Prospera Hosts Annual Sales Associate University


Sales assistants are the lifeblood of many financial advisor businesses. Even so, few training programs exist to help them handle everything that comes at them. 

Prospera Financial Services, a Dallas-based firm with over 165 advisors and approximately $16 billion in assets, is trying to change that. 

“Sales assistants play a mission-critical role in the professional success of financial advisors,” said Tarah Williams, Prospera’s Chief Operating Officer for Prospera Financial Services, explaining the rationale behind the firm’s recently concluded Sales Assistant University. 

Digital Wealth News recently spoke with Williams to learn more about this program, the discussions at this year’s SAU and how technology can help support staff enable practice growth.

Were there discussions at SAU about the best types of technology tools and solutions that sales assistants and other support staff need to maximize their ability to serve financial advisor businesses?  If so, what key take-aways can you share?

The discussions we had at our SAU event about the best types of technology solutions covered quite a bit of ground, given the pace of innovation that has been happening across the wealthtech space. 

But at the end of the day, the most helpful tech tools for support staff drive a more seamless level of connectivity, communication and collaboration between client-facing professionals and back office professionals.

The ability to to set tasks and notifications integrated with your CRM using applications like Taskray, along with integrating client experience software with your CRM are two great examples.

There was also quite a bit of excitement about tools that integrate marketing and communications with compliance and social media platforms, chatter capabilities that enable rapid communication between professionals, as well as digitizing traditionally paperwork-driven processes with tools like e-signature.

Generally speaking, how open to using productivity-enhancing technologies are the independent financial advisor businesses that Prospera works with?

For us, it’s the classic 80-20 rule in terms of openness to embracing new technologies.  In other words, 80% of our practices are excited for and embrace emerging technology and clamor to be pilot cases.  Since the average financial advisor at Prospera manages approximately $100 million in AUM, most of our affiliated professionals are actively educating themselves on what’s out there and how they can continue to get better for their clients and provide better experiences. 

And of course, 20% of our financial advisors are comfortable with current solutions, and believe “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

By staying very actively engaged with all of our practices and seeking feedback on key issues like new technologies, we ensure that we’re adopting technologies that are relevant and impactful for the widest universe of financial advisors possible.

Why are sales assistants and other support staff so critical, in your view, to the success of financial advisors?

Sales assistants and other support staff serve as the lifeblood of successful financial advisor practices. 

It is typically the sales assistant or other support staff who are the first point of interaction with clients when they come into the office or reach out to the advisor’s office, either by phone or email or otherwise.  Support staff typically have a unique opportunity to really get to know clients beyond investing needs, and they usually work in concert with the advisor to deliver the best possible client experience.  In fact, sales assistants and other support staff are frequently the point persons ultimately responsible for ensuring the processes around delivery of the client experience are put into place and executed effectively.