Creating a “Triple ‘A’ Rated” Business

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Over 100 years ago, John Moody saw the value in using a letter grading system when rating a company’s risk level. Today, the Moody’s Corporations long-term obligation bond ratings are made up of two major categories—investment grade and speculative grade (also known as high yield or junk bonds). This rating system spans from “AAA” rated, which is the highest quality with the lowest degree of risk, to “C” rated, which is the lowest quality and are typically in default with the highest degree of risk.

Years ago, I realized the value of using a letter grading system for your business. However, my system was not so much about rating a company’s risk level as it was rating the process to help financial advisers get to “the next level” in their business.

Often, financial advisers find themselves busy working in their businesses and not on their businesses. The day flies by, then a week , then a month and even years pass without ever reaching their true potential.

Achieving success is about awareness, action and accountability. In order for any real change to take place you must first be committed to the following formula for your own success…

Awareness + Action + Accountability =Success (“the next level”)

Many times, financial advisers get awareness by reading books, going to workshops or listening to audio tapes about how to be more effective in their businesses. While all of these are a great beginning to becoming more fully aware, they do not necessarily result in ensuring a great ending. The reason is because those types of resources typically do not create lasting change. In order to get to the next level you must take action, and in the right direction. However, action alone will not create lasting sustainability without accountability.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each step in this success formula:

  • Awareness: Finding awareness of how to run a much more efficient business can come from a mentor, branch manager or business coach.
  • Action: Once you have a clearer awareness of what some of your challenges and solutions are, it is important to take action! Remember, you get out of your business what you put into it.

    Sometimes, fear of rejection, anxiety and avoidant behaviors hold a financial adviser back from taking action. When you feel this way, just remember that each day spent wasted on unimportant and non-urgent activities is a day that you cannot get back. If you are a newer adviser, you are probably on some type of salary for some period of time. Take action today, build a pipeline and let time be on your side.

  • Accountability: If you want to have consistent results, you must create an accountability with someone. You may want to develop some type of weekly accountability meeting with a colleague, mentor, branch manager or business coach.

Now that you understand this rating system, you need to ask yourself the tough question: “What is my business rating?” Is your business rating an “A,” you have awareness of what to do, but are not doing it? Or, is your business rating an “AA,” you have awareness and you are taking action? If it is, be careful—you might run into success and then unconsciously slow yourself down because you have no accountability. Or, is your business rating an “AAA,” you know what to do, you are doing it and you have designed rewards and punishments for achieving or not achieving daily goals?

Daniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions Inc.
St. Paul, Minn.

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