More Prospects to Meet


Our day-to-day activities pull us in different directions. Sometimes we feel like we are going 100 mph in a 55-mph speed zone and getting no where. We are servicing clients, preparing and monitoring financial plans, and listening to rapidly changing market conditions on the television in our office. We suddenly look up at the clock and the day is over. Repeat that often enough and we will look at our business in a couple of months to find that we don’t have any new prospects. Or a plan to grow our business.

We must always be finding ways to recruit new prospective clients if we want our business to grow. We need a consistent pipeline of individuals that have a problem that our expertise solves. Because we are already so busy with running the existing business, we don’t find time to devote to the key metric in our business – marketing. And, if we find the time to think about it, the marketing efforts we implement are general and not specific to a targeted audience. In some cases, we know that recruiting is such a vital activity that we outsource it to a 3rd party to “get me in front of more people.” We end up with the wrong clients and therefore compound our day-to-day activity problem. At the end of the day, we should be choosing whom we do business with instead of the other way around.

There has to be a better way. I suggest three simple changes to create an ongoing flow of high-quality people that want to speak to you due to your expertise.

1. Clarify your message. People make decisions on initial reactions. They don’t take the time to research anything about the quality of person behind the story. You must be crystal clear on what you do and for whom you will help.

2. Use technology properly. We all have websites. Even if there are chock full of pleasing graphics if they don’t produce results or show up in search engines they aren’t serving their purpose. Figure out how to use your existing email lists better while you clarify your message to your targeted audience. This saves time, money, and effort on your part. Don’t waste time weeding through everyone to get to the truly high value prospective client.

3. Make referrals a part of your presentation. Whenever you meet someone, you should ask what a good prospect looks like for them. In doing so, you have created value that will reap benefits down the road. Create a closing script that includes this verbiage to separate yourself from any competition.

It’s not easy to be clear and concise, especially in a complex financial services practice. However, if you follow our guidance using the StoryBrand seven-step framework, you can create an environment where you become a magnet instead of a megaphone. Stop wasting time and money on the outdated marketing strategies of yesterday. Instead, use a plan that brings the people that need you the most to your doorstep. Automation allows you to continually prospect, even during your busy day-to-day activities running a financial planning practice. The consistency of your message combined with automation lifts you to new levels, helps more Americans, and adds time for you to do the things that are important to you.

Transformational Tactic: Use technology and the right words to create a consistent flow of prospective clients to your firm.

high performing practice retirement prospecting

Grow with the Best Prospects – Easily


At every sales meeting, my staff talks to me about concerns that our advisors have in trying to build their business. Our industry has a nearly unlimited opportunity to help American families retire and protect their wealth. With the number of financial professionals today plus the erosion of talent over the next 20 years, it’s easy to say that every planner has enough prospects to help grow their business.

So, why is it such a problem to grow the number of clients in your practice?

The problem is building your practice in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you and your staff, do it profitably, and have a higher performing practice than when you started. Most people tell me that having a higher performing practice means adding new clients. That solution works well if you truly need to add more clients, potentially add assets under management or new sales, and achieve more revenue. But, just adding more people might not create the leverage you need to make a high performing practice.

Adding more clients also means more service, more plans, more time, more effort, and more costs. That means a similar level of profitability, less time with your family, and most likely less enjoyment out of your business. You have to pay attention to how your grow your business and with whom you grow your business. If adding more clients is your solution, you have to be deliberate in the clients you choose to add.

This critical choice boils down to these key points:

1. Define your target audience.

2. Be as specific as possible.

3. Determine the #1 value you bring to that group.

It’s that simple. While we all feel a responsibility to help as many Americans as possible retire more securely we must make the careful and diligent choices that make a difference in our clients’ lives. And in our own lives as well. You must have a plan to grow your business purposefully. You may feel that you will project a negative impression by not working with everyone that comes your way. Or, you might feel that you could lose a potential sale by referring a prospective client to another person. What’s important is to understand your purpose, of your business, and to your client. You have to define your value.

Your value starts with understanding what you can deliver to your potential audience. By choosing the processes, products, and services that you specialize in, you can better articulate your value to your intended audience. And, remember, there are plenty of people that need our services for you to be laser-focused on your audience. That’s the key. Understand your audience better than everyone else and you are likely to win the client. Speak in their terms empathetically and authoritatively to demonstrates you can deliver on their needs, dreams, and goals.

Transformational Tactic

Understand your target audience better than anyone else.

If you would like more information on how to transform your business to a high performing practice, sign up for our free course and register to receive weekly updates from High Performing Practice.

high performing practice retirement growth

Uneducated Opinions


As a freshman at Indiana University, I seemed to be in a fog during my first week of basketball practice.

The whole experience of Assembly Hall, Coach Knight and some of the best players in the country was a lot to take in as a student manager. Every year, Coach made a point of saying something to each of the new managers. Unannounced, he came up to me, made a somewhat indirect introduction and said something I’ll never forget:

“Son, after you graduate, you are going to hear from a lot of people who think they can coach. I would encourage you not to pay attention to the uneducated opinions and pay attention to how we play basketball at Indiana.”

Sure enough, there were plenty of people who would offer their thoughts once they found out I was a student manager ― how they would have used Steve Alford more effectively, or how they’d have gotten Keith Smart the ball more often.

What surprises me is how often this conversation occurs in business as well.

In April, I read an article from Ken Fisher in USA Today titled “Avoid Complicated Annuities.” I have several concerns about the article ― not only because of the misinformation it contains but because USA Today’s distribution means a wide audience is receiving poor advice. At the end of the day, Mr. Fisher’s article is nothing more than an opinion piece on annuities, and it appears to lack the proper factual perspective on what annuities can do for many retirees.

First, the article quotes Mr. Fisher as saying, “Whatever you need, annuities are probably wrong.” That simply isn’t accurate. The evidence behind study after study continues to show the benefits of annuities. Ash has a study that shows how the benefits of guaranteed income ― using a QLAC for deferred income ― improves the probability of success in 48 of 48 scenarios. If your goal is to mitigate the risks of longevity and running out of money, annuities are probably right in most situations.

Second, Mr. Fisher indicates low-cost stock and bond funds held directly are better in the long term. I don’t completely disagree. I’m an equity believer and find that equities put clients in a great position to outpace inflation. Unfortunately, Mr. Fisher’s statement lacks the backdrop of the changing demographics in America.

The typical trailing baby boomer (ages 50–59) has far less in savings than the generation before. I am deeply concerned that this will plague our industry for the next two decades or more. Today’s planners are expected to create more income, for longer periods of time, with the least amount of assets. Using annuities can reduce, or in many cases eliminate, the impacts of longevity on a portfolio. Therefore, understanding the proper placement of annuities within a portfolio helps alleviate some of the pressures felt by retirees. Annuities offer an alternative to a systematic withdrawal strategy using stock and bond funds. We have to help retirees think and act differently than they originally thought they would in retirement.

Finally, it’s difficult to know when our last days will be. You shouldn’t be confidently willing to bet on longevity. Think about insuring risk versus betting on it. You do it for a home fire or auto accident. Why not use that same philosophy in your retirement income portfolio? Look for smaller chances to create big impacts. There is a wide gap between a journalist and a columnist. The difference is fact and opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion ― but we can use research to show the value of deferred annuities and tax-efficient income from annuities. So don’t always believe what you hear from someone online or posing as a journalist. To get the facts on annuities and other retirement solutions, speak to one of our Retirement Income Consultants.

Winning Strategy: Use facts to make educated recommendations to your clients on retirement income planning.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at

Information and Interpretation


In the financial industry, we talk all the time about improving overall client experience. Inevitably, this conversation turns to technology and how to make it easier to purchase our products. Yet adoption is often slow for several reasons, the least of which is the inability to shorten the process, even with electronic order entry.

But there’s one thing that isn’t being discussed enough: the ability of the consumer to level the playing field through technology.

I’m not talking about the customer’s ability to go online and complete their own financial plan or research us as financial planners. The real equalization of the client-advisor relationship is the ability to obtain limitless information online. Returns, allocations, expenses, investment styles ― all of these are readily available to consumers before the first conversation takes place with the advisor.

So how do advisors add value in the information age? Simple. Financial planners interpret the mound of information. We bring value to the customer by making sense of all the data. It’s critical that the financial community recognizes this change in our society and adapts to the ways people access information.

Recently, I talked with Gabrielle Bosché on my Winning Strategies podcast. Gabrielle is an expert on millennials and spoke about how millennials were taught to access information in school. Their entire education centered around standardized testing, learning through video and interaction, and how to find information. Our clients will eventually become ― or already are ― the same way. With technology, clients can access any piece of information in seconds, yet we continue to see behavioral tendencies that prevent most Americans from having a successful retirement. The reason is a lack of good interpretation.

Interpreting information is a major shift in our roles. For years, we believed that by providing information, we make ourselves different. But our value isn’t in education, information or our ability to research. Instead, our value to customers lies in our ability to distill vast amounts of information and data into a meaningful conversation. We must weed through the minutiae and prioritize the relevant information. Our value manifests itself when we help change a client’s behavior to make informed decisions in a way that improves the probability of retirement success.

It’s easy to get information. It takes talent to change behavior. The bridge is the ability to interpret. When we show our clients the way to retirement success and position ourselves as a guide, that’s when we make meaningful changes in our clients’ retirement.

Winning Strategy: Think about how well you interpret the information your client already has access to through technology. Interpretation will be the new differentiation.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at

Effective Change


Habits are hard to break.

It’s even harder to make positive changes that create good habits. We’ve all said we wanted to set a new goal ― exercise more, eat better, read more, get to work earlier or spend more time with the family. I’ve failed many times at all of the above.

The secret behind effective change is repetition and focusing on a goal.

Many people who change do so with a mental picture of what the goal looks like. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight, it’s proven to be more effective to set goals such as running a 5K, achieving a thinner waistline or building stamina to play with the kids. It’s important to know where you are headed and the reward that will be there ― that keeps a person motivated, especially through the hard times.

Real change happens when we make incremental changes in our daily habits. Some people may be able to go cold turkey or jump in with both feet. If you’ve created permanent change with an all-or-nothing approach, congratulations! But, statistically, chances are those changes won’t stick. Breaking old habits and creating new, sustainable ones takes time and commitment.

The same goes for changing your financial services practice to an income planning focus.

For years, all of us in the financial services industry have been told to build a business with reoccurring revenue. The path of least resistance has mostly focused on a wealth management strategy ― accumulating assets under management and creating a steady flow of revenue from a percentage of those assets.

The problem is that strategy doesn’t allow for shifting demographics. We have to create more income, for a longer period of time, with less assets, than ever before.

It is a unique challenge, and it’s relatively new. Past generations had a stronger pension system and started taking Social Security sooner. The markets didn’t fluctuate based on sound bites circulated on the internet.

Retirement income planning is changing before our eyes. Nearly $600 billion worth of pension assets is currently frozen in the U.S. pension system, and current reports predict that Social Security will go bankrupt in 2035 without substantial change. Markets will continue to be affected by political climate, taxes, tariff structure and general market fluctuation.

We have to act, think and behave differently in order to help our clients retire securely.

We can’t go “cold turkey” with all of our clients ― the vast majority need advice and guidance on how to make sure they don’t run out of money in retirement. So how do you create effective change in your practice to address these changing demographics? The same way you successfully change other habits ― vision and repetition.

If the benefits of changing your practice to focus on income planning aren’t immediately clear, look at the risks of not doing so. In multiple surveys, investors have said they would leave their current financial advisor if Social Security or income planning advice is not offered to them within the next five to ten years. Changes to our practice need to happen in order to remain relevant.

Income planning is unique ― it takes planning, listening and alternative vehicles to reach the ultimate goal of a secure retirement. It must be done individually, one-on-one, which makes for the repetition. But it’s important to think strategically: How do we make the shift now, instead of when it’s too late?

Winning Strategy: Changing demographics continue to shape the needs of our clients. Make sure your practice reflects the coming needs of your clients, so they want to stay with you.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at