In true entrepreneurial fashion, most financial advisers excel at the technical side of their business, financial planning and investment management and other areas. Yet, there still exists a bastion of mediocrity where excellence has yet to take hold in the financial profession: running a business.
In my experience, there are two kinds of advisers: the “great business owner” (GBO) and the “great financial adviser” (GFA). Too many advisers, including successful ones, are leaving opportunity—in income and lifestyle—on the table as a result.
When speaking, the hallway conversations are dominated by common culprits: creating and managing growth, existing in the operational equivalent of Groundhog Day (same issues repeated with no real resolution), frustration with financial results (common among advisers with the highest incomes), a lack of time to do what needs to be done, reactive client service, poor scalability, staffing challenges, a desire for a better quality of life and a burning desire to “get it right” because the potential for what could be is so great if only these challenges could be overcome.
The greatest obstacle I see to advisers running more successful practices is their business mindset. For all practical purposes, you are the CEO of your practice (or your client base if you work for a firm). Whether you are a solo or two-person practice, or a partner in a larger firm, your mindset determines your level of business mastery.
Many advisers don’t have the time, talent or temperament to develop a business owner mindset on their own, so it is no surprise that intentions are better than execution when it comes to running a firm. This begs the question, what can advisers who wish to be GBOs as well as GFAs do to develop a business mastermind? Here are some simple steps to get you started on the process:
- Mapping: You must be able to clarify and define your vision in order to achieve it. Defining a clear vision of your ideal firm and experience (running your firm or working in one) is an essential step in achieving your desired outcome. This is as true for strategic issues (e.g., double in the next three years, grow through acquisition) as it is for tactical ones (e.g., have a service model that delivers value and profits, develop a path to partnership). It’s not just about goals, it’s about mapping the path between your current practice, income and lifestyle and the one you want to create.
- Mindset: Neuroscience and performance psychology have concluded that success is 80 percent mindset, with environment and skills contributing the remaining 20 percent. If you keep plugging away trying to improve your situation and find yourself facing persistent and seemingly invisible forces, mindset is likely involved. Einstein said, “No problem can be solved with the same consciousness that created it.” With the right mindset, you start to think like a business owner, then then act like a business owner. The results will follow.
- Methods: How you run your practice day-to-day, the strategies you engage, your decision-making process, plus the tools and techniques you use to address client services, sales and marketing, staff management, operations, analyzing capacity and profitability, systems to ensure a seamless client experience, (and many more) are essential to running an efficient, profitable and satisfying practice. Best practices aren’t the driver of success, but they are the high-octane fuel in the car that helps you reach your destination. A good idea poorly implemented is no better than no idea.
Having a business mindset isn’t intuitive to many advisers, but the information and insights gleaned by challenging and expanding your mindset has the ability to expand your success in ways that empower you to achieve greater levels of focus, fun, freedom and financial success in your firm.
You had a vision for your practice when you began and, regardless your levels of success and satisfaction, the odds are that you have a bigger, better one percolating in your mind. The question is, are you prepared to expand your business mindset in order to radically expand your success?
Stephanie Bogan is a nationally recognized CEO Coach and Business Consultant with 20 years coaching financial advisers and institutions. The founder of Quantuvis Consulting (sold to Fortune 200), in 2017 she launched her new firm, Educe Inc. To learn more or inquire about speaking, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bogan is also a coach of the “Financial Planner’s Mindset” Coaches Corner from the Financial Planning Association.