businessman checking final mark on checklist

Content provided by Kostya Etus, CLS Associate Portfolio Manager

2015 is coming to a close which means it’s time to reflect on the year that was. But, more importantly, it’s time to plan for the year that will be. Planning for the future (for anyone and anything) has to start with the three basic questions:

  1. Where are you today?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. What needs to happen to fill the gap?

Answering these questions may seem tough, but unfortunately that is the easy part. The tough part is committing to your plan and seeing it through to the end. I recently read an article by Andrea Schlapia listing five things advisors should be thinking about for 2016, and I was very happy to note that CLS has them all checked.

1) Appoint and Support a Chief Compliance Officer

The regulatory world is not getting any simpler. Recent developments include newly proposed laws on fund liquidity constraints, Social Security benefits, U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary duties, and restrictions on stop-loss orders. Furthermore, enforcement agencies are cracking down on financial institutions. Outside of the dramatic headlines surrounding Curian Capital and F-Squared Investments, it seems there is a new horror story of wrongdoing every week. Compliance has become a critical function and needs to be embraced by the entire industry to stop the black eyes. Luckily at CLS we can rest easy knowing our stellar compliance team is on the job.

2) Utilize Technology

This is not only necessary to pursue younger clients, people of all ages are using technology more and more every day. Everyone wants things done fast and done right, and technology gets us there. For example, many people favor digital access to their accounts and paperless statements these days. But why stop there? How about video statements, robo-advisor functionality, and a simply beautiful website? I would say CLS is ahead of the curve on this one.

3) Differentiate Your Firm

If all advisors say the same thing and make the same promises, how do you choose? The answer is through trust and customer service. As Schlapia writes, customers need to know you are thinking about them first and foremost. If you have this down, it will serve you far more than differentiating based on fees or products. At CLS, we have always put our clients first by prioritizing the client experience every step of the way.

4) Create Strategic Alliances

Having dependable partners is an invaluable resource. Whether in sales, trading, portfolio management, or anything else, partnering with other firms to achieve common goals is a favorable endeavor. Primarily, it allows you to share costs and skills to provide clients with the best service possible. CLS has many dependable partners in the industry that we are proud to work with.

5) Build a Team Infrastructure

“Team[work] is no longer an option, it is a necessity,” Schlapia writes. Having a team approach is the most successful strategy from an operational standpoint as it allows for the combination of skills, time, and expertise. Beyond operations, it creates a cohesive atmosphere (culture) and leads to a collaborative environment (which breeds innovation). For CLS, although I can certainly mention how important teamwork is internally, in this context I will focus on our teamwork with advisors. Advisors, especially those with rapidly growing businesses, need to focus on what they are good at. “Advisors typically find themselves working in the business rather than on the business,” Schlapia writes. But by delegating portfolio management to CLS, advisors can form a cohesive team and build the infrastructure they need for further growth.


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