As advisors work on the Main Streets of America, they become deeply rooted in the communities they serve and soon start playing an important role in planning for their clients’ financial security. Main Street advisors understand the culture of their communities — or even the subculture within larger communities. They often have a finger on the pulse of what’s important at the present time or what might be the burning issue within the community because of what has occurred either recently or in the more distant past.
To serve Main Street America successfully and build a great practice with long-standing client relationships, advisors should:
» Be visible. Regardless of whether you have a storefront on Main Street, being visible in your community is a must. It can take time to build a strong reputation, but being consistently visible will begin the process today.
» Be a resource. Advisors often are asked to educate students, senior adults, parents, church groups or any gathering of individuals seeking to learn. The more you can put yourself out in the community as a resource, the better off you will be. On many occasions, these opportunities are offered gratis, but being seen as a community resource is priceless.
» Get involved in the community. Advisors often get involved by serving on community boards, participating in fundraisers or community events, or financially supporting causes important to them or their clients. Whether you are providing financial resources or human (brain or physical) resources, many in the community will take note of your skills and ability to serve. This is a great quality to project, as all of us seek to serve new clients in our own businesses.
» Connect others. When we are well- connected in the community, we know who we can go to and who we can refer others. Clients often ask me for a referral to a great local electrician, for example. I know exactly where to send them because I’ve worked with that electrician for years. Clients appreciate your knowledge of other resources within the community.
» Build relationships. Clients of Main Street advisors often become like friends or family. Long-lasting relationships involve sharing significant information about ourselves — details about our fears, financial struggles, goals, hopes and dreams. Being there for each other in happy times and in sad times is part of that relationship. It’s far from just a product sale.
» Meet the needs of individual clients. There’s no better way to be an asset to your community than to continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in serving individual clients. Meeting people where they are on their financial journey is critical. That may mean discussing budgeting or debt consolidation, researching and assessing old insurance policies, or assisting clients with filing claims and completing paperwork. These are things that advisors often do for no charge, and the financial reward may come later. I completely enjoy seeing clients make progress, and then we can become more proactive with their financial matters. Financially speaking, planning for the future is much more fun than dealing with the past.
» Meet the needs of small-business owners and their employees. Just as for individual clients, going above and beyond the call of duty for the business owners you encounter is always good for the community. Business owners are typically great at their trade, but at times they struggle with running their business. Advisors can become an incredible resource and provide referrals to other professionals.
Advisors can become a sounding board on running a business and assist in ensuring financial stability going forward. They also can help business owners address issues such as assessing risks the business may face, business continuity, or attracting and retaining great employees by offering an attractive benefits package. Strong small businesses mean jobs and economic security for the people within your community.
Main Street America is a great place to work and live. Advisors who are fortunate to do so can find great success and build incredibly fulfilling relationships with those they serve. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way. I wish you great success!
Juli McNeely, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, is president of McNeely Financial Services and past president of NAIFA. Juli may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.