Who knew that Paul Lofties' Chinese lessons would lead to this?
What's the best way to learn? That's a subject that's been researched to death and a safe answer would probably be, "It depends upon the learning style of the person doing the learning."
But Paul Lofties--Securities America's vice president of acquisitions, product, and wealth management--discovered a more widely applicable approach when he and his wife decided to study Mandarin Chinese.
"Our lessons were frequently delivered in 10-minute segments based upon research by a Harvard expert that found students particularly remember the first five minutes and the last five minutes of any presentation they hear," Lofties says. "This format worked so well for Chinese lessons that [Securities America senior vice president Kirk Hulett] and I decided to use it for our own podcasts."
Thus was born Advisorpod.com, a series of Securities America-branded 10-minute podcasts aimed at advisors who want to improve their practices. A visit to Advisorpod.com reveals a relatively simple website where users can register for free and listen to Hulett and Lofties' full archive of podcasts stretching back to May 2009 when they began the service.
"We created two series--the masters series and the practice builders series," Hulett says. "The masters series delivers insights into the top business practices of Securities America's most successful advisors, while the practice builders series covers business-management ideas for building a more efficient and profitable practice." Lofties' team produces the masters series, while Hulett's team produces the practice builders series.
Plumbing the archives, one finds past sessions in the practice builders series on subjects such as office communication, referrals, and ideal client profiles. Past masters series entries include the " Working with the Mass Affluent and Retiree Niche," and "Building a Wealth Management Team."
New pairs of podcasts are generated twice a month and can be listened to at Advisorpod.com or downloaded and listened to via iTunes.
We're pretty certain most advisors listen to our podcasts when they're out doing things, like driving to work or exercising," Hulett says. "In other words, they're not listening in the office; their listening when they perform various lifestyle activities."
The latest series has a Masters Series podcast on the subject of "A and R" activities. "A" activities are tasks that comprise the asset-management services in an advisory firm, while "R" activities are tasks that are performed for additional retainer fees. If this pairing of fee structures seems unusual--as it did to me--Lofties has found through his own research and field work that the higher-earning advisors are charging retainers in conjunction with the asset-under-management fees to cover the planning tasks performed during the year that are separate and apart from asset management tasks.
The problem is . . . most advisors not charging retainer fees have--in most cases--failed to list those tasks that fall on the planning versus asset-management side of the ledger. Checklists, templates and other learning materials are downloadable from the site to accompany and augment the podcasts. For the aforementioned podcast, one can download a list of Securities America's findings as to asset-management-related tasks versus planning-related tasks.
Since its inception last year, Lofties and Hulett have picked up 1,400 registered users from the Advisorpod.com site and another 7,000 listeners for each of the series via iTunes.
Where do the ideas come from for each podcast?
"We do a lot of coaching and consulting with our advisors and, in the process, learn what the burning issues are for them," Hulett says. "With this background, we sit down and plot out our podcasts six to 12 months ahead of time."
Although anyone should be able to pay attention to and get something out of a 10-minute podcast, Hulett says that some of the topics can still be pretty dry. "We try to create a fun atmosphere in the way we do our podcasts. What's most challenging is boiling down a topic like how to segment one's client base into a 10-minute presentation that advisors can really get something out of, and doing it in an entertaining way."