Planning to me is taking every aspect of someone’s life. And I really encourage advisors that just because they have a strong suit in one area, don’t make that a plan. A plan is where you step back and help somebody with all of those aspects—and then bring in specialists as needed.

- Rebecca Robinson

Rebecca K. Robinson shares how she’s thinking about the future of comprehensive advice and investment management

Whether it’s your investor’s portfolio, your own financial practice, or an investment management program you manage, planning and prioritization are key to ensuring you’re on track to reach your goals as a financial advisor. Rebecca K. Robinson, executive vice president and director of wealth management, Zions Bancorporation, shared some insights of what she’s learned over the years when it comes to helping investors plan for the future. As a leader of an investment management program, she shares how she’s helped her team rise to the challenges facing the financial industry today.

Remember the big picture

With a career that’s included work as a tax accountant, Certified Financial Planner, and director of an entire wealth management division, Robinson has experienced the sweeping changes in the financial services industry firsthand. And like many in the industry, she’s seen the need for holistic planning and comprehensive advice rise over time. From the growing amount of information at investors’ fingertips to the evolution of all aspects of our financial lives, things are becoming more complex and more intertwined.

To help her program address this need to consider a client’s entire financial picture, Robinson’s team launched what they’re calling a “discovery program.” “We want 90% of our clients to have been discovered by the end of 2022,” she explained. “And what that means is, we have documented goals and objectives for each of them. We understand what their plans are. And from there, we’ll move into really doing some of that financial planning, but it’s not enough anymore just to focus on one area…people need advice. And I think that’s what they value in an otherwise sort of commoditized industry.”

She encourages her advisors to think about a plan as much broader than one area of the client’s financial picture. It’s not just investments, insurance, or their estate plan, but how all of it comes together—and what it means for the client’s goals for the future. “Planning to me is taking every aspect of someone’s life. And I really encourage advisors that just because they have a strong suit in one area, don’t make that a plan. A plan is where you step back and help somebody with all of those aspects—and then bring in specialists as needed,” said Robinson.

Robinson acknowledges that it can be challenging for advisors to take on a new area or focus if it’s not something they’re skilled in. And while training certainly helps, Robinson also reminds her advisors to lean on each other. “We’re trying to really encourage them, and the benefit of a banking organization is you have a lot of other partners. Bring in the right people, no one expects you to know everything.”

Face your challenges and embrace the opportunities

As the director of an investment program, Robinson also has to think beyond the clients and make sure she has the right team of advisors on board. “Most of our investment management is advisory. We want you to be planning focused and advice focused, so we’re very particular about who we bring in,” she said. And that can present a challenge, to find and cultivate that talent. Her solution? As an industry, “we need to start growing people who are advice centric, rather than sales centric,” she said.

On the flip side, she cites client loyalty as their biggest opportunity. Her and her advisors are “working in an organization that has so many very, very loyal clients. People who will help grow their business. We made some of their first loans. They trust the organization. We get a lot of lift off of the trust that others have built.” So the sweet spot is to get enough of those advice-centric advisors and connecting them with the right clients, at the right time, to make sure they can help make a difference for those clients.

Robinson added that for her program, they’re very focused on growth that aligns to their core values, that’s planning centric. “We are creating lifelong relationships with our clients, with their children and beyond. So it’s growth, but in a disciplined way that we can be really proud of.” And for Robinson, it’s that disciplined kind of growth that will lead to greater results in the long term.

Share goals as a team

Overseeing not just the advisory group, but also trust planning and other aspects of wealth management, has positioned Robinson to unite these groups and their respective leaders and create a sense of shared success. If only one division is succeeding, they don’t all succeed. And she noted that’s created a much better environment for incentivizing advisors to work together across the organization. “We rise and fall together,” she said.

Along those same lines, Robinson encourages hands-on training. “The best training is sitting in a meeting and watching someone with more experience than you, or more expertise than you, handle a situation,” she said. By pairing junior advisors with those who are more senior—which includes face time with even large clients—the junior advisor has the opportunity to participate with people who are very seasoned planners, portfolio managers, and trust officers, while having a seat at the table. “It’s really on the ground, and they get excited because they learn that clients change and get more complex, but it’s the same playbook. Then they’re less panicked when they see a bigger client coming through the door.”

Her methods seem to be working well. “What we’re really proud of is our advisors become very successful very quickly,” she said. “We’re making that investment in them and people know that.”


 

The views and opinions expressed by the LPL Financial Advisor(s) may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance or success. Neither LPL Financial nor the LPL Financial Advisor can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered. 

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