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The Three-Step Formula for Business Fearlessness

In the financial services industry, advisers are surrounded by clients’ fears—fear of the market going down, fear of the economy not recovering and/or fear of making the right investment decisions, just to name a few. For some advisers, handling clients’ fears can feel like a daunting task while for others it’s all in a day’s work. For the latter, the formula for managing fear is increasing knowledge.

If this has happened to you, take comfort in knowing that your clients hired you because they like you, trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart. Prove your clients right by believing in yourself, in your integrity, your honesty and your commitment to helping them. When you focus on things that you can control, you harness the power of belief.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, “Knowledge is the antidote to fear.”

So how can you face your fears, increase your knowledge and be the adviser that your clients want you to be?

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach for building up your “business fearlessness.”

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Current Business Concerns

The first step is to get completely honest with yourself by asking, “What am I most concerned about in this business?” Sit with the question for as long as it takes until you find a truthful answer. Next, ask, “What do I need to know in order to overcome this concern?” and “Who has the information that can help me?”

Take Michael S., a veteran financial adviser with five years of experience who had noticed he was holding himself back from working with higher net-worth clients. After he asked himself these types of questions he realized that he didn’t feel qualified to help them because he hadn’t done enough research on what product and services this niche demographic would be interested in much less had done some inquiry to confirm what issues/concerns they might have. Thus, he had spent five years building a business of hundreds of clients with very little in investable assets.

Step 2: Become the Expert

The next step is to do the research and make some calls to find out who could assist you in your desire to work with a new demographic. I have found that the best way to become an expert is to find a mentor in the office who has accomplished what you would like to accomplish.

I recommended to Michael that he make a list of the most successful advisers that he knew (in his office or elsewhere) that work with high net-worth clients. Then, approach the one person who he felt closest to and ask if he could take that person to lunch or for coffee to understand more about how he/she had grown their business. Take notes about their process and research all the types of products and services they mention. Michael did this and was ready for the next step. 

Step 3: Be the Message

The final step is get your message heard! It’s one thing to know what to do but it’s another to be doing it. That’s why you need to take deliberate action steps.

Once Michael got direction from a mentor in the office, we mapped out what to say to potential clients, how to frame it, how to handle objections, what the first appointment process as well as the second appointment process. We did all of this before he ever picked up the phone to make his first prospecting call. As a result of his due diligence and efforts, within weeks he had built a huge pipeline of qualified prospects and now has a thriving practice.

Why Being a Wealth of Knowledge Works

The foundation for making any sound recommendation is based in the amount of information or knowledge that you have for your clients. The more informed you are, the more confident you will be when sharing those recommendations. Clients need, want and deserve a well-informed financial adviser. So the next time you find yourself with fearful clients or faced with fears yourself, take the time to query the reasons for your decisions, support them with facts then share this insight with your clients and watch their fears (and subsequently yours) subside.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like to have a free consultation with me to see if professional coaching is a fit for you, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions at melissa@advisersolutionsinc.com.

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.

 


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How Do You Train Someone?

Planners used to consider training as something that could be done on the job. You would hire a new employee and hope that he or she picked up the responsibilities over time. If you were lucky, the departing employee would be around long enough to train his or her replacement.

Times have changed. Today, we can’t get by with such an informal approach. Roles and functions in your firm are more specific, varied and sophisticated than they used to be. You need to hire client service employees, marketers, receptionists, paraplanners and new planners. Training in such functions can’t be left to chance—for new planners in particular. These men and women will be looking for professional growth, and you may hope to develop one of them to serve as your successor.

Still, for most planners, the need for more formalized training is problematic. Most would agree that training doesn’t contribute to short-term revenue growth. In some cases, because planners have long delegated certain administrative tasks, they may not even remember how to do them (e.g., completing paperwork to follow up on a client meeting). And training new planners has become increasingly difficult. These days, you can’t rely on bringing on a new employee who was schooled by a wirehouse. Those training programs have disappeared.

So, How Do You Train Someone?

To be effective, training requires three key criteria:

  1. Determining the outcome to be accomplished. This means defining specific objectives for the learner.
  2. Developing the curriculum, so the participant can understand and experience the content that needs to be learned.
  3. Measuring the individual’s performance to confirm that learning has actually occurred.

It is important to do all three of these well. Sometimes, we rush into training without considering what is most important to learn. Teaching how to resolve a once-a-year problem gets as much attention as the everyday situations. Sometimes, it’s hard to create the learning experience we’re looking for. And we complicate things by following several different processes for completing the same task because we lack standardized procedures within the firm. Finally, few firms test or evaluate learning.

As organizations continue to grow—particularly as we see more mergers and acquisitions—the need for formal training will increase. We will especially see it in organizations that hire inexperienced planners whom they intend to develop. In fact, that’s just one more reason why the large firms will get larger.

If you are a solo planner, you can hire someone and have him or her follow you for a year to learn the ropes. In the future, a large firm will likely hire a group of new planners to develop at the same time. Learning and curricula will need to be established and monitored. Being a planner who understands training will be a good start, but it won’t guarantee that the planner will be a good trainer.

The bottom line? Prepare to invest in training.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web

Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.


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3 Steps to Find Your Business Bearings and Go Beyond

It is not uncommon for most financial planners to not know where their business is heading at some point in their career. You be one of those planners just going through the motions of the day-by-day without any clarity about whether what you’re doing is helping your business reach its next level. However, you don’t want to become complacent and run your business to just get by.

The following is a step-by-step process to help you find your business bearings and go beyond where you are to where you want to be.

Step 1: Determine Where You are Right Now. Take an honest look at where you are in your business; are you happy with the assets you have under management, the types of clients you engage with and/or the products and services you provide? Does your business leave you fulfilled? If not, do what my client did to get his business bearings.

John P., a 15-year veteran planner client, recently realized that his real challenge wasn’t the lack of gross production he was having with his business but the lack of passion he had for his business. Somewhere along the way he had lost his purpose and it was important to redefine his purpose and reignite his passion.

Step 2: Create Your Business Vision. Create a vision of what your “ideal” business would look like. Write it down. Map it out. When you know what you want your business to become, you have a much higher probability of attaining it.

After further discussion, John shared that what motivated him to get into the business in the first place was the joy he experienced the day he helped his father understand how to choose the right asset allocation for his 401(k). Unfortunately, his father had been contributing to his company plan for ten years and never realized that he was in the most conservative mutual fund option possible—a money market fund—and as a result, he never saw any substantial growth in his portfolio.

John’s purpose was to help those who needed and wanted his help not by just selling them products but by educating them about what they should buy and why it would help them have a comfortable retirement. It was the fulfillment he got from changing his clients’ lives that fueled his passion to build his business. This became the new center of his business vision, to help as many people as he could.

Step 3: Create Your Course. Determine the best possible route to ensure that your vision becomes a reality. In other words, you can have the plan but you need actionable tasks and accountability to stick with it.

Over the years John had lost sight of his purpose and focused on trading stocks for a chosen few in order to continue living the lifestyle he’d grown accustomed to. Once he understood that incorporating financial planning and bringing in those who specialized in risk management and estate planning would help his clients gain a bigger impact towards their retirement goals, we mapped out a plan to increase his financial planning knowledge and how best to let his clients know that he was expanding the scope of his services.

Why Going Beyond is Important

He ended up telling his father’s story to his clients and many of them were very open to his new level of service. As a result, he was able to indeed effect larger and more significant outcomes than he had ever thought possible because he found financial planning, insurance and estate planning solutions to challenges he (and his clients) didn’t know they even had.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session me by emailing emailing 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.