Five Questions with Lisa WatermanSubmitted by Signator on April 26th, 2018
In addition to building and running a successful wealth management practice in Fort Wayne, IN, and grooming her daughter Kirsten to take over the business one day, Lisa Waterman of Waterman Financial Services is District Governor of northern Indiana for Rotary International. Finding time for community service and industry groups, Lisa has been involved in Easterseals Arc, Questa Foundation for Education, Civic Theatre, SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), Passages, Inc (helping individuals with special needs), Allen Business Exchange (ABE) - a networking group; Estate Planning Council; and the Planned Giving Council. Busy? Yes! But, she's tuned in to her clients and stays focused on the future.
How do you think your business has changed over the past five years and what factors do you think have contributed to your overall success?
Years ago, I worked in wealth management for large banks selling 401(k) and investment management services to business owners, many of whom are personal clients today. Through the encouragement of Chip Olson, a friend from Rotary, I became an independent financial advisor and established my own firm in 2014. I'm now in my third year of independence and feel that was the best decision I have ever made professionally.
Part of my success comes from being fully engaged with my clients. I'm direct and concise and ask questions that get them thinking, but I also understand how critical it is to truly listen to what they're concerned about. As a CFP ® practitioner, the basis of everything I do is planning and determining what makes sense for my clients, not what I have to sell.
Working with Centers of Influence, attorneys and CPAs has also had a considerable impact on my business. For my high-net-worth clients, with their permission I arrange annual meetings with their other advisors to gain consensus - always keeping the client at the center of our planning conversations. This approach has been amazing for referrals and client satisfaction.
I've also taken a strategic approach to utilizing social media with the understanding that it is more about VALIDATION and VISIBILITY than direct marketing. Facebook and LinkedIn provide channels for me to successfully engage with clients and prospects, expanding the reach of my brand by sharing updates about me and my practice.
What specific customer-centric activities do you and/or your firm initiate?
We try to have a quarterly, informational event which could be product-specific or a meeting with a guest speaker on a general topic like social security or healthcare. These types of events help assure my clients that although I may not be an expert in every area, I have access to and work with other knowledgeable professionals.
We also hold client events that tap into what I know my clients enjoy; local theater, golf outings, community, charity or sports events. These activities not only provide opportunities for me to show my appreciation, they help strengthen existing relationships and provide a venue for my clients and prospects to network with each other.
What do you think are the biggest concerns or challenges facing investors today and how are you helping your clients overcome them?
I think clients sometimes feel like no one is looking at the BIG picture. They know they're supposed to be looking at their OWN big picture, but feel ill-equipped to do so. My client base includes a lot of attorneys, CPAs, CFOs, and company presidents. These are smart people, but they recognize that they need someone to oversee everything from taxes to estate planning and income planning - someone who will ask pertinent questions.
Why have you made that investment and what is it supposed to be doing for you? What are you worried about?
I ask about their estate planning, account titling, when things were last updated, etc. I ask a lot of questions and explain complex issues in concrete terms they can understand.
I also strive to help clients select the most appropriate money manager. My job is to help clients understand why an investment or manager is right for their situation. That might mean a portfolio manager or an ETF, a mutual fund, or a John Hancock portfolio. My strength lies in choosing diversified managers, strategies, or products and ensuring I'm helping my clients meet their investment goals and objectives.
It's very exciting that your succession plan includes bringing your daughter Kirsten into the business. How is that going?
Kirsten has been working as my assistant for about two years, obtaining her insurance licenses late last year and her Series 6 this past March. The plan is for her to work with clients from a small book of business I acquired, gain experience, and then as time unfolds, get involved with some of the more complex relationships. She currently joins me in meetings so she can experience client discussions firsthand and observe my process. I spend time explaining to her about why I'm choosing a certain product or service and why it's better suited for the client's overall plan.
In five years, I expect to grow my business by about 15% annually. Kirsten will be a full-time advisor with her own book, and we will have hired a new sales assistant to cover our support workload. It's wonderful to have someone by my side that I know I can trust and who has a vested interest in our future.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Kirsten or others interested in a career in wealth management?
Without question, our business has significant barriers to entry. Working in the financial services business has been incredibly rewarding but at the heart of it is helping people gain comfort - comfort with the plan of action, with a portfolio manager or strategy, and with you as the advisor. Strive to help your client feel comfortable by helping them to a brighter future. Help them understand what to expect - surprises are nice on your birthday, but not in your investments! Talk to clients. Find reasons to call them. Consistent communication with your client is the best thing you can ever do.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment or tax advice. You are encouraged to discuss your situation with a qualified financial professional bearing in mind your investment objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon.
Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Signator Investors, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC, Registered Investment Adviser, 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116. www.SignatorInvestors.com