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Mitch Anthony's Intuitive Advisor

The Practice Doctor is IN

Nashville or Bust: A Case Study 10 Years in the Making

by Al Depman, CLU, ChFC, CMFC, BH
Practice Management Consultant

Al Depman photoDanny is a longtime client who has had a stellar start to 2016. The reasons? Hard work. Persistence. A little luck. And a nice, large case ten years in gestation.

Danny's practice has crossed a threshold. Where once he was aiming for the stars in country music, he's hit the stars in financial services. It's a story of patience and establishing relationships, of ups and downs, and of life's strange journey.

He arrived in Nashville from his home in Delaware eleven years ago with a dream of becoming a country music session musician, maybe even establishing himself as a star performer. Danny had an earring, long hair, a drum kit in his car, and not much of a game plan.

After a couple of years playing the starving freelance musician role, Danny realized he needed some income and turned to financial services. Perhaps that would be a backdoor to the musical world—offering to manage the finances of those connected to the music business. So it was that in 2004 he joined a regional firm that was opening a new branch in Nashville.

The church Danny had joined was a source of new clients early in his career. He knew Jim and his brother Bill from church. They hit it off, sharing a passion for fantasy football—and earning respect from Jim who had started in the insurance business with AXA but didn't make it. Jim understood the difficulty Danny was facing in his new line of work and became a client to help him survive.

Jim and Bill continued to be Danny's good friends and competitors in the fantasy football league, but they were not open to additional business since their parents had a long-time financial guy, Gary, who had assumed he would (and was) working with the kids. Over the course of the subsequent years, Jim became professionally involved in the technology world, rising to the executive level of an IT company.

Danny's work with Jim took a positive turn when, during an annual review about his small life policy, he introduced a financial planning approach to their relationship. This was in sharp contrast to the transactional product-driven method that was Gary's standard practice. Jim did a fee-based financial plan and began to implement concepts and products that Gary had never broached. Bill, who also took a career move into the technology world, still felt allegiance to Gary.

Danny persisted, however, and since Jim was an advocate of this planning process, kept inviting Bill to various educational seminars and got permission to send him his quarterly newsletter. Finally, one particular seminar caught Bill's eye. His business was growing and began to face succession and key person issues. Bill was unable to make the seminar date, but consented to have Danny do a recap of the key topics over lunch. This encounter was very successful. Later, Jim would tell Danny that Bill had always felt that Gary was a bit condescending and that Danny had proved to be honest and down to earth.

Bill agreed to a $2,500 financial plan. The combination of business and estate concerns bloomed into a need for key person life insurance, a buy-sell agreement, and a plan to maximize executive benefit funding. Bill was also impressed with how Danny brought a team sensibility to his planning process. Eventually, this team involved Bill's CPA, a wholesaler, an attorney, and branch office expertise. Truly, no stone was left unturned. The long-range plan has additional strategies to implement over time.

Bill's business is digital forensics, a booming field, and he is in contact with many attorneys and business leaders in the area. Referrals and networking opportunities abound.

So what practice management lessons can we take away from Danny's tale?

  • Persistence pays off. Staying in touch with Bill over the years proved that Bill really wasn't ready for Danny until his business had grown to a critical point. And Danny was there when that tipping point occurred.
  • Master your process and be consistent with it. Danny's financial planning experience impressed Jim to the point where he could feel comfortable recommending it to his brother.
  • Surround yourself with a strong team. Danny had developed relationships with other professionals who assisted him in the technical details of case preparation and presentation.
  • "I'm working with someone" is often a lame excuse. Gary, the family's insurance guy, was no match for the value Danny brought to the table.

With these connections, it might not be long before Danny fulfills his dream of becoming the financial advisor to the country stars in Nashville. Meanwhile, he's still available for the occasional drumming gig.

The Doctor is OUT

© 2016 Al Depman

Al Depman, CLU, ChFC, CMFC, BH, a.k.a. "The Practice Doctor", is's Business Practice Consultant, and contributor to "The Wall Street Journal." He is the creator of "The Practice Management Assessment" tool, the key component of The Business Practice Check-Up™, has authored numerous articles in professional publications on practice management, and is the author of the book, How to Build Your Financial Advisory Business and Sell It at a Profit, available from McGraw Hill. Al combined his Liberal Arts studies with 10 years of management experience with McDonald's Corporation to enter the financial services world 25 years ago. Since then, Al has evolved from an MDRT-level sales rep into a full-time consultant specializing in helping others engineer their business practices to the next level. Contact him at

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