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An Ex-NFL Coach Tackles Advisors

By Chris Latham May 1, 2013

Former NFL coach Steve Moore stood in front of a room full of financial advisors and used a black pen to scribble a complex football play on a large sheet of paper. It took him three minutes to explain it. He asked the advisors if they understood the play. None of them answered.

“That’s how your clients feel,” said Moore, who now runs Moore Solutions, a business consultancy, in Bellevue, Wash. “Just show them where the ball is going.”

He means that advisors often spend too much time discussing financial technicalities that clients don’t understand and don’t really care about. Clients keep quiet, for fear of seeming ignorant or irresponsible. To give them what they really need and want, advisors should use “goals-based reporting” that keeps the information at a high level. This can consist of simple charts showing portfolio performance over time against traditional benchmarks.

Moore, who spoke on April 30 at the annual IMCA conference in Seattle, is the author of the 2010 book Ineffective Habits of Financial Advisors — one of the few volumes to sell out at the conference.

During his football career, Moore coached the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. Off the field, he has worked with teams from Microsoft, Apple, Russell Investment Group and Raymond James, with a focus on strategic planning and effective execution.

Before wealth managers even start counseling clients, Moore recommends that they consider specializing in a profitable niche. Advisors might carve out a market based on client careers, age range and geography — for example, lawyers at least 50 years old who live in a city's downtown.

“Most people grow up in this industry as product-driven advisors,” he said at the conference. “There’s another way of thinking, though. Pick a market that can actually pay you for the good work that you do.”

In their day-to-day practice, Moore said, advisors should make sure meetings have a personal touch, like having the office assistant bring clients a cup of their favorite tea. If you factored a recent family vacation into a client’s discretionary budget, ask about the trip.

As for planning materials, show clients only what they actually care about: graphics that illustrate their progress toward individual goals, and plain-English explanations of how you’ll help them get there.

Moore wasn’t shy about hammering home the football-financial planning analogy. “When you get right down to it,” he said, “I’m just an old coach who loves seeing players win.”