Leading the Way to an Integrated Investment Program
by Deborah Bernot & Patti Branco
As the Captain Guides the Ship, the Leader Sets the Tone for the Future.
The rank and file is the foundation of your institution. Like hungry birds in a nest, they await every morsel. The rank and file-far removed from the boardroom and strategic decision making, seek morsels of information about what is important and what is not, and they respond accordingly.
With the nod of the head or a rolling of the eyes the chief executive officer can convey whether or not investments or any other initiatives are important to the whole picture. With a public thank you or a pat on the back for an accomplishment-the CEO sends the message that THAT was an important victory.
On the other hand, a wholehearted endorsement can send an investment program into high gear. We have witnessed an amazing and rapid turnaround to a struggling program when a new senior manager authenticated a program and gave it its place in the product and services line up.
Offering investments to customers has always presented a dilemma, stirred by fears of disintermediation and increasingly strict compliance. The alternative, however is to send your business to the competition down the street. With over 55% of the American public in some sort of investment it has become a core product in main street America.
How then, can the leader of the financial institution send a positive message that investments, in spite of the unique characteristics and potential for risk, are a valuable part of the revenue stream and product menu?
1. Public Recognition
- Recognize (branch manager and referrers) participants publicly.
- Include investment referral results in you normal reporting process
- Once a week contact the most productive branch manager and say thank you for supporting the investment program
- At any meeting where results are broadcast be sure to include the results of the investment program, referrals, revenue and top branch contributions
- Be willing to author a letter to customers announcing the availability of a full service investment program
2. Job Descriptions
- Engage your human resources department make sure they include investment knowledge, experience and licensing in their job descriptions and to flag ones who have suitable investment program experience as top candidates
- Make referring part of the job description across the board, and not optional. While you’re at it aim for a sales culture the helps cross sell all products and services, affording deeper relationships
- Have annual reviews note ‘acceptance and support’ of investment programs, and include in scoring process
- Make investment revenue part of your annual budget/goal.
- Count on revenue in, and allot money out for marketing
- Make the budget public and show investments as a core product
- Allow dollars for marketing and other necessities
4. Combine Departments
- The most successful financial institutions have all departments operating together as a team
- Intertwine all departments, marketing, HR, budgets, compliance and technology
- Let all members of the various teams know what the other team is doing and why
- Have monthly or more frequent meetings in person or via telephone conference
- Plan joint strategic planning meetings on a regular basis
- Make sure your customer relationship tracking and your technology platform is set up to include investments
At a recent business planning meeting we attended as consultants, a struggling institution pointed out another similar institution that was doing five times better. Same third party program provider, close in size, reps stayed, revenues climbed, sales cultures were forming, and surprise, surprise…deposits were up as well. The struggling institution was barely ion the map with investments.
After several minutes of comparative dialog-the question was…why aren’t we doing as well?
We gave the answer “because the investment program is not optional”
Don’t send your business down the street. You caught on to loans, credit cards and other products and services through the ever changing marketplace.
Super busy lives, one-stop shopping and customer conveniences have replaced customer loyalty. Becoming the answer to all their financial services needs will strengthen, deepen and retain existing relationships as well as attract new ones effortlessly.
Your opportunity to be a full service provider is only a mindset away, and it starts at the very top!
Deborah Bernot is former President of Cal Fed Investments, who successfully managed an investment and insurance program of over 1,200 licensed representatives. Patti Branco has a 20 year track record of sales and program management. Deborah and Patti have joined forces to create EX Consultants, an association designed to provide banks and credit unions with the benefit of their combined experience.
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