Securities America Women Advisors Connect
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Fifth Annual Women & Finance Symposium

One of my favorite events of the year is when we bring together a community of top women advisors from Securities America and our sister broker-dealers affiliated with our parent company, Ladenburg Thalmann, to learn new ideas and network with each other to get even better at serving their clients and leading their staff.  In 2016, we hosted the event in October in Salt Lake City for the fifth annual Ladenburg Institute of Women & Finance Symposium.

We had some amazing speakers and I’ll touch on some of their key messages to give you a glimpse of some of the rich content presented:

Colonel Jill Morgenthaler presented the opening keynote. A U.S. Army veteran, recipient of the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit, former head of homeland security for the state of Illinois and an author, Morgenthaler spoke on “The Courage to Take Command.”

As the first of five women allowed into the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, the colonel used the acronym H.O.O.A.H. to share advice for succeeding in a male-dominated arena. 

•    HEART – Care about what you are doing and about those around you. 
•    OPTIMISM – Always have faith in yourself and your team. 
•    OPPORTUNITY – Take opportunities to learn, grow and advance.
•    ABILITIES – Make others aware of your abilities.
•    HANDS – We are all in this together, so roll up your sleeves.

During her inspirational message, Morgenthaler recounted captivating accounts of her career, including her experience as the Army’s media liaison during Saddam Hussain’s trial and how she extracted information from a mail clerk that prevented a Russian kidnapping of a U.S. scientist.  If you ever get a chance to hear Col Jill speak, do it.  She is AHHHmazing!

Philip Blancato, Ladenburg’s CIO, hosted one of the best economic panels I’ve ever heard with some of the sharpest women I really enjoyed getting to know – Emily Roland, head of investment research at John Hancock, and Kristina Hooper, managing director of U.S. Strategy with Capital Markets, Allianz. The panel discussed the current state of the economy and positioning to protect and grow assets during this volatile time.

Cindi Hill, CFP®, CRPC®, retirement solutions consultant at CUNA Mutual Group, busted the myth that happiness is the only emotion retirees experience in “Managing the Dynamics of Emotion in Retirement Planning.” Hill covered 11 emotions common during retirement, including strong feelings of fear and the impulse to flee to safety during stock market volatility, joy and possible over-confidence when investments do well, and regret, which can cause clients to become cynical.

Stressing the importance of addressing these emotions effectively, Hill noted only 4 percent to 10 percent of an average advisor’s success is due to their IQ while their emotional and social intelligence accounts for 50 percent or more. She recommended advisors employ different selling styles – dynamic, analytic and interpersonal – to fit disparate personalities and that they select investments with clients’ emotions in mind, including products with downside protection. 

Jeff Lanza, a retired FBI special agent and consultant on identity theft, cybercrime and fraud was absolutely superb.  Highly entertaining and full of great information, he told advisors how to protect sensitive information and avoid identity theft in “Hoodlums to Hackers.” Lanza’s tips included:

•    Don’t respond to pop-ups.
•    Hover over links in emails before clicking on them.
•    Look for an “s” after the “http” in a URL, which indicates the site is secure.
•    Shred pre-approved credit card applications.
•    Set up alerts for account activity.
•    Keep your mobile phone locked when not in use.

Ryan Bertrand, CFP®, CLU®, spoke on “Elder Fraud.” Bertrand serves as director for advanced markets with Transamerica Capital, which is partnering with the Stanford Center on Longevity for elder fraud studies. According to Bertrand, $36.5 billion is lost to elder fraud each year, and nearly four in 10 seniors are affected. He urged advisors to be aware of “smoke signals” that may indicate an incidence of elder fraud, to help older clients consolidate assets so they are easier to monitor and to get the name of a trusted contact they can reach out to if they suspect foul play.

“Your Brand, Your Business, Your Bottom Line,” encouraged the audience to create a strong brand by telling their story in a captivating way. Presenter Sheri Fitts, president of ShoeFitts Marketing, reminded advisors the PR about the financial services industry has often been negative, and consequently, the public doesn’t always trust financial advisors. Having a “good story,” she explained, is the only way to overcome a “bad story.”

An advisor can create a good story by describing why they are in business, what they love to do, how they do it differently and what that means to their clients. Rather than trying to close, Fitts said, they should focus on connecting. 

“Elevate Your Client Relationships,” by Kristina Page, regional vice president with Capital Group’s American Funds described three elements of elite engagement: credibility, consistency and connection. 

Page said an advisor’s credibility statement should cover their qualifications – education, certifications, what they do and quantifiable results. For example, “I have helped children from over 50 families like yours graduate from college with no student loan debt.” 

Since 80 percent of client interactions with advisor offices don’t involve the advisor directly, it’s important to ensure consistency in client contact and service with detailed Standard Operating Procedures.

Finally, she stressed the importance of connecting with clients on a deeper level than finances alone, establishing a connection with other generations within the family and bringing clients with similar interests together. For example, an advisor could hold an event for clients who love to sail.

While presenting “Exceeding Expectations and Then Some,” Amanda Johns Vaden, a senior partner of Southwestern Consulting™, noted for the first time in history, we have five generations in the workplace at the same time, which have distinct communication preferences.

The Matures: Aged 70 and up, this is a loyal generation who value relationships and prefer face-to-face or phone conversations. Johns Vaden recommended advisors send a thank-you card after meeting with a Mature.

Baby Boomers: Between 46 and 64 years of age, Boomers are the largest group of the overall population. They prefer phone and snail mail. Her best practices with this group included following up two to three days after meeting, communicating value and staying top-of-mind.

Gen X: Ranging from 35-year-olds to those in their mid-50s, Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with computers in their homes and schools. Johns Vaden said advisors should keep in touch with this group and respond to communications with a sense of urgency. 

Gen Y and Gen Z: The largest generation in today’s workforce, those 35 and under want to get to know advisors but online. It’s wise to text a quick thank you after meeting, connect with them on LinkedIn and stay in constant contact.

Trisha Miller, co-president and national sales manager for W.P. Carey, highlighted pertinent differences between men and women in “Men and Money” and explained how understanding the distinct male perspective can contribute to success.

For example, since 72 percent of men believe they know more than the average investor, men are more likely to do research and make decisions themselves and less likely to rely on advisors’ input. Miller suggested advisors serve as a source of research and whitepapers, provide periodic economic outlooks, hold educational seminars and create accounts their male clients can control. 

Men generally have a more short-term outlook, take more risks for potential rewards and are more likely to try to time the market. To overcome these tendencies, Miller recommended advisors help male clients implement a systematic investment strategy and conduct periodic reviews to rebalance their accounts. 

The event’s final speaker, Gloria Nelund, chairman and chief executive officer of TriLinc Global Impact Fund, discussed “Impact Investing.” According to Nelund, the demand for impact products is driven by women, Millennials and Baby Boomers. Determining what issues concern clients most and tailoring recommendations to address those concerns is an effective way advisors can differentiate themselves and improve retention. 

She noted 80 percent of widows switch financial advisors within a year of their husband’s death, and adult children often move their parents’ assets to a different advisor as well. In these instances, retention of assets is typically as low as 3 percent, whereas, retention is often around 90 percent when assets include a focus on impact investments.

This year’s institute also introduced new mentors and mentees participating in the LIFT Mentoring Program, now in its fourth year, and provided opportunities for networking. This year-long program gets rave reviews from both the mentors and mentees.  

Anytime you can get incredibly talented women together, you leave with so many great ideas on building a better business and so much more on everything else like fashion, fitness, fun and living an amazing life.  They say when one leader gets better, everyone wins.  Well, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, we all got better from attending this event.  

By Janine Wertheim,
President, Securities America Advisors, Inc.
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Securities America, Inc.

Watch the Women and Finance Symposium video to learn more.