Mary Alsup-Niedergerke
First State Bank of St. Charles/Invest
St. Charles

Shawn Ehrhardt
Hawthorn Bank/ICA
Jefferson City

Jeff Werner
Empire Bank/Invest

BIC: What are the opportunities in your territory?
Alsup-Niedergerke: A lot of people here are retiring and they're looking for help with their financial planning. Working with centers of influence is very important because no one has all the answers. We just signed up with a trust service, which should be a great asset to both me and the bank.

Ehrhardt: We're focusing this year on goals and solutions, not products. The bank is excited about pushing financial planning and it's giving us free rein, no product quotas, because it realizes the business will follow.

Werner: With interest rates what they are, longevity is a concern. But we're one of the fastest-growing parts of Missouri and there's a fairly low cost of living here, which makes it easier to be a financial advisor.

BIC: What practice management technique has helped you the most?
Alsup-Niedergerke: Reviewing client holdings on a regular basis and considering the services clients haven't yet bought. Reviewing clients' 401(k) plans is also a plus as that's an excellent future source of rollovers.

Ehrhardt: Implementing a process to meet with clients and prospects. We use Redtail to track that process, which has been a big help. So we're now tracking rollover opportunities in the next six months, for example, and better documenting our notes.

Werner: I measure everything-where the revenue comes from, what's working; it drives me crazy when something slips through the cracks.

BIC: How does your client demographic affect product mix?
Alsup-Niedergerke: Many of my clients need help in planning their retirement income. I use a diversified portfolio of variable annuities for their income and death benefits, and mutual funds and unit investment trusts for emergency cash flow.

Ehrhardt: I work with a diverse mix of people, so I use a little bit of everything, although with the move toward financial planning my fee business is up 10% on last year. The more we talk to people about their financial plans, the more fee business magically increases!

Werner: My demographic tends toward life events-death, divorce and retirement, generally in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, and most will have to use at least some of those assets in retirement. In the past three years I've been using more variable annuities and third-party asset managers, which helps put me on the same side of the table as clients.

BIC: What's your biggest challenge?
: I wish I had more time so that I could help more people, but you have to be effective for the clients you already have first.

Ehrhardt: People who learned to fear the stock and bond markets in 2008 still fear it. It's hard to get people off the sidelines.

Werner: We have to sift through the junk of what they see and hear on TV; people are getting way too much information but not necessarily any answers.

BIC: What advice would you give an industry newcomer?
Alsup-Niedergerke: I always ask clients who else they work with; keeping those people in the loop is a very good idea. It keeps them involved and they're more likely to call you when a client of theirs needs help.

Ehrhardt: You've got to know the best solution to match clients' needs, not just how the products work. It took me five years to learn that!

Werner: You've got to be true to yourself; you can't fake being genuine.