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The Value of Time and Experience

I recently visited an adviser whose business had grown very quickly. In a five-year period, he went from one employee to five and his production tripled, easily putting him in the seven-figure range. In comparison with many other advisers with similar businesses, this adviser is 15 years younger, on average and has a commensurate 15 fewer years of industry experience. Listening to his business challenges—especially those having to do with human resources—gave me pause. Did this adviser have more people problems than most or was something else going on?

Getting Better Vs. Getting Used to Things
In considering this young adviser’s situation, I believed one of two things was going on:

  1. He had not yet developed the skills necessary to manage staff, which was actually contributing to his issues.
  2. He had not yet recognized that people issues are an ongoing component of managing a business.

For example, the adviser felt that he needed to revise job descriptions and re-create a compensation system that would more specifically motivate the behaviors he desired. He wanted his employees to take more responsibility for producing error-free work, instead of depending on him to review their work and catch errors. The issue extended beyond his support staff. He had recently brought on a staff CFP® and discovered that the process of guiding and mentoring the young woman required a significant investment of time to help her understand how to apply financial knowledge and theory to clients’ reality. That’s not to mention the time he was spending helping her evolve business development skills. When I asked how much time he was investing in managing the business, he said 50 percent.

But is that really too much? Comparing his story with that of other advisers with similar business scale and capacity, I found that they were far less verbal and seemed less frustrated with their human resource situation. What was particularly thought provoking was that the young adviser had assumed he must be doing something wrong or that there was something wrong with his organizational model.

We’re Never Done
There is no doubt that if we make the effort to improve, we get better over time. We learn how to manage resources—time, money and people—more effectively. What this young adviser had yet to learn was that he was doing just fine as a manager. The reality is that just when we have things lined up to achieve the perfect organization, a lot can change—someone gets sick, leaves for a different job or needs to implement new technology or procedures, which actually causes him or her to be less effective and may even lead to performance issues.

The longer we spend in a leadership position, the more we learn that when things are going well, all we have to do is wait a bit—they’ll change! The good news is that the reverse is also true. When things are not going right from an HR perspective, focusing your attention on the issue can help improve it. The fact of the matter is that we are never done managing our people. And that’s the real value of time and experience.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


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6 Seriousness of Success Indicators

During a complimentary group coaching session with 60 financial advisers, I made a special announcement that for a limited time we would offer a very low monthly payment plan option on our upcoming group coaching series to anyone with five years or less in the business. I did this to try and help those in need who may not have the necessary funds for coaching.

The caveat: we were only taking the first 10 people who emailed me with their interest. Within minutes, we had more than 10 people contact me. However, only one ended up actually signing up for our group coaching program. My first thought was that the others simply didn’t see our follow-up email with the registration link. After calling the entire list twice and speaking with many of the advisers, I came to the realization that the real reason they were not following through on their initial interest was that they simply were not serious about their own success (and it had nothing to do with money after all).

The following are just of few examples of what I have found with my successful client advisers:

1.) They Are Serious about Commitment: Successful advisers know that making a commitment to own their success is not a gray area—either you are committed to succeed or you are not. This doesn’t eliminate setbacks but redefines them as opportunities to learn and move forward.

2.) They Are Serious about Character: Successful advisers know that doing the right thing for the client is much more important than earning a commission. They say what they mean and they stick to their word.

4.) They Are Serious about Consequences: Successful advisers know that they are responsible for their own success, not their firm, their clients, the market or the economy. They realize that it is pointless to blame others.

5.) They Are Serious about Collaboration: Successful advisers find others to help build and maintain a thriving practice. They utilize their firm’s resources and expertise. They oftentimes build teams with other like-minded advisers or hire junior advisers to delegate activities to that they themselves don’t like to do.

6.) They Are Serious about Control: Successful advisers know what is and is not in their control. They CAN control their attitude, activities and actions. They don’t worry about things that they cannot control, such as their clients’ attitudes, the market and the overall economy.

Obviously, I’m not saying you can’t have fun in your business but I am saying that if you want to get to the next level with your practice it’s time to get serious about your own success. Nobody else can, or will, do it for you.

If you read this article and would like help identify how to take your business more seriously, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a free complimentary consultation with Dan Finley.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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Learning about Leadership through Baseball

“Baseball is this huge analogy for life,” said Rebecca Herman, Ph.D., professor of leadership and organizational development at Kaplan University’s school of business. Herman spoke to FPA volunteer leaders about leadership and volunteerism at the FPA Chapter Leaders Conference in Broomfield, Colo.

Herman, a baseball fanatic and co-author of Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership, shared the following steps to effective leadership:

Lead Yourself
To be an effective leader, you must lead yourself. According to Herman, this takes passion, leading by example, and respect. “Leading by example is one of the best behavioral lessons we can give our team,” said Herman.

Leading Others
The next step to effective leadership is leading others. To do this successfully, Herman says you must cultivate relationships (spend time with the people on your team each day), communicate effectively, and support your people. After interviewing dozens of Major League Baseball players for her book, Herman was shocked to learn that what players wanted most from their managers was support; they wanted their managers to have their back.

Leading the Game
This is what Herman considers your expertise. She encouraged the planners in the room—experts in financial planning—to stay up to date on their expertise, to foster teamwork and create a winning culture.

All these steps will lead to becoming a major league leader, scoring a home run and experiencing your own version of that champagne-popping moment of winning the World Series.

Schulaka Carly_resizedCarly Schulaka
Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, CO