Love What You Do and Do What You Do Best
“I want to be more successful”, “I want to be a million dollar producer”, “I want to have one hundred million under management”. These are but a few of the phrases that hundreds of advisors have told me over the years. Many advisors measure their success by some numerical figure relating ultimately to income. The first thing that I have to do is to remind them that income is the result of running a successful financial advisory firm.
Why is it that the vast majority of financial advisors never achieve the success that they hoped for when they decided to enter the business?
Our industry probably has one of the highest failure rates or under achievement rates of any profession in the country. That seems absurd when you look at how ill prepared most of the American public is when it comes to retirement and their finances. Shouldn’t the financial advisory business be a profession where smart, caring, professionals should have a better than average chance of success? I think so.
Well, what’s the problem then?
Is it too hard for most advisors? Is there too much to know? Is it too much compliance and regulation? Is it a skeptical, non-trusting public? Perhaps these may be some of the reasons, but then why do some financial advisors achieve wild success compared to their peers? Is it because things come easy to them? Is it because they’re smarter? Is it because they don’t mind compliance and regulation, or because they have a “natural market” where clients want financial advice? I doubt it.
I think the difference between the very successful financial advisor and the average financial advisor has very little to do with how smart the financial advisor is or how outside factors influence the business. I believe success has everything to do with how the financial advisor plans and executes the plan. This is a business that demands a commitment to doing the right activities, paying attention to detail and having a passion for the business by all who are involved.
First, let’s talk about activities.
The most glaring difference between those who succeed and those wanting to succeed is what they do with their time. Achieving success in this business is all about seeing and talking to clients and potential clients. That is the activity that will drive lasting revenue. The most successful financial advisors make client facing activities the most important.
While seeing clients may be the most important, there are dozens of other activities that must be done to achieve success. Marketing, account management, business management, compliance, paperwork and investment research, among others, are very important. That being said, those activities must either be delegated to others, or performed during hours when clients aren’t available. Nothing can be more important than seeing clients and prospective clients.
Second, paying attention to details is a “make it or break it” proposition.
This is a detail business. Clients not only trust their money with you, they trust you with all their dreams and goals. This is a business with a thousand details that must be executed perfectly day in and day out. There is no room for error. Repeatable systems and processes must be developed and followed to ensure that no detail is missed.
Most of the details involved are tasks that can be delegated or performed by technology. Very few tasks require the financial advisor’s involvement on a daily basis. If the financial advisor doesn’t find a way to delegate them, or to eliminate them from his, or her, daily activities, then they will doom themselves to mediocrity or to failure.
Third, everyone involved in the business must have a passion for the business.
This has to be more than a job and a paycheck. The financial advisor must lead and show everyone that they really are passionate about succeeding. I didn’t say talk, I said show.
Passion is all about doing. It is about doing everything that will lead to success. It is about gaining knowledge, spending time wisely, making business plans, executing business plans, finding prospects, converting those prospects to clients, and delivering to clients everything that was promised to them. All of this, and more, must be done with a sense of purpose that shows everyone around you that you are passionate about the business. Talk is cheap, doing is everything.
Most financial advisors say they want to be successful; few do the things absolutely necessary to achieve the success they desire.
If you haven’t achieved the success you desire, it probably isn’t because you don’t know enough or because you don’t know the right people, it’s more likely because you haven’t focused on the right things. Stop focusing on your income and start focusing on planning and execution.
This is a very comprehensive list Dave. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom with the next generation. In the short time that we have know each other and worked together, it is clear that YOU have the passion it takes to not only build a significant Personal CFO business but to also lead others to follow in your footsteps so they don’t have to make the same mistakes you have made. Cheers – Simon D Granner