Boston (June 25, 2003) -- The best financial advisory firms share five common traits, a prominent industry consultant told CPA planners here at the American Institute of CPAs Advanced Investment Management conference.

The very best firms don't apologize for fees, have an attitude about cost, and operate in a team environment, Mark Tibergien, principal at Seattle-based Moss Adams, told attendees during a general session on building value in an advisory practice. In addition, the most successful firms have planning at their core -- not collecting assets or selling products. Lastly, the best firms have a clear position -- they know which clients they serve and why.

Among all of the issues advisors face, two take top priority, Tibergien said: Knowing your client profile and managing cash flow/profitability. "If you can solve those two problems, everything else will propel forward," he said.

According to Tibergien, the optimal practice model is a relationship manager supported by junior associates who are supported by administrative support staff. He also noted that the profession is evolving toward retainer fees, rather than a fee for assets under management.
-- Melissa Klein

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