One of the biggest challenges nagging advisors today is how to accelerate organic growth. It’s no secret that organic growth for advisory firms has tanked in recent years, going from a rate of 9% in 2017 to 3-4% in recent years. It’s also no secret that the world has changed drastically since 2020, especially when it comes to consumer behavior and expectations. Yet, many advisors haven’t changed how they do business, and that’s a problem.

How did we get here, and where do we go from here?

InsurMark Virtual CMO Jack Martin posed these questions and more to Stephanie Bogan, a high-performance business coach to advisors, leaders and founders, on a recent episode of The Breakthrough Advisor Podcast.TM

As much as we would all love to forget about the pandemic, Bogan believes Covid-19 played an integral role in how we got where we are today, an industry marred by lackluster organic growth. Specifically, it changed the way potential clients search for financial guidance and advice. Consumers are much more likely to do their own research and search online for an advisor and less likely to ask friends and colleagues to refer someone.

According to Bogan, “In the past, growth came from client referrals, as well as centers of influence. There’s really been a shift in the market place, where consumers are leaning more into the digital age. All of those trends toward digital or more modern marketing were already starting before Covid, but Covid was really the accelerant.” 

So, where do we go from here? If you want to accelerate organic growth, you need to lean into the digital age, too. 

High growth firms have shifted to a more diversified growth model

“If you think about that drop from nine to eight to seven to six, to now 3% organic growth, it’s not that there are fewer consumers. It’s that they’re finding advisors in more diversified ways. Instead of calling the CPA or asking their neighbor Bob, they’re listening to a podcast, reading a blog, signing up for someone’s email list, getting invited to a webinar. And they’re online finding people through Google. The number one search term around financial planning on Google is ‘find a financial planner near me.’,” Bogan explains.

This scenario epitomizes another key shift Bogan has observed regarding organic growth: Top firms in the financial services industry have moved toward a more diversified growth model (varied marketing and digital initiatives) versus a more concentrated growth model (referrals, COIs). 

Says Bogan, “A lot of advisors are relying on the traditional growth models, and they’re not seeing the kind of growth they used to. If you look at the high growth firms in recent studies, they are growing exponentially. They’re not growing 9%, they’re growing 20, 30, 40%. We have many advisors growing an average of 40 to 50% because they’ve built out what we call a ‘growth engine’.”

For Bogan’s firm and the advisors she coaches, the growth engine is defined as a steady pipeline fueled by multiple components. As she explains, “I don’t see growth as sales or marketing or SEO or my website or my digital strategy. All of those components form the growth engine, much like multiple components form the engine of a car. I think the holy grail of marketing for many of us is that steady pipeline of high quality, ideal clients with a 70% or better conversion rate that meets our growth goals.”

So, what’s holding you back?
If you’re not growing, you need to change your mindset

The biggest roadblock advisors face when it comes to experiencing exponential growth is the habit of clinging to an old mindset, where referrals and COIs alone are the key to success. 

If you are an advisor who’s hovering in that 3-4% range, continuing on the same path you took in 2017 isn’t going to get you where you need to go in 2024 and beyond. You are truly running on the proverbial hamster wheel, and it’s time to get off and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. 

Change isn’t easy though, and most advisors (like most humans) resist it. Says Bogan, “Everything advisors need to succeed is readily available. Yet, the vast majority of advisors don’t begin to tap into their potential. The odds of change are hardwired, stacked against humans. We are 95% likely to do today what we did yesterday, which means the world can be changing around us.”

But changing your mindset and DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT is necessary if you want to achieve the results that high growth firms do. Whether they realized it or not, that is exactly what they started doing when consumer behavior changed during the pandemic. 

At InsurMark, we’ve seen the strategies and tactics successful advisors use and how effective DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT, like adopting Bogan’s growth engine formula can be.  We have also seen what happens when advisors get comfortable and don’t adapt to what consumers are demanding. They flounder.

And yes, consumers are demanding more from their financial advisors than they did even five years ago. This poses another challenge for firms that aren’t prepared to manage those demands efficiently or capitalize on the opportunities increasing demands present (which are HUGE! Glass half full!). 

Really want to grow your business? Brace yourself for discomfort

Again, the first thing you have to do is decide to change your mindset. If you don’t, you’ll keep spinning your wheels. You also need to accept the fact that change takes time, and it involves trial and error. And when it comes to changing how an advisor operates his or her business, it’s likely that a financial investment will also be involved. 

Even though change is uncomfortable, the need for change is a mantra Bogan tries to drive home to advisors most every day—because for most advisors it’s necessary.

According to Bogan, “If you’re 65 or 70 and you’re going to do this for another five to seven years, and your clients are right there with you, you’ll probably be okay. If you’re anyone else, it is imperative that we start to pay attention to driving growth in a more intentional, disciplined way. We really need to drive those growth engines.

“The core principle of a growth engine is you have to identify the client you want to attract. You need the right message for the right client, not any client. So, differentiation is becoming a huge lever of growth for those high growth firms, and you have to be able to deliver that message at the right time and place.”

Ready to take the next step?

You can learn more about building your growth engine by checking out the podcast. Plus, we’ll provide more insight and tips from Bogan and Martin in an upcoming post. You can also connect directly with Stephanie Bogan via her website, Limitless Advisor Coaching or follow her on LinkedIn.

To learn more about InsurMark and how we help advisors tap into their potential to achieve exponential growth, give us a call toll-free at (800) 752-0207 or connect with us online.

As an ADO – Advisor Development Organization™, InsurMark provides solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of financial professionals with a mission to protect and enhance the financial security of every home in America.