What can advisors and firms learn from the college selection process?

October 6, 2016 by Loren Brockhouse

A family walking around a campus on a tour during their college selection process

About the author:

Loren Brockhouse

Senior vice president, sales

Loren leads our global sales strategy and execution. His passion for developing people and leveraging the latest technology and sales methodologies allows the Advicent’s sales team to use a consultative approach to serve the financial planning industry.

They say experience makes life decisions easier, but I am not in agreement. In the past 30 days, I have taken my third child on her first college visits in her college selection process. It is definitely not getting easier.

In fact, I would argue that is getting much more complicated and emotional. Experience has helped, we have started at the beginning of her junior year in high school and have narrowed the list based on her older brother and sister’s selection process experiences. Our first visit was a small private college in Iowa to which we all went knowing we want to be in Minnesota.

What stood out in the college selection process?

However, as much as we wanted this part of the selection process to go poorly, we were blown away with the experience. These are the main things that stood out to us:

  • Everyone we met with was so credible, helpful, and caring. They made the experience personal and made it feel like an easy next step for our daughter post high school.
  • We were spending time together evaluating what was best for our daughter’s future and she trusts we will guide her in her best interest.
  • She loves soccer and basketball, and the coaches were very excited to meet her and spent as much time with us as we needed to get our questions answered.

We walked away thinking, “This Iowa school has a chance and I am almost disappointed that we liked it so much.” It blew our expectations away. Next we visited a smaller school in Minnesota. We had very high expectations for this school since her brother is a sophomore there – and they delivered. How were they able to do so?

  • They had inside information on the persona of their prospective student. They did their homework by meeting our son to gain insight into what their prospect (our daughter) was looking for and what was important to her.
  • They took personalization to the next level. Our entire day way mapped out including time with the coaches and the players because they knew this visit was less about academics and more about athletics.
  • As much as the coaches at the previous school wanted our daughter to attend their school, they just did not have the same depth and breadth that this school did. They engaged us in many ways with the conversations taking twice as long but passing in half the time.
  • We had a transparent conversation where the coaches shared what they believed and were very clear what was needed for this to be a good fit on both sides.
  • In meeting potential future teammates, she was able to envision life at this school.  When you have multiple choices that are attractive, it is the little things that matter.

What does this mean for financial planning?

So now you are wondering what this has to do with financial planning. Well, it has a lot to do with financial planning:

  • It is competitive out there, and the little things make a difference. I changed advisors in 2015 because this new advisor adopted technology that allowed me to become more engaged in my holistic financial plan.
  • The credible advisor wins. Sharing their philosophy and a holistic plan were critical to what was important to me. It needs to be a culture fit for both sides.
  • The first time I met my current advisor team, they were family-oriented and much more concerned with our goals than selling a product.
  • I was introduced to their team with whom I would work during the first meeting. They knew it was important I trusted them and wanted to work with them.

College is a significant investment and is a life changing event for both the student and the parents. Making the right choice results in a great experience at college, and a great college experience results in lifetime friends and memories. A great college experience can also result in great internships which often result in employment. Employment allows everyone to pay for college and start a successful financial journey.

Picking the right advisor is just as critical. Spend the necessary time with prospects to ensure you are clearly showing your value and what sets you apart from other advisors. Ask questions about their goals and work to truly understand their situation, building trust between you and your prospective client. By making the advisor selection process a positive one, you are instilling confidence in your abilities moving forward with the relationship.

Click here to learn more about providing engaging technology to empower your clients for financial success with our Narrator® Clients portal or call (885) 855-7526.