power: The 19 Questions Your Financial Advisory Team Must Be Able to Easily Answer About Your Firm

teamworkSMALL12867341_sWhat’s easier to sell: a service you know very little about and have zero regard for, or a service you are excited to share with others because you really think it offers value? The first option describes the used car salesman persona and all the ugly stereotypes that come with it. The latter option is probably how you feel about the financial services you offer (and if it isn’t, it may be time to reconsider how you’re running or not running your business).

That said, you’re sure to agree that an informed and passionate team is your best sales force. How big is your sales force? You can count yourself and associates. Did you forget anyone? Your office manager, virtual assistant, paraplanner, bookkeeper, and other team members are all a vital part of your sales team. Knowing your answers to the 20 questions below will help those on your immediate team better understand your firm, its goals, and its values. But it will also help your janitor, web designer, IT firm, other consultants and your strategic partners understand your firm, too.

Everyone in your sphere should have answers for clients they may interact with and their own personal network of family, friends, and acquaintances (potential prospects). Have these questions ready for new hires and take the time to appropriately equip your “extended” sales team, too. The care you take to educate others and communicate your message, in your words, will inspire the much-coveted-but-never-for-sale holy grail of marketing: Word of Mouth Advertising.

1. What is the legal structure of your financial services business (an entity such as LLC, S or C Corp)?

2. What the strengths of your firm?

3. What credentials do you have?

4. What are the core values of your firm?

5. *What is your vision for the firm 12 months and 5 years from now? (VISION)

6. What services and/or products do you offer?

7. What problem(s) does your firm solve for your clients?

8. How is your firm’s solution to this problem different than what existing or competing businesses offer?

9. Who is your local competition?

10. What made you decide to be a financial advisor?

11. Who is struggling with the problem you solve?

12. *How will your service help your prospects have better lives/businesses? (MISSION)

13. Who are your ideal clients and what is your experience with this market?

14. What are 3 things your ideal clients says, so that others would immediately know to refer you?

15. Based on their preferences and lifestyle, what is the best way for your ideal clients to learn about the services your firm offers?

16. How do you make money?

17. *What ways do you market your firm? (STRATEGIES)

18. *How will you monitor the results of your marketing efforts? (OBJECTIVES)

19. What’s the best way for prospects to contact you?

* Asterisks denote core questions that are answered in depth during our Business Planning on Steroids Program. The parentheses after the core question indicates which section of the One Page Business Plan® that specific question addresses. To get a free overview of this process, view our webinar here.

What Do You Think?

Tell us below what you think of this article. What questions would you add to our list?


©2013 Maria Marsala guides independent financial advisors to reach their 5-year business and personal goals in 24 months. She is a business coach, speaker, and a former Wall Street Trader. Named one of the Top 30 International Coaching Gurus in 2011, Maria has been recognized as a thought leader whose ideas have been published in Financial Planning Magazine, RIA Biz, Advisor Max, Dow Jones, The Street, Entrepreneur Magazine, and numerous books, trade journals, and magazines. She has authored four business-building workbooks including, Attracting Clients You Love Working With: 6 Steps to a Profitable Client Base.

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6 Real Life Delegation Success Stories

#6. 4 Steps to Delegate Effectively

What do you successfully delegate?
Book keeping, marketing, proofreading. I have also, in the past hired a web designer, graphic designer and a personal assistant.

What suggestions, tips or advice you have for other small business owners and entrepreneurs who are struggling to start delegating effectively themselves?
You have to let go to grow whether that’s grow personally or professionally. My clients, who don’t delegate, take a big first risk by hiring me. However, it’s common that in a few months, my fee is being paid by the additional income they’re making. Business development type consultants — coaches, branding specialists, marketing professionals, and web designers are like that!

My clients don’t have employees or contractors yet (I only work with aspiring millionaires or millionaires) hire a bookkeeper or personal assistant first. Most of my clients earn more than $150 per hour (if they were charging by the hour). Once they realize that they can work and make that while they pay someone $20-$50 per hour, they’re more willing to give it a shot. Here is the order I recommend:

1) bookkeeper, babysitter (to work while they’re working) and/or personal assistant (housework or business work.)

2) Things they’re doing, that they hate doing, that they can pay someone who loves doing those things and the payment is less than 1/2 their hourly rate.

3) Things they’re doing that they don’t enjoy doing that they can pay someone who loves doing those things and the payment is less than 1/2 their hourly rate.

4) Pay someone to brand; market, design your website.

Those items are placed in their one-page business strategies under “strategies”. Strategies help business owners, financial advisors, and the like reach their long-term goals.

About Maria
Maria Marsala helps financial, investment, and financial advisors maximize their profits and productivity. A former Wall Street Trader, she climbed the corporate ladder when women were as rare as pink diamonds. Today, with her one-page plan in 1 weekend program, she helps others climb the ladder of professional and personal success. Learn more at

My story and the other 5 appeared on a blog created by Allyson Piper, Marketing Advisor, at Marketing In Bloom.

Read the rest of the story at