As 2022 draws to a close, we pause to reflect on the past year we’ve had here at PFI Advisors.  While 2020 and 2021 saw firms trying to develop a “new normal,” this year saw them finally embrace it. Regardless of location, firms continued to serve their clients, develop their teams, and even attend in-person conferences with industry peers. As for us at PFI Advisors, we’ve enjoyed working from home but had the pleasure of working with clients in person this year as well!

Our one-year-old COO Society has continued to thrive, as we’ve hosted virtual discussions each month with our members to cover industry news, operational best practices, and future goals. We also conducted amazing outside interviews with the likes of Mark Tibergien, Michael Kitces, industry consultants, and various representatives from the leading technology solution providers.

Our podcast, The COO Roundtable, continued to grow in listenership as we welcomed various operations professionals to discuss the strategies they incorporate to successfully tackle their day-to-day responsibilities and further spur growth within their organizations. 

And in November, it was announced that Matt won a ThinkAdvisor Luminaries award for Thought Leadership thanks to his many years of contributions to the industry.

Additionally, Layla Paige and Friends’ Fourth Annual Nature Walk for TrinityKids Care took place in person in October, and this year’s event raised over $150,000.  Host Jack Black was able to join us again this year and it was wonderful to witness the sea of gold shirts walk for an important cause. It means the world to us that we continue to gather support and honor Layla’s memory this way.

Throughout 2022, we published 44 blog posts detailing best practices for RIAs.  

2022 brought about a laser focus on operational efficiencies and bottom-line profitability for RIAs, which in turn saw our services in high demand.  We are currently working with more COO Resource clients than ever before and our M&A Support Services were also one of our most in-demand service offerings.  We continue to help wirehouse and IBD advisors attain financial independence as they look to establish their own RIAs. 

We are committed to maintaining our thought leadership in 2023, with our goal of educating readers and provoking operational thinking for growth-minded RIAs.  We hope you enjoy the following articles which proved to be our most popular of the year, and we wish you and your families a happy, healthy, and safe new year!

Career Advice from Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider

Matt’s love of 80’s hair metal bands knows no bounds, so when he ran into a tweet from Dee Snider in March of this year about creating MTV’s Headbangers Ball, of course, Matt tied it into a lesson in RIA operations! This article draws parallels between Dee Snider’s journey of legitimizing and promoting heavy metal to influence and create the Headbangers Ball with several of our COO guests from the podcast who discuss their roles within their firms. When asked how exactly they came into operations, many of our guests said they saw an area that could use more support and decided to do it themselves.  Matt encourages COOs, “If you see something at your firm that could be done better, or if you are afraid your firm will lose out on a particular avenue of growth, ‘Be Like Dee,’ and don’t be afraid to raise your hand!  Your firm, and your career, will thank you!”

The Complexities of Alternative Investment Performance Reporting

Our May white paper was inspired by one of the most commonly asked questions we receive when conducting our operational diagnostics – “How do I manage the reporting on alternative investments?” With this paper, we wanted to shed light on the importance of this asset class and highlight how other RIAs have solved for these complexities.  We conducted interviews with subject matter experts to outline why “the added operational burden is worth the hassle.” We also interviewed firms that have developed a process to handle this type of reporting, as well as three of the leading industry solutions: Arch, Canoe, and Mirador. To read the full report, click here.

25 Lessons From 25 Years In Wealth Management

We don’t want to age Matt, but in this article, he recapped some of the lessons he’s learned in his (many) years in this industry. It makes sense that this was one of our readers’ favorite articles because it provides a little background of Matt starting as a Wire Operator, to starting his own business, and a few funny moments throughout his career journey. For example, Matt writes, “When someone declares, ‘It’ll be different this time!’ they are almost always naïve and usually very wrong” and, “A bank that says, ‘We’re an RIA’ is still a bank at heart” and “Fears over Y2K in 1999 were dramatically overhyped; fears over the mortgage crisis in 2007 were dramatically ignored.”

Client Onboarding: You Can Never Make A Second First Impression

This article examined a common bump in the road many firms experience shortly after advisors close business with a new client – onboarding. After the client has given the advisor the green light, information needs to be gathered, IMAs need to be signed, and accounts need to be opened and transferred – the process can become very cumbersome very quickly. Communication disconnect between an advisor and their service team is very common. This article outlines how we believe this problem can be tackled – hand off the new relationship to the experienced client service team, or, if the advisor wants to be involved, have the client service team send an email of all necessary information to the client before the “close” meeting, so the client can arrive prepared with all the necessary information. It’s important to have a concrete system in place for new client onboarding so nothing falls through the cracks.

Evaluating Employees the EOS Way: Get it, Want It, Capacity to Do It?

Although RIA firms have been using EOS for a while, it seemed that 2022 had us running into this methodology around every corner. As Matt wrote in the article, “the Entrepreneurial Operating System (‘EOS’), made famous in Gino Wickman’s book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business… one of the key components to EOS is ‘Getting the Right People in the Right Seats.’” We specifically focused on GWC – Get it, Want it, and Capacity to Do It. These ideas are used to evaluate team members to see where they best fit in the organization. “Despite the recent pullback in the markets, the RIA industry is booming.  Every firm is attempting to service more and more clients with a limited number of staff and resources, therefore it is imperative that each role be filled by the right employee.  Use this GWC filter to set your firm up for success!”

Checklist for Evaluating Outsourced RIA Vendors

With the SEC proposing a new rule for the due diligence process for third-party vendors, we decided to create a list of some of the questions/considerations firms should take when thinking about adding a new vendor. We recommend firms look closely at what a vendor means when they say, “We integrate with X technology.” Does that mean information flows both ways, or is it a simple download and upload between platforms? What kind of termination clause is detailed in “the fine print” of the contract? Does the vendor require 30, 45, or 60 days’ notice? And who owns the data? If you happen to terminate the service, do you keep/have access to it? This is a great checklist to keep handy when thinking about updating your tech stack.

An Alternate Way to Ask for Referrals

This article was inspired by the most common mistakes advisors make when asking clients for referrals – ways which unfortunately often put the heavy lifting on the client’s shoulders! We suggest a different approach: do your homework on their network then provide them with a specific name and solution being offered to that prospective client. In October, Matt wrote, “Happy and satisfied clients want to see your business grow and achieve success, but many times they don’t know how to do that for you.  Take as much work out of the process for them and present a scenario that only requires them to say, ‘Yes!’ and nothing more.”

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