Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an interview with Jack Thurman, president of BKD Wealth Advisors. To view the first part, on knowing your prospects and “the ideal client,” click here.
Jack Thurman believes there’s plenty of growth in the “millionaire next door” market for the firm to own a good share of, but he notes one of the biggest challenges to this is hiring talent: “Going out to market is not our biggest challenge – but it is if we don’t have the talent.” And having talent is a crucial part of delivering on client expectations.
The firm’s strategy on this is two pronged: recruit from the colleges and the wealth advisor market. However, it is only interested in bringing in advisors with five to ten years’ experience as beyond that he believes advisors have “so many habits” that it is hard to retrain them in the firm’s culture. This gives an idea of the importance BKD places on having a defined culture, which is perhaps linked with its emphasis on delivering standardized client service.
“You can have the best financial planners…the best portfolio managers out there but in all truthfulness the greatest need within this marketplace to compete with the major brokerage firms is a client service model,” says Thurman.
There are visible efforts in this area in the industry: Schwab Advisor Services has been running a program on client profitability that focuses on standardization and creating service models. Critics of this might argue that wealth management is all about individual relationships, but “you can build standardization with customization,” says Thurman.
“You build a structure. And people are people to a large extent, yes they have their…idiosyncrasies …but what we do is make sure we’ve got it in our system… We are very dedicated to putting our clients’ preferences into our system.”
He likens it to being a regular guest at a high-end hotel: you would expect consistency of service, but if they know your individual preferences – the type of pillow you like, for example, or your favorite brand of soft drink – they can just pop that into their system. With this in mind, BKD hired Ritz Carlton to help it develop its client service model.