Double the time, double the growth
LPL advisor Sam Sharples (Montana Wealth Management in Missoula, MT) doubled the size of his practice in the last year. He believes it’s because of his guiding principle: to provide advice and guidance to his clients above all else – not to sell them something. This principle has led him to take an almost exclusively fee-based approach of building one set of models for all of his clients.
Using this approach, Sam has created the capacity to spend more time with clients, deepening his relationships without compromising time for himself and his family. This has led to growth and peace of mind, knowing he’s supporting his clients in the best way he can.
“The clients expected a sales pitch every time their advisor called. I decided I wanted them to know that when I call, it’s because I have advice for them, not because I’m selling something.” –Sam Sharples
A guiding light: Advice first
When Sam first started his practice, he took over a book of business that was 100% brokerage. His initial interactions with clients eventually led him to his current approach.
“The clients expected a sales pitch every time their advisor called,” Sam said. “I decided I wanted them to know that when I call, it’s because I have advice for them, not because I’m selling something.”
With this goal in mind, Sam’s first order of business was to transition his appropriate clients over to advisory to focus more on the advice aspect of his client relationships rather than the commissions. But he also took his principle a step further by implementing what’s now a regular practice — calling his clients just to see how they’re doing and with no agenda in mind. “People want to hear from you. They want to know you care,” he said. “By calling my clients regularly, I’ve built strong relationships rooted in trust.”
While Sam’s goal has simply been to get to know his clients and help them feel cared for, his regular calls have led to incredible business growth. “It’s worked so well that I don’t advertise or ask clients for referrals,” he said. “I have my hands full managing my existing clients and the referrals they provide without prompting.”
Enabling his approach: A models-based practice
Sam says his successful approach wouldn’t be possible if he were managing customized portfolios for all his clients — or even trading the accounts himself. Although he knew he wanted to be the portfolio manager, Sam also realized there was no way he could manage 200 individual accounts and still have enough time in his day to be a relationship manager.
“I initially decided to design one set of models for all my clients so that I could dive into 10 or 12 funds and know them backward and forward,” he said. “I want to be able to tell the full story of each investment we own and why. It’s also the only way I can manage portfolios myself in a scalable, repeatable way.”
Shifting to models-based portfolios was an effective starting point, but as his business grew, even this approach felt time-consuming with all of the trading required for the 200+ accounts he now manages. With many retirees in his client base, Sam has to manage 401(k) rollovers regularly, which means significant trading. On top of that, his older clients have ongoing distributions, and his younger ones make regular contributions — requiring more trading, as well as thoughtful rebalancing.
Sam was able to address this challenge with Model Wealth Portfolios Advisor Sleeve.
The right solution: Advisor Sleeve
With Advisor Sleeve in Model Wealth Portfolios – one of LPL Financial’s premier advisory platforms – Sam can build his own model portfolios from the ground up while outsourcing trading and rebalancing activities. “I like having the flexibility to create my own model, yet without the added burden of trading it myself,” Sam said. “There are several tasks I was regularly doing myself that are now automated, which has freed me up immensely to focus more on my clients and offer them value-added services.”
Sam especially appreciates the automated rebalancing that occurs after withdrawals and contributions, which took up a significant amount of his time before he had Advisor Sleeve. “It’s not necessarily the actual trading that takes so much time, but the work before trading,” he said. “If someone is removing or adding funds regularly — and many of my clients do — I’d spend a great deal of time figuring out where that money needed to go to maintain the allocations. Now, that’s all done automatically.”
Sam knows handling regular rebalancing for only a few accounts would be doable, but not for the hundreds of accounts he manages. “I wouldn’t be doing anything else!” he said.
With all of the automated features, Sam can connect with his clients the way he wants while also spending more time with his family. “I really have gotten my time back as a result of Advisor Sleeve,” he said. “As a new husband and father, I value my time more than ever. Now I can dedicate as much time as I want to my clients while also having time for my family.”
Transitioning to Advisor Sleeve: A process rooted in trust
Sam knew he wanted to transition as much of his business as possible into Advisor Sleeve so he could fully take advantage of its automation. But to do so required some thought and planning, especially for taxable accounts.
“I was able to transition non-taxable accounts immediately, but taxable accounts are a little more challenging,” he said. “Thankfully, Advisor Sleeve has an aggressive tax-loss harvesting capability, which helps a lot.”
Sam also created a tax-hold model where he can place accounts while he slowly unwinds the Strategic Asset Management strategies his clients were in previously, ultimately reducing the tax hit over time. As of today, he’s been able to move 95% of his business into Advisor Sleeve.
When it came time to discuss the transition with his clients, Sam says it was an easy discussion. “Because of my business model and constant communication with my clients, I have built-in trust with them,” he says, “so there was no real barrier to the change.”
The value of time: Price is no barrier
While Advisor Sleeve can present some incremental costs compared to LPL’s open architecture platforms, Sam feels the value and service he gets in return are well worth the initial investment. “I can reduce my own costs because I spend so much less time on the accounts,” he said. “It’s actually cost-effective for me because of the amount of business I’ve gotten in return for the extra time I’ve had to dedicate to my clients.”
Ultimately, Sam feels Advisor Sleeve is pivotal to his business model and continued growth. “It’s been huge for my business,” he said. “Whether I want to call my clients with no agenda, offer more financial planning, or even take a day out of the office to spend with my family, I can do it thanks to Advisor Sleeve.”
To learn more about LPL’s advisory platforms and tools, visit the Products and Platforms section on LPL.com.
If you’re an LPL advisor, and you’d like to learn more about Advisor Sleeve and find out if it’s the right fit for your business model, visit the Advisor Sleeve section on the Resource Center.
Advisors should only recommend an advisory account if it is suitable for the client. Advisory accounts may not be appropriate for every client. Advisors need to understand that advisory relationships involve a higher standard of care than brokerage and typically require an ongoing duty to provide advice and monitoring.
There is no assurance that the Advisory platforms discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. The purchase of certain securities will be required to affect some of the strategies. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.
The views and opinions expressed by the LPL Financial Advisor may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance and success.
Montana Wealth Management and LPL Financial are separate entities.