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NexGen Planners: For Success, Never Wing It

You’ve landed your first job in the financial planning profession. You attended your first FPA annual conference this October in Chicago. You made great connections and came back to work feeling recharged. Continue your trajectory of success with both your clients and employers with these tips:

Prepare. You have a meeting coming up and you have a vague idea of what you want to say, but you don’t formally prepare. You wing it. The meeting goes great because you exceeded your low expectations. You feel pretty good about yourself.

But what if you had prepared? You made note cards with key points. You memorized them. You ran through what you’re going to say a few times at home with your cat, dog, or spouse. Your performance may fall below your high expectations, but the prepared performance will beat winging it every time, said Hilary Blair, CEO and executive communication coach at ARTiculate Real & Clear, an executive coaching firm based in Denver.

Work on your executive presence. According to Blair, executive presence means to show up and be authentic, vulnerable, present and confident, while keeping your audience top-of-mind.

“It’s all about your audience,” Blair said in an informational video on her website. “Everything is about your audience, what they need to hear, not what you want to say or what you want to share.”

When you think of your non-verbal communication, what you should wear and say, make those decisions by considering what your audience needs and you’ll connect with them. Blair notes that we should dress so people can make a connection with us, not to impress them. Keep this in mind when you’re meeting with your boss or your clients.

The reason executive presence matters is because it is the thing that will inspire confidence and give you access to opportunities, says this Forbes article titled “Executive Presence: What Is It, Why You Need It And How To Get It.”

Always negotiate. When career coach and author Elizabeth Suárez got her first job, fresh off acquiring her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she was so happy to see how much they were offering her that she accepted the job without negotiating.

A few months in, she learned her male counterpart, hired at the same time with fewer credentials, made $40,000 more per year than she did. When she asked her supervisor why, she was told, “He asked and you didn’t.” She learned then to always negotiate. She wrote The Art of Getting Everything to teach people how to do the same. You may get a no, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Consider professional development. If leadership, continuous learning and improvement are your goals, find some leadership training programs that can better help you in your career. As a young(ish) professional, I have found great value in the Latino Leadership Institute, from which I learned about all of the content in the above sections. Also, taking advantage of all the professional development opportunities available to you through membership organizations like FPA is key. I find tremendous value in the weekly webinars from the American Copy Editors Society. They help me learn new things every week to be better prepared at work. FPA offers the same for you. If you’re currently not a member, consider whether it’s a good fit for you.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

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Pushing Past the Upper Limit Problem

Have you ever wondered why you are not consistently having record-setting years? Oftentimes while coaching financial advisers and insurance agents, I have noticed specific behavioral patterns that kick in soon after individuals have experienced success.

the-big-leapGay Hendricks, the author of the book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level has coined a term for this that he refers to as “the upper limit problem”—which he defines as the amount of success that you are willing to allow yourself to have.

Here is how it works: We all have an “inner thermostat” that is set on just how much success we are willing to allow ourselves to have before we do something to self-sabotage and get back to our comfort zone. Unfortunately, most people don’t know their thermostat’s setting, much less a process for inching to a higher setting.

How to Reset Your Inner Thermostat and Resolve Your Upper Limit Problem
Hendricks said that in order to get to the next level, you cannot solve the problem that is holding you back; rather you need to resolve the problem by gaining a new level of awareness about it. Let’s take a look at the four main zones that he refers to that explains where people get stuck.

The Zone of Incompetence. One of the most common zones that I’ve seen advisers and agents revert to when they start to experience success is The Zone of Incompetence, which refers to spending time doing activities we are clearly not good at. Take for instance the last time you were having a record month: as the days went on did you find yourself doing activities that your assistant could be doing? If so, it was most likely because you were self-sabotaging your time by not doing activities that could have contributed to your continued level of success.

The Zone of Competence. Let’s say that you are great at doing what should be your assistant’s activities, you’ve done them for years and you find yourself saying things like, “Well, she’s got plenty to do so it’s just easier if I do this one thing for my client instead.” The challenge with this is that it’s never just one thing. If you are finding yourself doing these tasks, you are in The Zone of Competence. You both could be doing these activities but the truth is that if you are already having a successful month you essentially are now giving yourself permission to stop doing your job and tackling items that your assistant really should be completing.

The Zone of Excellence. Successful advisers and agents find themselves in The Zone of Excellence when they are accomplishing activities that they do well and are getting compensated. Unfortunately, this can create a comfort zone which in the long term will hold one back from reaching their peak potential. In addition, you may find yourself falling into a rut doing what you do well but not liking what you are doing. In other words, if you are great at public speaking but are sick of doing seminars you may not be happy and thus need to find things you are good at and like doing. You will burnout otherwise.

The Zone of Genius. At some point, you need to ask yourself the tough question, If you couldn’t fail at your business, what is it that you really would love to be doing differently?” The answer to that question will lead you to The Zone of Genius, in which you are doing what you love to do. As a result, work won’t feel like work. In this zone time doesn’t fly but instead it flows; you are not exhausted, you feel fulfilled. Granted you will still have to work to make a great living but you would also be happy and passionate about your professional life.

Taking the Big Leap
Take a moment to determine what zone you are currently in. If you want to live your life’s purpose, then you must take a big leap of faith and commit to becoming the person you are meant to be by finding the work you love to do. Then express to your target market your unique abilities and genuine willingness to help them so that one day they too could be in a position to afford to do what they love to do. If you can take this leap, you will have done what Hendricks meant by conquering your hidden (or unknown) fear and taking yourself to the next level of work and life.

If you are ready to take your big leap, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Advisor Solutions.

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

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FPA Retreat 2016: Thursday, April 28

The Wigwam Resort outside Phoenix, Ariz., welcomed Financial Planning Association members this week for FPA Retreat 2016. Below are photos from Thursday, April 28.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.