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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.  

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Focus on the Future: How to Be A Successful Financial Planner in 2030

Defining how to create a successful practice in 2030 is an ambitious undertaking, one that probably makes you uncomfortable.

There are forces at work that are changing not just the landscape of our profession, but the very lives we live and the way we live them. Today’s consumers have been conditioned to receive precisely what they want, at the best possible price, quickly and conveniently. Amazon, and businesses like it, are reshaping the landscape and will continue to set the expectations by which you will be judged in the future.

Ten years ago, few prospects met with multiple advisers before choosing one. Fewer still worked with advisers remotely, or were comfortable with digital experiences. Ten years ago, there was no thought of serving the mass market profitably, much less with specialized services. Ten years ago, ‘robo adviser’ wasn’t a term. Fintech wasn’t a common word, and ‘digital experience’ meant turning on your computer.

Provide Remotability

Technology is also empowering a trend I see being a major force in the future, which I call remotability. Remotability is a business’s ability to operate successfully without its staff or clients needing to be in the same physical location.

A growing number of firms work successfully with remote clients who never come into their office. Many are relying on virtual staff, paraplanners and even virtual advisers to keep up with the demands of growth in a competitive labor market. Remotability is enabling advisers to create a new sense of freedom by empowering them to live and work from anywhere—or to at least enjoy long stretches of time in other locales.

Provide Positive Experiences

Even though consumers expect to get what they want faster, better and (often) cheaper, there is a growing need to engage and connect on a more meaningful level. This need for connection is driving a shift to an experience economy (the economy following the agrarian economy, industrial economy and service economy, first written about by B. Joseph Pine, II, and James H. Gilmore in the Harvard Business Review), one in which firms must create and orchestrate experiences so that the feeling and memory of the experience becomes the product. The value is the experience or outcome that is generated.

Between now and 2030, you can expect these trends to continue with full force and ferocity. Inevitably, there will be a few not-yet-known forces emerging along the way.

Provide Specialized Experience

The most successful advisers in 2030 will be the ones who recognize that the model for the future is simple: advisers must find a systematized way to deliver a highly specialized experience.

While the methods to use these forces to one’s advantage are readily available, the professions’ ability to evolve hasn’t kept pace with the trends reshaping the future. The simple reality is that it’s hard to get ahead when you’re struggling to keep up.

As you prepare for a successful practice in 2030, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the marketplace that will define your success, but rather your mindset.

A study by the Cambridge Institute of Technology showed that success is driven by three key factors: environment, skill and mindset. The staggering point of this research is that 80 percent of your success is determined by mindset, and only 20 percent by the methods you use.

Operate from a Success Mindset State

The advisers I work with tend to operate from two mindset states: a success state and a survival state. The success state is marked by clarity, confidence and committed actions. The survival state is marked by fear, uncertainty and failure to follow through. Anyone who has ever taken a referral that doesn’t fit, accepted a client below their minimum, discounted a fee or kept a difficult client has done so from a survival state.

The biggest challenge in the decade ahead isn’t the trends; it’s the crisis of confidence that they will bring in their wake. This crisis of confidence keeps advisers out of their success state and causes them to make compromises that cost mightily in both subtle and substantive ways. The challenge for most of us isn’t that we don’t want more; it’s that the tongue in our mouth and the tongue in our shoes aren’t moving in the same direction.

When you harness your mindset into a success state, you can radically accelerate the speed and ease with which you succeed. If you master your mindset now, you’ll be able to turn seemingly overwhelming hurdles into headwinds you harness to your advantage regardless what the future holds.

Stephanie Bogan

Stephanie Bogan is CEO of Educe, Inc. and serves as the Financial Planner Mindset Coach in the FPA Coaches Corner. She works with financial planning professionals by using the latest in neuroscience. She helps financial planners get in the right mindset so they can make profound change in their businesses.


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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.  

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Best of the Blog 2019: Part II

We hope you got everything on your wish list this holiday season and that your credit card is starting to cool down from all that shopping.

We got what we wanted this year—lots of great content from our writers. Here is a continuation of the top 10 most-read posts of 2019.

In case you forgot what the first five were, see this post. Here’s the rest:

6.) Three Ways the SECURE Act Will Impact Clients with Stretch IRAs

This article by Matt Sommer of Janus Henderson Investors dove into how the SECURE Act would affect clients with Stretch IRAs. Key takeaways regarding the Stretch IRA provision include a new 10-year period for non-spouse beneficiaries, existing stretch IRAs are grandfathered, and there are exceptions to the new rules. Stay tuned to the Journal of Financial Planning’s February issue for a deeper dive into what the SECURE Act means for you and your clients.

7.) “Buying” College in the 21st Century: Clients Should Search for Colleges They Can Afford

You wouldn’t pick out your dream car and then ask how much it costs, right? Robert J. Falcon, CFP®, CPA/PFS, of College Funding Solutions, LLC, said you shouldn’t do that for college either. This information can help you help your clients figure out how to “buy” a college and pick something that will give students a good return on their investment.

8.) How to Write Like Someone Might Actually Read Your Work

FPA’s membership and marketing director, Dan Martin, lays out the writing tips that have helped him in his career, including writing like you speak, reading your work out loud and not sterilizing your work when you edit.

9.) 3 Steps to Mastering the Art of Excellence for Financial Planners

Daniel C. Finley of Advisor Solutions explores how to create excellence by continuously learning and honing your skills until excellence becomes a habit. He suggests committing to a new level of greatness, model after those who have mastered their craft and map out your milestones so you can see your progress.

10.) What You Should Know Before Leaving Your Firm

Freelance writer Sarah Li Cain penned this piece for FPA’s Next Generation Planner, an app-only publication for the next generation of financial planners, regarding the correct protocol for leaving a firm so you don’t burn bridges or do anything that could get you into legal trouble.

That’s all, folks. One more Tuesday in 2019, which means one more post, then we look forward to seeing what our writers have in store for 2020!

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Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn