A Comprehensive Guide: Everything Finanical Advisors Need to Know About FMOs

Chloe Schmidt

By: Chloe Schmidt, Marketing Consultant at Asset Marketing Systems

Written On: September 12th, 2023

Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs) play a crucial role in the financial advisory industry, providing support, resources, and services to financial advisors. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything that you need to know about FMOs. From understanding what FMOs are and their functions to the benefits they offer, we will cover all the essential aspects of FMOs and their significance in the advisory landscape.

What are FMOs?

An FMO acts as an intermediary between financial advisors and various financial institutions, such as insurance companies, investment firms, and product manufacturers. It serves as a distribution channel and a platform that connects advisors with a wide array of financial products and services. FMOs are often independent entities, distinct from the financial institutions they collaborate with, and they operate by forming strategic partnerships and contractual agreements with those institutions.

Benefits of Using an FMO

By contracting an FMO, financial advisors can gain several advantages, including:

  • Product Access and Expertise: One of the primary functions of an FMO is to provide financial advisors with access to a broad range of financial products and solutions. These may include insurance policies, annuities, mutual funds, retirement plans, and other investment vehicles. FMOs establish relationships with multiple product manufacturers, enabling advisors to offer their clients a diverse selection of options to meet their unique financial goals and needs.

  • Training and Education: FMOs play a crucial role in the professional development of financial advisors. They offer training programs, workshops, webinars, and educational resources to enhance advisors’ knowledge and skills. This includes product training, industry updates, regulatory compliance education, sales and marketing techniques, and practice management strategies. By providing ongoing training, FMOs help advisors stay current with industry trends, regulatory changes, and best practices.

  • Compliance Support and Regulatory Guidance: FMOs assist financial advisors in navigating complex compliance requirements and regulatory obligations. They provide guidance on adhering to industry regulations, maintaining ethical standards, and ensuring compliance with licensing and registration requirements. FMOs may offer compliance resources, access to compliance experts, and assistance in implementing compliant practices to mitigate regulatory risks.

  • Marketing and Lead Generation: FMOs support financial advisors in marketing their services and generating leads. They provide marketing materials, branding support, and lead generation strategies to help advisors effectively promote their expertise and attract potential clients. FMOs may offer co-branded marketing materials, digital marketing support, social media strategies, and lead management tools to help advisors expand their client base.

  • Technology and Tools: FMOs leverage technology to streamline operations and enhance the efficiency of financial advisors’ practices. They may offer access to client management systems, financial planning software, proposal generation tools, and other technology platforms. By providing such resources, FMOs help advisors automate processes, improve client engagement, and enhance the overall client experience.

  • Research and Market Insights: FMOs provide financial advisors with research reports, market insights, and industry analysis. These resources help advisors stay informed about market trends, economic indicators, investment opportunities, and regulatory changes. By accessing timely and relevant information, advisors can make informed decisions, develop investment strategies, and provide valuable advice to their clients.

  • Networking and Collaboration: FMOs facilitate networking opportunities for financial advisors. They organize conferences, workshops, and events where advisors can connect with peers, share best practices, and learn from industry experts. FMOs may also establish online communities and forums to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional growth among advisors.

  • Business Development Support: FMOs assist financial advisors in growing and managing their businesses. They offer guidance on business planning, practice management strategies, client acquisition and retention, succession planning, and expanding service offerings. FMOs may provide mentorship programs, business coaching, and resources to help advisors optimize their practice operations and achieve their growth objectives.

Selecting the Right FMO for Your Business

As there are several types of FMOs, selecting the right one is a crucial decision for your business. The right FMO can provide valuable support, resources, and opportunities to help you enhance your practice and serve your clients effectively. Here are some key considerations for you when selecting an FMO:

  • Assess Your Needs and Goals: Begin by assessing your specific needs and goals as a financial advisor. Consider the type of products and services you offer, your target market, and the support areas where you require assistance. Identify the gaps in your current practice and determine how an FMO can help fill those gaps. Having a clear understanding of your needs and goals will guide you in selecting an FMO that aligns with your requirements.

  • Evaluate FMO Services and Offerings: Look into the services and offerings provided by different FMOs. Assess the range of financial products they offer, the level of product expertise and training provided, compliance support, marketing and lead generation resources, technology tools, research and market insights, networking opportunities, and business development support. Evaluate how these services align with your specific needs and how they can enhance your practice.

  • Reputation and Track Record: Research the reputation and track record of the FMOs you are considering. Look for FMOs with a solid reputation in the industry, positive reviews and testimonials from other financial advisors, and a track record of success in supporting advisors’ practices. Consider factors such as their stability, longevity, and relationships with product manufacturers. An FMO with a strong reputation is more likely to provide reliable support and deliver on its promises.

  • Compliance and Regulatory Considerations: Ensure that the FMO you choose has a strong focus on compliance and adheres to regulatory standards. Verify their compliance processes, policies, and procedures. Consider whether the FMO offers regulatory guidance, compliance training, and resources to help you navigate the complex regulatory landscape. Working with an FMO that prioritizes compliance can help mitigate regulatory risks and ensure ethical business practices.

  • Technology and Support Systems: Evaluate the technology and support systems provided by the FMO. Consider the efficiency and user-friendliness of their client management systems, financial planning software, proposal generation tools, and other technology platforms. Assess whether their systems integrate well with your existing infrastructure and workflows. Additionally, inquire about the availability and responsiveness of their support team for technical assistance and troubleshooting.

  • Network and Affiliations: Consider the network and affiliations of the FMO. Look for an FMO that has established relationships with reputable product manufacturers, financial institutions, and industry organizations. An FMO with a strong network can provide you with broader access to products, better support, and potential networking and collaboration opportunities with other financial advisors.

  • Fee Structures and Compensation Models: Evaluate the fee structures and compensation models offered by the FMO. Understand how the FMO is compensated for the services it provides and how it aligns with your financial goals. Consider any upfront fees, ongoing fees, and commissions associated with the products and services offered by the FMO. Ensure that the compensation structure is transparent and fair.

  • Contractual Agreements and Terms: Carefully review the contractual agreements and terms offered by the FMO. Pay attention to contract duration, termination clauses, non-compete agreements, and any exclusivity requirements. Understand the terms and conditions of the agreement and ensure that they align with your business objectives and long-term plans.

Read our article on questions you need to ask before contracting an FMO.

Best Practices for Establishing an FMO and Financial Advisor Relationship

Establishing effective communication with your FMO is crucial for a successful and productive partnership. Here are some best practices that you should implement to establish clear and efficient communication with your FMO:

  • Understand the FMO’s Communication Channels: Familiarize yourself with the various communication channels offered by your FMO. This may include email, phone, online portals, or dedicated communication platforms. Understand the preferred method of communication for different types of inquiries or issues. Knowing the available channels will help you reach out to the appropriate contacts within the FMO and ensure that your messages are received and addressed promptly.

  • Maintain Regular Contact: Establish a habit of maintaining regular contact with your FMO. This could include scheduled check-ins, periodic updates, or routine communications. Regular communication helps build a strong working relationship and keeps both parties informed about important updates, changes, and opportunities. It also allows you to address any concerns, seek guidance, and receive timely support from the FMO.

  • Be Clear and Concise in Your Communications: When communicating with your FMO, strive to be clear, concise, and specific in your messages. Clearly articulate your needs, questions, or issues to ensure that the FMO fully understands your requirements. Avoid ambiguous or vague communication that can lead to misunderstandings or delays in resolving any concerns. Provide all necessary information and context to facilitate efficient and effective communication.

  • Utilize FMO Resources and Support Channels: Take advantage of the resources and support channels provided by your FMO. Familiarize yourself with the available documentation, training materials, FAQs, and knowledge base that the FMO offers. These resources can help address common questions or provide guidance on various topics. Additionally, leverage the designated support channels, such as dedicated phone lines or online support, when you require assistance or have specific inquiries.

  • Attend FMO Training and Educational Events: Stay engaged with your FMO by actively participating in their training and educational events. These events provide opportunities to deepen your product knowledge, enhance your skills, and stay updated on industry trends and regulatory changes. By attending these events, you not only gain valuable insights but also foster communication and networking with the FMO representatives and other financial advisors in the network.

  • Provide Feedback and Suggestions: Actively provide feedback and suggestions to your FMO. Share your experiences, highlight areas of improvement, and offer suggestions for enhancing the services or support provided. Constructive feedback can help the FMO understand your needs better and make necessary adjustments to meet the requirements of financial advisors. This open line of communication fosters a collaborative relationship and demonstrates your commitment to mutual growth.

  • Attend FMO Meetings and Conferences: Take advantage of opportunities to attend FMO meetings, conferences, or events where you can meet face-to-face with FMO representatives and engage in meaningful discussions. These interactions facilitate relationship-building, allow for in-depth conversations, and provide a platform to express your needs, concerns, or ideas directly. By participating actively, you strengthen your connection with the FMO and establish a stronger communication foundation.

  • Maintain Professionalism and Respect: Finally, maintain professionalism and respect in all your communications with the FMO. Treat FMO representatives and staff with courtesy and professionalism, even during challenging situations. Effective communication relies on a foundation of mutual respect and understanding, which contributes to a positive working relationship with your FMO.

Challenges and Considerations

While partnering with an FMO can bring numerous benefits to financial advisors, there are also potential challenges that you may encounter. It’s important to be aware of these challenges and develop strategies to address them effectively. Here are some common challenges that you can expect when working with an FMO:

  • Compatibility and Fit: Not all FMOs may align perfectly with the specific needs, goals, and business models of every financial advisor. Finding an FMO that is compatible with your practice and meets your specific requirements can be a challenge. It’s important to thoroughly evaluate and compare different FMOs to ensure that their services, products, support, and values align with your practice and client base.

  • Product Restrictions and Limitations: Some FMOs may have specific restrictions or limitations on the products they offer. This can limit the range of solutions you can provide to your clients. It’s crucial to understand the product portfolio of the FMO and assess whether it aligns with the diverse needs and preferences of your clients. Consider whether the FMO’s product offerings are comprehensive enough to meet your clients’ requirements and allow you to offer holistic financial solutions.

  • Transition and Implementation Challenges: Transitioning to a new FMO or implementing new systems, processes, or technology can present challenges. There may be a learning curve involved in adapting to new platforms, workflows, or compliance procedures. It’s important to communicate with the FMO and seek support and training during the transition period. Proper planning, training, and open communication can help mitigate these challenges and ensure a smooth transition.

  • Communication and Responsiveness: Communication challenges can arise when working with an FMO, such as delays in response to inquiries, difficulty reaching the appropriate contacts, or miscommunication of information. It’s important to establish clear channels of communication and set expectations for response times and modes of communication. Proactive communication, setting up regular check-ins, and maintaining open lines of communication can help address these challenges.

  • Compliance and Regulatory Considerations: Compliance is a critical aspect of the financial industry, and FMOs play a role in providing compliance support to financial advisors. However, differences in interpretations, changes in regulations, or compliance complexities can present challenges. It’s important to stay informed about regulatory updates and maintain open communication with the FMO regarding compliance expectations, training, and support.

  • Limited Flexibility and Independence: Working with an FMO may require financial advisors to adhere to certain processes, systems, or business practices that are mandated by the FMO. This can limit the advisor’s flexibility and independence in managing their practice. It’s essential to assess the level of flexibility and autonomy offered by the FMO and determine if it aligns with your preferred operating style and business objectives.

  • Compensation and Fee Structures: Different FMOs may have varying compensation structures and fee arrangements. Understanding the compensation models and fee structures offered by the FMO is crucial to ensure alignment with your financial goals and profitability. It’s important to evaluate the costs associated with working with the FMO and assess whether the benefits provided justify the expenses incurred.

  • Limited Control over Product Offerings: Financial advisors may have limited control over the specific products and manufacturers associated with the FMO. This can impact the advisor’s ability to customize their product offerings or access products from preferred manufacturers. It’s important to assess the range of products offered by the FMO and ensure they meet the needs of your clients.

Read our article on frequently asked questions advisors have about FMOs.

Why Asset?

Asset has made a name for itself in the financial sector, and it speaks for itself. Financial advisors that join our family unlock a plethora of advantages, including:

  • Expertise: Asset was founded by Rick Metcalfe, a pioneer in the financial industry who first seized the opportunity to help independent advisors grow their businesses. Now run by his daughter, Jennifer Schendel, Asset has over 20 years of proven experience.

  • Business Coaching: Each of our business consultants have decades of financial experience and share their knowledge with advisors to help them exceed their business development goals. Our Business Consultants will help keep you informed on changing regulations and financial products while facilitating carrier interaction issues and, of course, helping you to find new clients to work with while retaining and growing your current client base. Having a dedicated business coach to listen, guide, and provide insight is key to growing your practice and giving your clients the best results. Learn more about our business consultants here.

  • Marketing Resources: As a business, it’s important to tell your story. Your public identity helps build trust and credibility with your clients, and with the right resources, your communications strategy can take your business to new production peaks. Marketing mentors, creative consultants, content creators—we are the full-service, back-end lead generation and advertising team for our financial advisors. Learn more about what our marketing team can do for you.

  • Exclusive Vendor Discounts: If you have a marketing task that we can’t fulfill in-house, we know someone who can. We’ve partnered with multiple marketing vendors to offer the latest lead generation and lead nurturing tools and technology for your business—all at a discounted price. Asset’s advisor-specific solutions are at your fingertips.

  • Company Events: At Asset, we pride ourselves on our community of advisors and our culture of sharing. By hosting regular conferences, webinars, and trainings — we continue to build upon one another’s unique experiences. Our annual Sales and Networking forum brings advisors together from all over the country to listen and learn from one another. With special guest speakers, it’s an opportunity sure to inspire activity.

    To show our appreciation, Asset hosts an annual REACH destination gathering for our top contracted producers. We also offer extended, special addition trips for our top five advisors each year. Some past destinations include Tuscany and Santa Barbara. Check out our past events here.

  • Educational Trainings: Here at Asset, we take your professional development personally. Whether you like to learn online, in-person, or with a like-minded group, Asset has got you covered with trainings offered year-round with our experts! Check out the educational trainings we offer.

  • Support Teams: With a full-service, back-office support team, all of your business needs are met with enthusiasm, integrity, and compassion.

    • Our Annuity & Life sales team takes a consultative approach spending the time needed to build out extensive plans for your clients. They are the human encyclopedias of the insurance business, ready to help you every step of the sales process.

    • Our Advisor Relations team is your first point-of-contact that can help answer all of your questions to determine if we are a fit.

    • Our Licensing & Commissions experts navigate the appointment and commission process with insurance companies to ensure a smooth transition when onboarding and are here to assist you with all of your contracting, appointment, and commission needs.

    • Our New Business team guides you through the daily interactions with insurance companies to ensure a smooth experience and faster turn arounds. Our team is available for impaired risk assessments, assistance with forms and applications, application scrubbing and proactive case management.

      Learn more about our support teams.

By partnering with the right FMO, financial advisors can access valuable resources, enhance their practice, and provide exceptional service to their clients. Through constant support, guidance, and market insight, Asset can help bring your practice to the next level.

Have any questions or ready to get started? Contact us today!

Are We A Good Fit?

Before we can begin helping your business production reach new heights, we want to make sure that we are the right FMO for you and your needs as a financial advisor. Contact us today, and let's talk.