Practice Management

New Clients, Enter Stage Right

By Leila Martin

What do film production and financial planning have in common? More than you might think. Which may be why, for one actor and producer turned financial advisor, it was easy to make the switch — and to pick up clients in unexpected ways.

“I was working in the film industry as a producer,” said Berkely Arrants, president and founder of Horizon Advisory Group, LLC in Houston, Texas, “which is oddly similar to financial planning in that producers pull a lot of pieces together to try and make one cohesive product after the fact. And financial planning is just that — pulling all the pieces of people’s financial lives together.”

New Clients in Unexpected Places

Actors preparing for a role need to get to know the space their character lives in and the relationships that shape their world. Financial advisors, likewise, may find it beneficial to get to know the people and businesses in their town or city.

One way Arrants achieved this was by joining a national leadership program with a local chapter called Leadership Houston. The year-long program was designed to create opportunities to meet people you ordinarily might never encounter and learn about the city you live in from different viewpoints, from the arts and business environment to government, sociology, and education.

Arrants never openly pitched any of her cohorts, preferring to let actions speak louder than words. Instead, she made herself available over the course of the year as a resource for anyone with financial questions. By the end of that year she had 10 new clients from Leadership Houston alone, and still gets calls from classmates seeking help.

“I believe that it is in my actions that my greatest value is demonstrated, and it is those actions that set me apart from other advisors. You can talk the talk all day long, but until you walk the walk you are no different from anyone else selling investments or insurance.”

Walking the Walk: Business Best Practices

“The most important thing you can do,” she said, “is to always act in the best interest of your client. Sometimes that means it’s a not a big payday for us as advisors, and sometimes it is. But if you always do what’s in their best interest, it ends up paying off much more in the long run, and by that I mean, with referrals.”

It seems to have worked for Arrants, whose business these days is built entirely on referrals.

Beyond best interest, though, Arrants’s business practices are all about good old-fashioned relationships and being the best she can be in order to bring the best to her clients. Among her top values are: be organized, be respectful, and always follow through on your word.

One of Arrants’s best practice recommendations, though, is something you may not have heard articulated: be patient.

Patience, Planning, and Education

“There’s a lot of pressure in this industry to get the sale, but sometimes it takes patience to actually get the result that’s in the best interest of the client. I’ve had people I’ve kept in touch with for a number of years, and sometimes it takes that long. If you stop keeping in touch with your clients after a month or two, you’re leaving opportunities on the table.”

Part of this patience manifests in education, making sure clients are able to make informed decisions. This is especially important, Arrants said, because when people first come looking for financial advice they often don’t know what they have, how they got it, what it does, or how it works. Arrants is a firm believer that people should never be sold something they don’t understand.

Planning, too, takes patience, especially when you’re trying to prepare for the unknown. After all, all movies — from period pieces like “The Man in the Iron Mask” to more contemporary dramas like “We Were Soldiers,” both of which Arrants claims among her production credits — have one thing in common: a script. Everyone on the production team goes in knowing the ending. With life, it’s not that simple.

“The whole thing with financial planning is,” Arrants said, “because we don’t know what life is going to look like, how do we create as many different possibilities and opportunities for our clients as possible? So that whatever the situation is when they retire or something else happens, we’ve got the option to make a choice that can dramatically impact the way the rest of their lives play out.”

The pulling together of a wide range of possibilities and resources may come as second nature to someone with film production experience, but financial advisors do the same thing every day. Plus, at the end of a production run all you have is a movie. A good advisor can help people to have a lot more.

“I had a blast working in film,” said Arrants, “but financial planning fulfills more in me than film production did because I get to help people. I see it every day, how much we make a difference in people’s lives.”


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