I had a conversation with one of my long-term coaching clients who was preparing to give a presentation to an industry group. Her topic was to give some wisdom on how she had become so successful in her 30 years in the business. It went something like this;
- Take care of your health.
- Get a coach.
- Set goals, measure and reevaluate.
- Have a referral based business.
- Create, sustain, and lead a strategic alliance.
- Become an author.
- Volunteer in the community.
- Be committed to constant learning and growth.
- Share with your peers.
- Have a legacy product.
- Take care of the succession of your business.
Take care of your health.
What good can you be for your family, your clients, and your friends if you are not in good health? Being in good health is by design, not genetics. Good DNA will predispose you towards good or ill health but it is the sum of the choices that you make that will determine your outcome. This is supported by scientific research. It’s about the environment and your behavior that turns on or off the expression of your genes. There is an 80% correlation between being a deca millionaire and being in a health and fitness program, according to Dr. Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Next Store”. One of my coaching “commandments” is to put yourself first. Not your children, not your spouse, but you. Another commandment is “my lifestyle is an asset, not a liability”. A true marker for success in the financial services industry is your being in a consistent exercise and fitness program. You need to have the energy and “look” to generate the confidence in your clients to be their financial coach. When they look at you they need to see someone who has it together and is on track. How else are they going to have confidence to make you their one stop financial coach?
Get a coach.
Yes, the cliché does apply to financial services. Great athletes can only be great athletes by having a coach who challenges them to be their best. The word coach is so abused that my office has stopped using it. Any time you have an “ease of entry” into an unregulated business then you get the good and the bad that all call themselves a coach. So here is what to look for.
Look for credibility. Look for someone who has related academic credentials in addition to coach specific training. Look for someone who has business acumen and who has a track record of success within financial services.
The coach has a role. First, I’ll discuss what the role is not. The coach’s role is not to tell you how to do your business. For that you’ll need an industry mentor. There are lots of trainers who can help you there. Your broker dealer will have practice management experts who can help you segment your book, find markets for guaranteed living benefit annuities, term-life conversions, products with long term care or disability riders, or even how to prospect.
This is the coaches’ role, three phrases:
- New Perspectives
As a result of a consistent conversation with your coach you will (should) see things differently and from a perspective that you cannot have on your own. Your coach should be a source of challenge for you to strive and achieve beyond what you think you can do. Lastly, your coach should be a very strong source of accountability where there will be enforced consequences for non-performance. Now that is a rare conversation!
Set goals, measure and reevaluate.
The financial services business is a journey. You must be oriented from your purpose, your vision, and your mission. Why are you in this business? What problems do you solve? Who needs you? Why you?
You can write a mission statement that will keep you on track. The mission statement follows this format:
I am _____
Who does _____
So that ____
Once you have clarity on why you are in this business you need to ask and answer the following questions: What am I building? Why bother? How much is enough? Regardless of your age you need to know what your end game is. This is the same approach you take with your clients because after all you are their life coach, not just their financial coach.
There is a principle in quantum physics, the laws of the subatomic, that states the act of observation changes what is being observed. Imagine that you are measuring atoms that you cannot see. Visualize balls on a pool table. You want to locate a ball so you roll the cue ball and when you strike a ball you have found its location. You have “measured it”. However, the act of rolling the ball and striking another one causes the ball to rebound in another direction, hence, the act of measurement changes what is being measured.
Any goal worthwhile has measurement so decide what you are going to measure and then track as specifically and weekly as you can. You can measure anything from assets under management, number of A level households to the number of calls you make on a daily basis. Get measuring!
Have a referral based business.
This doesn’t mean that you stop prospecting. I may mean the end of cold calls however. The top of your industry has referral based businesses. However, they are not asking their clients for referrals. They are creating value that their clients want to share with others.
Create, sustain, and lead a strategic alliance.
This is a premier source of new house holds for the experienced wealth advisor. The traditional teachings for forming a strategic alliance include the financial advisor, estate planning attorney and an accountant.
This has quickly become old school however. Today’s perspective is to ask who shares my clients. Who else market’s to and solves the problems that my target clients have? One approach is to identify who else sells to the high network senior marketplace. Identify and interview those people. Find the experts in those industries and select them to join your group. Then lead the group. Have monthly meetings where you educate each member on a variety of topics. Teach them how to give referrals. Have alliance events where each member markets to their own data base as well as to the public.
Be creative on who you select. Think about adding a P&C agent, a lender, a funeral director, nursing home owner, a SEO expert, a videographer, etc. You will have the most sales and marketing orientation of any one in your group so it is up to you to lead and sustain this alliance and it will require your constant attention.
Become an author.
That’s right, write a book. That is of course if you can consider compliance restrictions. I don’t recommend this with my wire house clients.
Nothing gives you more credibility then being an author and speaking. Just the fact that you have a book, self-published, gives you instant positioning as an expert. You have something to say. You have a platform of beliefs and strategies. Put them on paper and self-publish a book.
Volunteer in the community.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “It is one of the most interesting facts that you cannot help someone else without helping yourself.”
An old song from the rock group, Jethro Tull, has this line: “It’s only the giving that makes you what you are!”
Not only are you doing an honorable thing by serving on the hospital foundation, or the charity for the poor’s board, but you are also solidifying relationships with people of high net worth. You get by giving!
Be committed to constant learning and growth.
Another physics statement, “there is either growth or decay, there is no middle ground.” Top performers are constantly looking to improve and grow. Not only that, but constant learning is fantastic for your brain. A new discovery called brain plasticity states that you can continue to grow new neurons, rewire your brain, and form new habits for a lifetime, so keep learning. Be passionate and excited about this business until you die.
Share with your peers.
This is an open versus a closed philosophy. It is very healthy for you to contribute unselfishly to the success of others then it is for you to be more shut down and keep your best practices to yourself. Share freely, for your own health and state of mind.
One of the best ways to share with your peers is through speaking at industry events. Be selfless. You never know what will come back to you by doing so.
Have a legacy product.
Your clients need a source to impart their wisdom, their philosophies, what they’ve learned, mistakes that they’ve made, their values, and what their wealth means to them to their heirs. The leaders in your field have developed a legacy product that goes beyond an ethical will. This gives your clients a structure to communicate to their heirs.
Take care of the succession of your business.
What have you built? I do not recommend ever retiring. Yes, you will dramatically change your day to day activities but it is so very important that you remain active, engaged, passionate and excited about building something until you die! You will live longer and have a better quality of life if you do.
So, what have you built? Are you positioning yourself to sell your business? Have you groomed a younger advisor to continue on with your clients and continue to grow your business? Have you asked this question?