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The “Collective Trust” – A New Financial Product?

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Much Like a Mutal Fund – But Less Transparent

By Staff Reporters

Recently, we received this query from a physician-investor. So, we went right to the innovator of this financial product for the answer.

A collective trust is similar to a mutual fund that only sells to institutional investors like 401-k and 403-b plans. Because a collective trust doesn’t take on retail investors, it’s exempt from some regulatory requirements, so beware!

But, not having to deal with retail investors also makes the costs lower.

Link: http://thefinancebuff.com/collective-trust-vs-mutual-fund-whats-the-difference.html

Assessment

The BlackRock EAFE Equity Index Collective Trust invests in stocks in developed countries, tracking the MSCI EAFE index.

Conclusion

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Financial Product Sales, Communication and Management

Techniques-of-Art for Financial Advisors

By Robert Ayrer and ME-P Staff Writers

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Before any piece of work that requires communication can be understood, the context must be established.  Without context, words have very little reality; and without reality, there can be no communication. Communication is the “transfer of meaning.”

Introduction

The lack of a definitive role of the marketing function (and the sales function, and the difference between the two) for financial advisors [FAs], has contributed to the lack of clarity required for the achievement of sales targets. The fuzzy line between “targets” and “goals” has left most financial product salesmen, OSJs [Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction] and sales managers without the “tools to manage.” In this context, we will define the financial sales person’s role as the “person responsible for the execution of the corporate, or personal, sales plan, which includes the short term marketing of the company.”

Marketing versus Sales

Long term strategic marketing is a very sophisticated process, requiring highly trained people that are not involved with the mundane, day-to-day activities of the enterprise.  Unfortunately, this type of “marketing” is done by too few businesses, RIAs, BDs, and FAs.

The “marketing plan”, as defined by Malcolm H. B. McDonald, Director of the Cranfield Marketing Planning Centre, of the Cranfield School of Management, is a comprehensive business plan, incorporating and integrating all of the elements of business; the four “P’s” — Product, Price, Place and Promotion. More often than not, financial sales organizations and RIAs are run by people with “Director of Sales & Marketing” titles.  This use of the “marketing” title often confuses the difference between marketing and sales. For our purposes, we will include the very short term marketing function in the sales department’s role.

Dirty Ear Marketing

This “very short term marketing” required of the FA or sales person is what is called “The dirty ear” marketing.  The “dirty ear” comes from “keeping an ear to the ground” to detect changes in the market that would affect the assumptions that support the marketing plan and the company sales plan.

It has been said that the American plains Indians could drive a stick into the ground, put the end of the stick to their ear and tell if the buffalo herd was within twenty miles — and, by bending the stick, tell in which direction.  The more sophisticated tracker could tell whether the herd was approaching or going away.

It is this short term, close in, change in direction of the market (herd) upon which the assumptions of the marketing and sales plan are based, that should be the concern of the sales department or financial advisor and business owners. 

Of Bull and Bear Markets

For example, during times of economic expansion, and bull markets, the purchasing authority for many items is transferred down the reporting chain to the lowest possible responsible level of management. At this level a sales person or FA may only require one or two calls to complete the selling process with a buying authority. This authority level would dictate the activity of sales people in achieving their personal sales plan and achieving their targets and goals. 

During a recession however, as is occurring now, authority to buy may be withdrawn from the customary buying level, designating someone at a higher level as the “buyer.” The financial sales person still must go through the traditional contact at the lower level. These contacts can now only say “no”. They cannot say “yes.” By adding another level of decision making to the buying process, additional activity will be required to make the average sale. You cannot double the activity required to make a sale and make the same number of sales!  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that working harder is the answer, as there is only a finite amount of time available to get to your prospects. Your options are; change the plan; adjust the sales budget; add more sales representatives.

The Sales Cycle

Continuing a sales plan based upon the assumption of a two-call sales cycle when the market requires a three or four call cycle will take your sales plan out of reality.  The key to both a good marketing plan and a good sales plan is “reality.”  It is the FA or sales manager’s prime function to see that the sales organization is working in “reality” by constantly testing the basic assumptions of the sales plan.

The challenge to every financial services business owner, sales manager and every FA sales person is to stay focused on the prime objective of a sales person – processing the sale.  To maintain focus on the sales objective, the activities of a sales person should be looked at in two categories; “tasks” and “selling objectives.”  The tasks are those activities that all sales people are required to do to service clients – handle back-charges, warranty claims, stocking services, point of sale maintenance, etc.  The selling objectives are defined by the sales progression used in the sales strategy.

Processing the Sale

To give better understanding to this concept, consider the following.  If you find a local bank that offers a certificate of deposit that is paying a good return, and you put $10,000 on deposit, you have made an “investment.”  It is an “investment” because you expect your money back with a profit.  To find this investment opportunity you must be focused externally (not within your own business).  And, investments are a source of new capital.

If, on the other hand you take the $10,000 and purchase a car for your business, your focus is internal to your business, solving a problem of transportation, and you will only realize gain by reducing an existing or potential expense. You will not realize any new capital from this expenditure.  This use of the $10,000 is an “expense.”

Internal and External Focus

To generalize, if your focus is external and you are seeking to generate new capital by exploiting new opportunities, this is an investment.  If your focus is internal, and you are solving problems (the activities that come after the sale), the time and money spent is an expense.

Tasks and Objectives

Sales people sometimes lose sight of the difference between the “tasks” (internally focused after sales activities that are expenses to the company) and the sales “objectives” (opportunity seeking activity that will result in generating new capital through sales). Although we must service the task items, we can avoid “buying” the customer’s problem (forgetting that the customer’s problem is our opportunity).  The way we make sure we maintain focus on the opportunity rather than the problem – is to link every task with a sales objective. 

Management Reporting

Historically, we have asked sales people and FAs to report to management through an activity report that usually records the “task” items but ignores the opportunity items. To use the reporting system as a training and management tool, stop requiring the typical activity and expense reports.

Instead, ask your sales people fill out an “Opportunity” report and an “Investment” report.  It is true; “What gets measured gets improved!”  If you want your sales people to be externally focused and seek opportunities, investing in accounts rather than “solving problems” and spending money (“expense” items), measure and report on the opportunities and investments.  It is more positive to run an investment department for your business rather than a cost center.

Managing For Results

Peter Drucker observes that “… there are no profit centers in a business; there are only cost centers.”  The profits centers are external.  Again, quoting Drucker; “Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems!”

Assessment

The above offering is intended to help financial advisors and sales people “manage” themselves, and for the sales people who have assumed the mantle of OSJ or “manager”, etc

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker:If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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