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4 Steps to Redefining Your Reference Point

Most financial advisers settle into a routine after a few years in the business. However, oftentimes routines turn into ruts. Many of my clients wonder why their business is coasting along but not growing. I tell them that it may be time to take a moment to evaluate and possibly restructure their activities.

If this is happening to you, don’t be discouraged. Rather choose to redefine your reference point. Our past experiences can hold us back from future success because they may limit our confidence to try new things.

Pablo Picasso said it best when he said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

The secret to redefining your reference point is to think out of the box, find someone who has done what you would like to do, learn from their example and take action.

Let’s take a deeper look at each one of these steps.

Step 1: Think Out of the Box

As with most journeys in life, the first step is always the hardest. You must ask yourself the tough questions in order to begin. Questions such as, “Where am I now? Where do I want to be? What do I need to do differently to get there?” Asking yourself these types of questions and analyzing your answers helps you to think out of the box. It encourages the mind to look for solutions.

Jeff K., a financial adviser with 28 years of experience, had been on a production plateau for year. After attending a free Adviser Solutions Mastermind Session and hearing some of the tools and resources I recommend to other advisers, he contacted me to discuss his business. This act of asking for insight was foreign to him since he had never spoken to a business consultant/coach before.

Step 2: Find a Mentor

The next step is to find a mentor who can help you determine all of the steps needed between where you are currently and where you would like to be. This can be a difficult step for many advisers especially veteran ones who may have to consider advice from others who have not been in the business as long as they have. The key is to find a mentor who has proven results and whose opinion you value.

Step 3: Learn from Their Example

In order to produce the same types of results that other successful advisers have, find out what they have done to accomplish those positive outcomes. It’s important to fully understand their step-by-step process so that you can tweak that for yourself.

Once Jeff explained his situation to me I knew we needed to map out a great prospecting campaign and since he had a large client base I explored the possibility of prospecting by asking for referrals. Over the years, he had tried numerous times to get referrals but ended up very disappointed with the results. I detailed out the process for him, we role-played the dialogue and I coached him on the reasons why a focused referral system works.

Step 4: Take Action

The most important step is to take action—without doing so everything else is just wishful thinking.

Jeff began the Adviser Solutions Client-Centered Referral Process right away and within a week he reported to me that he had received five referrals. That is more than he had gotten the entire previous year. He was so excited about it that he gave me a referral to his boss who he believed needed to hear this process and whom ended up having me teach it to his entire region.

Why Redefining Your Reference Point Works

The key to creating success is to constantly redefine your reference point because it keeps you open to exploring new ways of improving.

If this blog resonates with you and you’d like a free consultation with me, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions.

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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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.


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Create the Courage to Make Lasting Change

During recent group and individual coaching sessions, I’ve noticed a common denominator between those who have experienced success and those who haven’t. Successful individuals are able to embrace change—be it the activities they are incorporating into their days, their acquisition of new skill sets or an increase in their overall awareness and accountability—and how it affects their business. Those less successful tend to fear change and mask their fear with excuses or procrastination.

In order to gather the courage to implement change regularly into the way you manage your business, you must first make a choice that where you are now isn’t where you want to be. You then need to decide to find alternatives to what is currently not working for you. Next, you must take action and tweak and evaluate on a consistent basis in order to end up with positive outcomes. All of this might seem simple in theory, but in reality, it’s difficult for many people I know.

3 Steps to Create Courage to Make Lasting Change

The following discusses each step. See if you can relate to what the adviser is going through when applying the process.

Step 1: Choose to Change. I have countless stories of advisers who say, “I know what I need to do, I just need to do it,” but then don’t. The interesting thing about this statement is that it actually reflects two important points. The first, “I know what I need to do,” reflects a level of awareness of what their solution is. The second part, “I just need to do it,” reflects the fear of not implementing the solution.

So why do people let fear paralyze them? Let’s discuss.

Take Bill K., a 25-year veteran adviser client of mine. In our initial coaching session he admitted that he hadn’t prospected in over a decade and that any new business that he had gotten was from clients as referrals. After additional conversations, he realized that he’d become comfortable only working with his client base and the thought of prospecting again filled him with anxiety because he remembered the amount of rejection he had experienced in his earlier years. Unfortunately, Bill didn’t have a choice because his employers had created new minimum gross production levels and he was never going to reach those targets unless he gathered additional assets.

Now, he was faced with two options, he needed to either prospect or eventually be forced to find another job. So, he chose to change and add prospecting back into his daily work.

Step 2: Find Direction. When faced with this type of situation, most advisers know the outcome that they want but don’t know the required steps to take them there. That’s why Bill called me. He needed a step-by-step process for gathering assets.

We first discussed his current business model and I was surprised to learn that he had virtually no assets in a fee-based platform. His concern was that he didn’t know how to convert his book so he’d never even tried. After reviewing his book, he determined that he had 72 households that would be good candidates to convert to fee-based and if that happened it would increase his turnover ratio which would get him ¾ of the way to his production goals for the following year. So we mapped out a process for converting his book.

Then, we strategized about his referral campaign to try and duplicate his top clients. We role-played a client-centered dialogue and he eventually felt like he had direction.

Step 3: Take Massive Action. All the planning in the world won’t help you if you don’t actually move forward with it. So, I decided to turn Bill becoming overwhelmed by compartmentalizing his goals into daily action steps, then even further into hourly activities so that he could focus on each campaign every day while still doing his regular business.

After Bill had his fee-based conversion campaign down he began converting his book. In addition, he used the client-centered referral dialogue that we had role-played, which got him actual referrals. Within three months he had transitioned most of the households earmarked for the campaign and was gathering assets from new clients. Taking massive action paid off for him.

Why Courage is the Key

The most important piece about Bill’s story is not his destination, but his journey. He began by realizing that he was being forced to get out of his comfort zone. It took real courage to reach out to me and admit that he didn’t know what to do but that he was willing to change. He was open to learning new processes and desired to take a leap of faith and apply them.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by 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.