Jennifer is an advisor in her 20s. Recently, I asked her: “How much will you be earning ten years from now?” Jennifer quickly responded: “At least, $1,000,000.00.” Given a ten year time frame, most advisors state that they expect to earn in excess of one million dollars. Yet, only a small fraction of advisors achieve that level of income. It seems as if there is something magical about a million dollar revenue stream. So, what does it take to become a millionaire advisor?

Joel Goodhart is a millionaire advisor. He is a partner at BIRE Financial. The three senior partners collectively have 90+ years of experience. The firm has two junior associates and six support staff. To grow their business, the partners utilize innovative marketing, sales and client service initiatives. As a firm, they set out to build relationships of trust with collateral professionals such as accountants and lawyers. Today, a significant number of accounting and legal firms refer clients to them. Last year, those introductions, recommendations and referrals represented 18% of the firm’s revenue. Joel and his partners work hard at creating a positive experience for collateral professionals and their clients. Once a year, they host a Professional Development Day followed by a round of golf. Each November, they hold a Client Appreciation Dinner. Last year, there were over 500 guests. Each of the professional firms with whom they partner, have a table and invite guests. In the previous year, 52 guests attended and 19 became clients. The Client Appreciation Dinner is one of a number of initiatives BIRE implements to deepen the relationship with existing clients. The firm’s commitment to service excellence through their close attention to the client experience leads to close to 60% of their revenue coming from sales to existing clients and introductions clients provide.

Joel did not become a millionaire advisor by accident. We have been working with Joel for many years. First and foremost, Joel and his partners make time to work ON their business, as well as IN it. Millionaire advisors apply a planning process. Joel plans each day. However his daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly activities are dictated by the firm’s one and five year business plans. Investing time to work on the business allows Joel and his whole team to focus on what is really important and contributes to short and long term success. As a result, they are proactive, rather than reactive.

Joel takes time to increase his knowledge and expertise. He is a lifelong learner, committed to his own professional development in financial services.

The second characteristic of the millionaire advisor is that they employ a Marketing Activity Calendar. The purpose of the Marketing Activity Calendar is to integrate Marketing, Sales, and Service. Ideally, service activities become a form of marketing and selling. A good example is The Covenant Group’s Periodic Review Process. We recommend that an advisor segment their client list and identify the most important relationships. The Covenant Group’s Periodic Review Process provides the opportunity to demonstrate service excellence, cross sell additional products and services, and set the stage for obtaining introductions, recommendations and referrals. BIRE’s Marketing Activity Calendar lays out the marketing, sales, and service initiatives in which they will be involved in for the next 12-15 months. The BIRE team establishes personal trust through reliable, responsive and dependable service. Their knowledge and expertise conveys professional trust. However, it is procedural trust that truly differentiates them. Procedural Trust is based upon clearly defined processes and an agreement on everyone’s part to follow these procedures. It leads to a deeper level of engagement with clients and collateral professionals. It makes it easier to explain what they do in a simple and compelling manner and expectations are clearly established. Putting Service Level Agreements in place that foster personal, professional and procedural trust is another example of working ON the business. You must take the time to really think about the experience you want to create for clients.

The third characteristic of millionaire advisors is that they apply leverage. Archimedes said: “Give me a lever long enough and I will move the world.” The mantra for millionaire advisors is: You have to do it yourself, and you can’t do it alone. The BIRE partners apply leverage both inside and outside the firm. They have a capable team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Each of the partners brings strengths that are complementary. Joel is the rainmaker, Dennis Freedman is an educator and Stuart Leibowitz draws upon his many years of practicing law to enhance professional trust. The firm’s strategic relationships with collateral professionals provide a good example of leverage applied outside the firm. The partners work hard at maintaining positive relationships with their supplier companies. They give back to the industry and their community. The first rule of influence is the Law of Reciprocity. You give to get. Joel, Dennis and Stuart understand the importance of generosity of spirit.

Millionaire advisors do the following:

  1. They utilize a planning process.
  2. They implement a Marketing Activity Calendar
  3. They apply leverage.

Just as important, is the motivation to become as much as you can be. It is meaning, not money that drives people to the pinnacle of success in our industry.