Michael Beck
Granite State C.U./CUNA

Jim McCarthy
Lockheed Federal Credit Union/Invest

Ray Noel
Bellwether Community Credit Union/LPL

BIC: What opportunities exist in your territory?
Beck: What with Bernie Madoff and the market, people are more concerned about integrity. Fortunately, moral values are consistent with the credit union's reputation, and that's opened up opportunities.

McCarthy: We're trying to expand on members by offering fee-based investment services to help members manage their risk. Noel:We have a blossoming private wealth group; Bellwether has 17,000 members, so that's a wonderful revenue stream; and we're working with local business owners, providing group plans and personal financial planning to executives and employees.

BIC: What practice management technique has helped you the most?
A couple of years ago I adopted a 5-5-5 plan, so every week I do five fact-finding meetings, five follow-ups and five review appointments. I also have a daily action plan, which is 10 client touches for follow-ups and referrals.

McCarthy: I have an assistant and she is very helpful in keeping appointments in front of me. Her support is my secret weapon.

Noel: We adopted a total quality management system, which is a continuing process of measurement and improvement. If we do something more than once, we create a process for it, and that has helped us become more efficient and to provide a superior client experience. For example, our high-net-worth clients now get 20 touches a month through different media.

BIC: How does your client mix affect your demographic?
Most of my clients are age 50 to 75, and looking to build retirement plans, so I use a lot of variable annuities with living benefits and guarantees.

McCarthy: We figure out what makes the most sense for each individual. We have fixed annuities, fee-based products, variable annuities and mutual funds in equal amounts.

Noel: On the private wealth side we use complex solutions using correlated and noncorrelated assets, but lower-net-worth clients don't need to mitigate particular risks or manage for taxes, so we'll use more mainstream products.

BIC: What's your biggest challenge?
Beck: I cover six main branches and a few smaller branches, so my schedule has me at one in the morning and another in the afternoon, which makes it hard to be efficient. I'm now using technology to help.

McCarthy: It just takes a lot of time to evaluate the products and see where they fit with the client base.

Noel: Our biggest challenge is maintaining our service model. It's just as important to work on your practice as in it, so we reevaluate our processes every week and we have three off-site meetings per year to really drill down into our processes.

BIC: What advice would you give an industry newcomer?
Beck: It's so important to be organized but also to have a system for each step. It'll help you be consistent so each client gets the same attention to detail.

McCarthy: Do your homework on products before you offer them so you understand how it fits the need of that client.

Noel: Do a deep inner self-check to see if the passion exists to facilitate all the work that it's going to take, and adopt an unwavering commitment to being a student of this profession. Lastly, commit to excellence of service as a fiduciary.

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