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Adapt Your Career to the Changing Landscape

Career planning is a giant subject. Often it starts with the question: “What do I want to do with my career in the future?” The FPA and SEI research paper “Advisory Firms in 2030: The Innovation Imperative” focuses on a very different question. It asks, “Will my career still exist in the future?”

The answer is entirely dependent on how professionals and firms adapt to the changing landscape. Adapting to change is the key.

Writing the Top Performer’s Guide to Change led me deeply into change research. It’s there that the secret to adapting to change emerged. This secret is the single best career advice for our changing landscape, and here it is: develop resilience.

This is extremely simple, but not easy. Fortunately, research psychologists discovered people who are keenly adept at resilience. They call these people “thrivers.” They also uncovered the unique factors that made thrivers excel far beyond their peers. Thrivers practice three fundamental disciplines that build resilience and deliver success. Here they are:

1.) Discipline Your Mind

The resilience research is overwhelmingly clear; your mental frame determines your future. Successful thrivers maintain a discipline of optimistic realism. They look reality squarely in the face then make a realistic assessment of the situation and focus on the positive opportunity.

Develop optimistic realism in three steps:

  • Ask yourself: “What’s true?” and “Where is my opportunity?”
  • Make a personal mission statement from both answers.
  • Push the mental repeat button on your mission statement daily.

This technique directly immunizes against the common mental traps that kill positive resilience. It’s natural and normal for people to struggle with four poisonous perceptions. Catching them before they take hold is important. Be on the lookout for thoughts and feelings that make the situation seem:

  • Permanent: Things appear like they’re never going to change for the better. You’re on a seemingly endless road of struggle.
  • Personal: You feel like the epicenter of the problem. This often appears as a feeling of inadequacy.
  • Pervasive: The negative circumstance bleeds into a pessimism about life in general.
  • Powerless: Your confidence in making a positive impact is greatly reduced. You feel largely powerless in the situation.

Most people struggle with some or all of these pessimistic perceptions during times of transition. Humans don’t like change. It interrupts stability and security. Feeling pessimistic is the normal path. Thrivers learned to resist and disciplined themselves to overcome this natural human tendency. We can do the same. Immunize yourself with the mental discipline of a realistic and positive mission statement. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

2.) Focus on Your Strengths

Thrivers also have a habit of focusing on their strengths. In case you think that thrivers might have it easy, let me provide some context. Thrivers were studied specifically because they had positively overcome massive challenges including criminal violence, domestic abuse, war trauma and the like. Despite massive hits, thrivers zeroed in on strengths rather than losses.

A great technique to articulate and emphasize your strengths is to make the following three lists:

  • I Am: List all your intrinsic strengths, the characteristics, qualities and personality traits that help you achieve. There is great power in remembering and leveraging your natural gifts.
  • I Can: List all the skills, abilities and achievements you’ve acquired over the years, both professional and personal. You can deploy your accumulated experience across multiple new opportunities.
  • I Have: List all the resources available to you. Resources come in many forms, tangible and intangible. Don’t forget to include all the people who are willing and able to help you.

After you develop the lists of I am, I can and I have strengths, you’ll feel much more optimistic. Then use those lists to develop a game plan to employ your strengths to your best advantage. Revisit the lists often. They’re a tremendous confidence booster.

3.) Don’t Go It Alone

One of the most striking things about the thriver research is that no thrivers achieved alone. Every thriver intentionally developed and relied on supporters and advocates. They did a great deal of individual work to achieve and recognized their need for help. The mavericks and lone wolfs did not succeed. It takes a great deal of humility and courage to ask for help. Thrivers had that courage and it paid off.

The FPA and SEI research paper focuses on the need for innovation, in other words, the need for change. Embrace change and achieve success with positive and flexible resilience.


A business psychology and productivity coach, Barbara Kay serves clients through coaching, consulting and speaking on growth, productivity, teams, relationships, change, women and leadership. Kay speaks at conferences, builds custom workshops, consults on growth and coaches professionals nationwide. As a Woman Business Enterprise, Barbara Kay Coaching is a certified diverse supplier. She is a coach in the FPA Coaches Corner.

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Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download your copy of the whitepaper here.  


Making Social Media Work for You

“I need to start using social media in my practice.”

Is that what you’re telling yourself? It’s a great place to start, but there’s a lot more to social media success than just “being there.” The first question I ask planners to consider is, “Why am I using (or planning to use) social media as part of my marketing strategy?”

If it’s because you want to let the world know your political stance or complain about something, it’s probably not the best use of your time (on or off the clock). But if it’s to build a community, get the word out about your business and show you are an expert in financial planning—then social media can be an extremely valuable tool! It’s all in how you make your plan, execute it and stick with it.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips below to help you get started.

Social Media Has Its Place…

…But that doesn’t mean it should run your schedule. It’s so easy to get sucked into your Facebook timeline, or deep into the string of replies to a tweet. Responding in a timely manner is important—and now platforms like Facebook track your response rate—but don’t beat yourself up trying to answer every message or comment 15 seconds after it comes through.

An easy solution is to turn on notifications for direct messages, which is where most people go when they are seeking help from you or your business. For comments that come through, set aside a daily time block to monitor your page(s). I recommend 10 minutes; unless you are a social media superstar, that is likely enough time to ensure that you are seeing all of the comments that have been published on each of your posts.

It’s also equally important to have an established process in place to handle complaints, mentions and comments on your social media platforms. Whether it’s the CEO or a part-time intern who is monitoring the account, you want everybody to be on the same page and know when to respond, and how to respond when it’s appropriate.

Create a Lasting Connection

Social media offers a great way to help people understand who you, and your business, really are. If your customers are really buying “you,” what do you want and need them to know ? Use your social media platforms to connect with your audience and have a discussion. Keep asking them questions and producing different types of content—if you pay attention, you’ll start to notice patterns and understand the topics that truly matter to your followers.

Did you post something that got absolutely no engagement? Take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Social media is a process of trial and error: test, gather data and adjust your strategy.

Consistency is Critical

Raise your hand if you think consistency is important. If you don’t see your hand reflected in the computer monitor, we need to take this offline. (And if you’re the guy who raised his hand on the subway, don’t worry—you’re definitely not the weirdest one on that train.)

When it comes to social media, consistency is key. It doesn’t matter whether you post every day or once per week—being consistent builds trust with your audience. An easy way to keep track of your content is through a calendar. It doesn’t matter if you use an Excel spreadsheet or a sophisticated project management tool; find what works for you and use it. You can stop at Level 1, or go 100 Levels deep – it all depends on your skill level, interest and the time you can put toward social media. Here’s what Levels 1, 10 and 100 might look like:

Level 1: I want to post on each platform once a week. How do I make it look like I’m active on social media?

Determine the platforms you want to be active on and spread out your content. Use the ideas in Level 10 below for content generation, and set up a simple calendar like this:

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Level 10: I want to post on each platform once per day. But how in the world will I create enough content for that?!

It’s a lot easier than you think! All your content doesn’t have to be original blogs that are thousands of words each. Here’s one example:

Level 10 Calendar.png

Build fun stuff about you and your company into your social media plan. People want to know about you; they can easily learn about your products and services through your website and by contacting you.

Level 100: Alright, I’ve got all this down. I want to post on multiple social media platforms multiple times a day.

Awesome! Remember how I said you could use an Excel spreadsheet for your content calendar? If you didn’t believe me, now you should! I love Google Docs, and use it for scheduling content across the Financial Planning Association’s social media platforms.

Here’s my outline:

Level 100

It’s color-coded by type of content. Each type of content goes out the same day each week (consistency is key). I sprinkle in Instagram posts throughout the calendar, based on what content I think will work well there (it’s not a huge platform for us, so I don’t put as much attention there).

A content writer I work with swears by Airtable—I’ve used it with her, and it is a neat platform. Ultimately, it boils down to what works best for you and what will keep you organized and on track.

I’ll close with a few of my key things to remember about social media:

  1. A consistent, regular presence is key.
  2. Make sure your profile info is completed and detailed; people often go to social media instead of Google to learn more about you or how to get in touch with you. Just because something is not my favorite platform doesn’t mean I would take my company off it.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Case in point: Instagram not updating anybody’s feeds after the iOS update earlier this year. It took at least a week before I saw any new content in my feed…which means I didn’t see any new content from the businesses I follow.
  4. Create a content calendar—it makes your life easier!
  5. Your social media posts, retweets, likes, favorites (all of it) is reflective of YOU, your beliefs and your business. Be intentional with what you like and what you post.

As a final note, social media is a free* platform to tell your story. Why the asterisk? Because nothing is truly free. Organic content costs you your time, and paid advertising costs you time and money.

The takeaway? Be intentional with every piece of content you create and post.

Now, get out there and hashtag make it a great day!

Mari Shirley Headshot

Mari Shirley has worked in communications and marketing for a decade, mostly in the financial industry. She started her career in public relations at the University of Georgia Athletic Association (Go Dawgs!), and before joining the Financial Planning Association, she was a brand marketer for Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and SmartVestor programs. At FPA, she focuses on social media strategy and brand and digital marketing.


It Is All About Perception: Live Beyond Your Own Business Limitations

Years ago a rookie financial adviser (me) new to the area asked a veteran colleague and friend, “What is the wealthiest street in the city of Milwaukee?”

“Well, that’s easy, it’s Lake Shore Drive because that is where all of the money and mansions are, however, I would not prospect them,” he told me. “They all already have an adviser.”

Many weeks later, the veteran stopped me as I rushed by him on the way out the door.

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” the veteran asked.

“I’m going to see my client at his home on Lake Shore Drive,” I replied.

T.S. Eliot said it best when he said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Risk has many definitions. To my co-worker, it implied taking time to prospect an affluent niche that he believed would most certainly reject him. To me, the rookie, there was no risk in attempting to prospect them, since no attempt at all would absolutely result in failure.

My point today is that the reality of business risk is really about how our perceptions dictate what we believe is possible. The lesson learned should be: don’t limit yourself.

The following is a brief outline of how you can live beyond any business limitations you might have set up for yourself.

Identify Your Business Risk

It was a simple thought, “I’m not going to get rejected by people who don’t have money,” that led me down a path of forming my belief system around who I was going to prospect. In other words, I didn’t care about rejection, I cared about wasting time with unqualified prospects.

Unfortunately, it took some time to realize that although I was closing these new wealthy clients, they were only willing to invest a small portion of their assets with me; thus, my updated business risk was in not being confident enough to put together comprehensive financial plan, but merely pushing a product.

Model the Masters

Once you’ve identified any challenge, it’s important to look for the solutions. In this case, my solution came in the form of a conversation with my then branch manager who simply said, “You’ve got 500 accounts. You don’t need 500 more with the same average asset per account; what you need is a minimum account size. I recommend from this day forward that you never take an account under $100K.”

He was a former top producer turned branch manager and to me he walked on water. So, it didn’t take long before I picked up the phone and cold-called business owners inserting the phrase into my introduction, “I tend to work with business owners who have $100K or more in investable assets.”

Create a New Reality

Change can be a scary thing until you realize that not changing will cause you more risk. Take for instance what happened just 30 minutes after I started using the aforementioned phrase. The 30-plus year veteran business owner that I was speaking to replied, “I know what you mean, I don’t have time for small accounts either.”

And, just like that everything changed for me. I was no longer afraid to position myself as an adviser with a minimum account size. In fact, I embraced and was proud of it.

Become the Mentor

Now, as a business consultant/coach I’ve had the pleasure to help others break though the reality of their own business risk. Take Sandra P. a 30-year veteran client of mine who agreed to set her account minimums at $500K, then at $1 million and later at $3 million. It wasn’t until she gathered $10 million of new assets in one month that she realized how limited her thinking had previously been.

Why Having a System to Breakthrough Your Business Risk Works

The reason why having a system to break through your business risk works is because it helps you be aware of what those risks are, then by modeling your mentors it supports a paradigm shift of what is truly possible.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.