How did this advisor double his AUM in one year?

By Vanessa De La Rosa


At the 2013 Million Dollar Round Table annual meeting, there was one particular focus session that couldn’t accommodate the amount of advisors who wanted to attend. While other seminars still had people trickling in and finding comfortable seats minutes before the scheduled start, this session, “Double your AUM and increase your revenue by 50 percent in one year,” was at capacity half an hour beforehand.

Led by marketer Robert Berman and wealth advisor David Marc Rosell, the session shed light on their award-winning high-net-worth-client marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at just how successful the plan was, before we dive into the specifics.

Before:

In November 2010, Rosell was looking for a way to revamp Rosell Wealth Management’s marketing efforts. His 10-year practice had experienced growth, but not at the pace or in the direction he desired. Ready to make a change, Rosell remembered a seminar he attended a few years prior, led by former National Marketer of the Year Robert Berman. The two had become acquaintances since then, so when Berman invited Rosell to his birthday gathering, Rosell decided it was the perfect time to ask for Berman’s expertise. Berman happily agreed and scheduled their first meeting in his December calendar.

After:

Fast-forward 14 months and Rosell is experiencing his most successful year in 10 years of business: He acquires three of his firm’s largest clients, ends the year with nearly double the assets under management, and experiences a 68-percent increase in his gross revenue. In January 2012, Rosell Wealth Management goes up against Jack Daniels and DSW Shoes and wins the national Excellence in Marketing Award for executing the best business-to-consumer promotion in the United States.

So what did Berman teach Rosell?
Identifying the “who”

It all started on day one, back in December 2010. Berman started by asking Rosell a few pivotal questions:

Berman: “Where are you spending your marketing dollars now?”

Rosell: “Last year, I spent about $30,000 on marketing. Most of it on radio ads.”

Berman: “How’s that working for you?”

Rosell: “Not so much.”

Berman: “What does your perfect client look like? Who do you want to talk to?”

After some deep thought, Rosell responded, “My ideal clients are 60 to 75 years old. Most of them have already made their money and are looking for the right person to manage it, protect it and help them distribute it in the most advantageous way, and are looking for help with their legacy planning. My perfect client has at least $1 million in investable assets, and oh yeah, by the way, they are cool people I actually like working with ... not just those with a warm body and an asset; people who get the more relaxed, resort-destination lifestyle of our community here in central Oregon.”

Berman then asked Rosell, “If you know you want to do business primarily with this tiny segment of the population, why the hell are you spending $30,000 talking to the whole world by buying radio ads?”

Touché. Rosell was floored by this rhetorical question. It forced him to confront the blatant gap between who he wanted to attract and who he was actually communicating with.
Identifying the “why”

Once Rosell had gotten specific about his target prospects and lackluster marketing ways, Berman and he could move on to perfecting his mission statement. Berman noted that traditional mission statements just don’t work, because they’re usually written by one person and left to hang on a wall plaque, instead of representing a whole team of people and their concrete ideals and intentions. They also don’t typically play a part in an advisor’s intensive planning process. Berman was going to change that.

Instead, he emphasized the importance of making a list of “core goals and objectives” that you can use to keep your actions in check. He says these lists “give you the ability to ask the question: ‘Will this action help me become this kind of business? Yes or no? Execute or eliminate?’ Easy.”

Berman posed his next question: “Who do you want to be, and why are you even here doing it?” The answer took over four hours to craft. They found that Rosell’s core goals and objectives included developing and maintaining the following:
  • quality across all aspects of the business
  • a culture of fun, flexibility, simplicity, integrity and respect
  • a client-focused and results-oriented practice
  • a high level of service to prospects, clients and referral sources
  • frequent and clear communication with all clients and prospects
  • an easy and convenient service for people
  • an environment where efficiency is constantly streamlined
  • a focus on a specific type of customer whom the firm is apt to serve profitably
  • a practice that is clearly recognized as the regional authority for wealth management, preservation and distribution for affluent people
  • a profitable growth that benefits stakeholders
  • involvement in the community
  • a way to differentiate from competitors
  • a constantly expanding set of income sources
When his list was complete, Rosell felt inspired. “This was the kind of company I wanted to be. This was my long-awaited true north. This would become the soul of my practice. This end result was this.”

Only with the “who” and “why” meticulously defined were they ready and able to move forward.
Brainstorming the “how”

Berman and Rosell went to work brainstorming deliverables and the specific plan for each idea. When they were finished writing up their list, there were 80 tasks staring back at them — some were simple and others were huge, national initiatives.

At this point, they knew who they wanted to target, what they wanted to provide and the ways they wanted to reach out to their ideal prospects. Once they did their market research and compiled a list of the top 150 high-net-worth clients in the area, they would be ready to implement the most arduous plan on their large to-do list: the marketing campaign that would eventually win them not only an award, but double the company's AUM and increase income 68 percent in one year.

And I'm sure you're wondering: How did they get that refined list of high-net-worth clients in their area? You can find their strategy here.

Implementing the plan

The plan was to spend more money per person on their shorter, more specific list of 150 high-net-worth prospects. After extensively researching each individual, Berman and Rosell tailored a unique promotional box for each person, containing an impressive, high-value product and cover letter. Each of the 150 prospects received one personalized promotional box each month over a six-month period, from March to August.

What kind of promotional products did they use? For recipients interested in baseball, the campaign sent a genuine Louisville Slugger bat with a message, like “You have been identified as a heavy hitter, and we want to talk to you.” They sent a cell phone and wrote, “When you’re ready, give us a call on your time frame.”

Some prospects received a Maglite flashlight, with a note that read, “Do you have a clear vision of what your retirement looks like?” Other distributions included a journal book and lottery tickets, with a letter offering advice: “While it can be fun to play the lottery from time to time, don’t gamble on your financial future. Write down your thoughts, goals and dreams, and then bring them in to us. We’ll help you build a solid plan to ensure you will live the retirement you’ve always imagined.”

Berman stressed the importance of attention to detail when planning each month’s distribution, and the pivotal role patience plays when waiting for results to blossom:

“Remember, this is a strategy that requires patience. We are brand building, more than we are selling. We are taking a respectful approach of: 'on your time frame, when you are ready, we are here and would like to talk to you.’”
After the first month’s distribution, Rosell’s office started to see a few new faces. One man walked in and said, “Anyone who is being this creative and trying this hard to get my attention I have to meet and talk to.” Rosell disclosed that that man had $12 million of investable assets (not net worth). He is now a client, with $4 million being managed by Rosell Wealth Management.

“At the end of the day, it is important to mention that it wasn’t the direct marketing campaign alone that got us the results we attained. Remember, there were 79 other action items on the critical path plan,” Berman adds.

Among some of the simplest plans on their list was sending Thanksgiving cards that read, “At this special time of year, when we think about what we are thankful for, I can’t help but think of you. Without clients like you, we would have no business. Thank you for your loyalty.”

A confidence shift

Describing the 10 years prior to this dramatic marketing makeover, Rosell says, “I think the truth is that deep inside, I wasn’t sure if I was capable or worthy of handling a $12 million client. I would have been more than happy to take on a $100,000 IRA case, which, by the way, I won’t even look at today.

My current approach is that I have set a soft minimum of $1 million or more in investable assets for a prospect to become a client of our firm today. It has changed my world! I am working with the kind of clients I want to be working with, and you can be, too.”

In the beginning, crafting a clear vision and a thorough game plan takes concentration, precision and a lot of hours brainstorming and perfecting the details. But in the end, your specificity allows you to get creative and figure out how to become the elaborate picture you’ve spent countless hours painting.

Once you get all your ducks in a row — the who, why and how— you can invest in engaging and maintaining relationships with your most ideal clientele ... and possibly even double your assets under management in the long haul.