The Consulting Siren (Don’t Get Sucked In!)

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Being in the business of practice management consulting and having worked with hundreds of advisors over the years and have seen all types of practices come to us – the good, the bad and the ugly.

What has been interesting to learn is that the large majority of these firms have pursued some form of consulting, coaching or training prior to engaging with us.  The feedback we have received from the introductory conversations we have had with these firms enables us to aggregate the reasons why some programs work and others don’t.  This input has also put us in a position to enhance the tools, advice and resources we provide to our Network members.

In a nutshell, consulting can be helpful, worthless or even hurtful.  Often, consulting or coaching programs can be a siren that attracts advisors with promises of solutions to all of your problems or shortcomings and a vision of wealth and happiness that is just around the corner. 

However, if there isn’t a philosophical alignment with your firm and the approach of the consultant or consulting program, the experience can quickly go astray. Many consulting programs have a specific business model or approach they force their customers to adopt instead of helping firms create the business model that’s right for them. We’ve heard feedback from advisors that they felt like they were a square peg being forced into a round hole.

Another frustration advisors have shared with us is some programs can be a perpetual engagement with no clear milestones that ends up costing tens of thousands of dollars and no real results to show for it.  For example, we’ve heard from some of our members that they had spent thousands of dollars and only ended up with just a couple of workflows built when, in fact, they knew they needed dozens!

Other pitfalls we see are the programs are canned, not customized, and/or stretched out over long periods of time such that advisors lose motivation and momentum since they don’t see enough progress being made fast enough.  Another complaint we hear about is advisors are required to keep paying high monthly or annual fees ad infinitum to be able to continue to use the materials or technology they paid thousands of dollars to get access to and adopt in their practice initially. In essence, they feel like they have been held hostage.

If someone else is creating ideas for you that don’t match with your and your team’s abilities and the way you think and operate, then there is a very low likelihood of adoption and success. This is especially true if a consultant doesn’t have deep enough expertise or personal experience in the area for which you’ve hired them. Unfortunately, many of these programs are sold with a great deal of hype you don’t find out that you aren’t getting what you thought you paid for until it’s too late. 

Many advisors have no idea they are working with a consultant or coach that has limited experience or, in some cases, has never worked in an advisory firm or even in the industry. Due to either their lack of experience or the time that has lapsed since they were actively working in a financial advisory firm, they often cannot relate to how advice is provided today or how a office needs to be set up and run in these current times.

Here at Fox Financial Planning Network, we don’t hype or aggressively sell our platform.  We take the time to get to know you and understand your motivations and needs to ensure there is a good fit.  We also have over 28 years of experience in owning and operating a successful advisory business that has enabled us to tailor a one-of-a-kind consulting platform that is delivered to firms in bite-sized pieces so implementation of systematizing the delivery of client services can occur quickly, with clear success milestones, and focus on helping advisors run a more efficient, profitable and satisfying business. And all at a fraction of the price of many of the other consulting options.

So, the next time the consulting siren catches your attention, do your homework, dig deep into the expertise of the consultants, determine whether the program matches your needs, and make sure that you are maximizing your consulting dollar before you make the leap.

Deborah Fox

About the Author:

Deborah Fox is CEO and Founder of Fox Financial Planning Network (FFPN). Deborah has been a financial advisor running her own firm for over 25 years. She is nationally known for her unique planning processes and for instructing and coaching financial advisors on how to work more efficiently in order to free up time and increase profits, all while delivering a higher level of client services.