Leave a comment

Action is the Antidote to Anxiety

Financial planners can find themselves tangled up in their fears, which can limit any level of future success. As a professional development coach, I refer to this as the “teeter-totter effect,” where on one side sits anxiety and on the other sits results. It goes without saying that when results are up, anxiety is down and when results are down, anxiety is up.

So how does someone get off this ride? Well, action is the antidote to anxiety. Dale Carnegie is widely quoted as saying, “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

There are many ways to take action. First, you have to make the decision that you are tired of feeling hopeless, helpless and/or fearful. Then you need to map out what action or change of focus you should be implementing. Create leverage for those actions or focus by writing down a reward or punishment that you would give yourself at the end of the day if you follow through (or not). Then, get going and do it whatever it is that you’ve concluded needs to be done.

You also need to be conscious that this process is ongoing and dynamic. You need to evaluate and tweak accordingly because as you move forward, what you’re doing now may not be what you need to be doing a few month’s down the pike.

Be Solid in Your Desire to Change

Change can be a frightening thing. The thought of the unknown can seem more terrifying than complacency. One of my financial planner clients was in need of change. Here is his story:

Aaron P. had over 40 years’ experience in the profession and was comfortable only working with his client base. He didn’t feel the need to prospect. However, as his clients aged, he faced the reality that his client base was shrinking and consequently, so was his income. One day he called me and declared that he knew he needed to prospect but after all this time, he didn’t know how. By letting himself get rusty, he had created a fear of rejection.

Take the time to determine your direction. In Aaron’s case, he needed to first conquer his fear of rejection by determining how valid that fear was. So, I asked him a series of questions until he came to the realization that any rejection that he might experience while prospecting was not personal. Rather, they were rejecting the value of his services. He needed a step-wise process so that he could ensure he was adequately explaining their value and his veteran industry knowledge. We mapped out what type of prospecting he would do, when he would do it, who he would call, what he would say and how he would handle objections.

To create habits, you must create leverage. Like Aaron, once you have a plan, you must have a strong enough reason why you need to follow it in order to get motivated, create momentum and have it become part of your protocol. In other words, you need leverage.

Aaron had plenty of reasons why he should prospect, his client base and income were shrinking. However, in order to pick up the phone and make that first prospecting call, he needed to have a reward to strive for or a punishment to avoid. Make those items meaningful enough and ensure they speak to what you would like to work for (or against).

Consistent action requires commitment. Once you have decided to make change happen, determined your direction and created leverage and accountability, you need to be consistent.

Aaron did just that. Within weeks he was filling up his pipeline again. When I asked him what he thought about his prospecting system, he said he wished he would have started sooner.

Why A Well-Thought-Out Action Plan Works

Following this approach can lessen your anxiety or eliminate it altogether. The reason why a well-thought-out action plan works is because it refocuses your energy to view things as opportunities, not challenges.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, 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.


1 Comment

Does Your Practice Have a High-Performance Team?

A high-performance team is a concept within organizational development which refers to a team, organization or virtual group that is highly focused on its goals to achieve superior business results.

A high-performance team is one in which you have the right people doing the right things the right ways for the right clients at the right times for the right reasons.

Do you have a high-performance team? The following checklist of behaviors and attributes of high-performance teams can help you figure that out:

  • Have a clear vision and are committed to a common purpose.
  • Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Are committed to ongoing, honest and effective communication. Included in this is: having tactical daily huddles; weekly and monthly team meetings; and strategic quarterly and annual off-site meetings.
  • Have a compelling and differentiating story that all team members can articulate.
  • Commit to high productivity daily. Included in this is utilizing time-blocking strategies; consistently utilizing a contact management system; engaging in effective workflow among team members; executing a task priority system; being purposeful and intentional in daily work with a high focus on proactivity; systematizing and documenting all repeated activities as standard operating procedures; spending 10 percent of time on the business every week; embracing technological resources to drive efficiency; and being cross-trained and having back-up systems.
  • Consistently demonstrate a positive, can-do and will-do attitude. This includes: going above and beyond job descriptions; being solutions-focused and committed to problem solving; and innovating to drive efficiency and productivity.
  • Have strong personal accountability. This includes believing in self-leadership; having short- and long-term goals; owning mistakes; frequently evaluating individual, team, and business performance; embracing giving and receiving constructive criticism; understanding role and value in the vision and overall success of the group; and ensuring that words and actions are consistently aligned.
  • Are committed to ongoing personal and professional growth. This includes being masters of their craft; engaging in all firm-provided professional development opportunities; investing in themselves; subscribing to valuable online and offline learning publications; and seeking professional credentials.
  • Are committed and respectful to the leader, the team and themselves. This includes embracing autonomy within their role and embracing collaboration within the team; respecting the ultimate decisions made; and seeking ways to help each other and the team succeed.
  • Celebrate successes. This includes making time to “smell the roses” and have fun together and recognizing each person’s contributions to the team.
  • Master the fundamentals. This includes setting the highest standards for their work; displaying integrity in all things; always putting the clients’ best interests first and foremost; and maintaining mutual respect and trust.

As you consider your staff and team members, identify opportunities for improvements to drive high performance.

Sarah E. Dale, President of Know No Bounds, LLC

 

Sarah E. Dale
Partner
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.

krista_sm

 

Krista S. Sheets
President
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.


Leave a comment

Beta Testing Change in Your Ensemble Practice

I’ve spent decades consulting on practice management issues and had countless conversations with advisers wanting to make some sort of change in their practices. One adviser might want to hire a new employee to increase efficiency. Another might want to move into a new, more upscale office space. Yet another might want to bring other types of advisers into the practice, such as rainmakers or service advisers.

As the trend of shifting from a solo to a group or ensemble practice continues to gain steam in our industry, it’s important to realize some of the challenges going into partnership with other advisers can present.

Barriers to change

A partnership is a bit like a marriage. Your adviser partners come to the table with their own established values, perceptions and opinions. And just because one partner thinks a particular business change is a profoundly good idea, it doesn’t mean another partner (or partners) will share that belief. For example, say you think your firm should incorporate a formal business management process to help you target client acquisition and revenue goals. Your two partners disagree, arguing the following:

  • Why do we need to have a business plan? We know what we’re doing.
  • What’s the point of defining a niche? We’d have to turn down business.
  • There’s no need to create and stick to an ideal client profile.
  • Why is it important to track overhead? We can pay our bills just fine.
  • Documenting processes seems like a waste of time.
  • Who needs production goals? We’re earning enough.
  • Why do we need to create continuity agreements? None of us is going anywhere.

What do you do when you feel strongly about how to run the business more effectively and your partners put up barriers like these? Do you ignore the issue and simply learn to live with the status quo? Do you have a serious life-or-death discussion with them about the future of the firm? Or is there another option?

Beta testing change

Instead of giving up, or beating your head against a wall trying to convince others to see things your way, offer to implement the change you’re seeking in your own corner of the firm as a beta test. Of course, this requires your full commitment to the change. You’ll also need to develop a formal method for measuring the impact of the change you make. After an appropriate period of time, you can then share the results of your beta test with your partners and see if they’re now ready to agree with you.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to grow revenue. To do so, all new clients you take on have to meet your ideal client profile. You’ll want to calculate the return on this investment for your partners. You might also want to track how you help prospects who aren’t a good fit, particularly if your partners were adamant about not turning away any clients. The bigger the change you want to make, the longer it will take to document results, so try starting with a small change first, to make your point.

What is the value in this sort of beta test? You get to implement a change you believe in. You eliminate some of the frustration you were feeling. And everyone in the firm moves toward data-driven decision making.

Will this approach work in every situation? Probably not. But it can be a particularly effective technique for positioning specific changes to your partners. After all, results speak for themselves.

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