Why You Need to Be a Good Business Person to Succeed as a Financial Advisor
A large percentage of financial advisors fail, not because they aren’t good at what they do, but because they lack the core competencies of running a business.
If you want to succeed in this profession, you need to become a good business person.
Let’s look at what this entails.
Having a business plan
It’s impossible to be successful without a business plan. In ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Alice reaches a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire cat ‘which path should I take?’ He replies, ‘which way do you want to go?’ If, like Alice, you don’t know where you want to go – then it doesn’t matter.
Don’t, like many advisors, fall into the trap of thinking that if you do a great job, your clients will pay you more money. You won’t grow your business this way. If you want to improve your business and earnings over time, you need to map out concrete, realistic goals. Ask yourself where you want to be in 5 years’ time. How much revenue do you anticipate making? Then ask yourself how exactly you will get there.
To achieve your aspirational revenue figure, you will need to open so many new accounts every year. How will you achieve that? Where will you meet the requisite prospects? For example, on LinkedIn? Do you aim to win new business via referrals? If so, from whom?
Include a goal and timeline for each aspect of your business plan – in detail – right down to how many letters you need to send out, how many phone calls you need to make – to achieve enough meetings per month.
Working out your ideal client profile
You need to be able to market your professional skills and knowledge to prospects in your niche market(s). If you don’t have a distinct target market, you will attract clients who aren’t a good fit for your organisation, and this will limit your profitability.
Define your ideal client. This profile could be based on existing clients you love to work with. Why do you enjoy working with these clients? Why does it work? Maybe you share a professional background, similar values, family situation – or geographical location? Drill down to the detail when you’re creating your ideal client profile. Then create a one-pager based on your profile and hand it out to prospects and clients alike.
Once you’ve attracted a client base based on your ideal profile, you will become the ‘go to’ advisor in this sector. Henceforth stick as much as possible to attracting and retaining these exact client types.
Developing project management skills
As a good business manager, you need to be able to schedule your time efficiently. You’ll need to manage budgets, meet deadlines and stay organized if you want to get ahead. Put your effort into tasks that are income-generating – primarily into prospecting or sitting down with clients.
Delegate repetitive admin tasks or invest in electronic tools to take care of them so you can focus your efforts in the right places. Get tech savvy – know how to make the best use of technology, when it comes to shortcuts, programs and functions. Customer Relationship software can help you keep on top of client communications.
Acting and thinking like a CEO
You’re a CEO so act like one and talk like one. And that applies, even if – in fact especially if – you’re a one-person business.
Bring an owner’s mentality to work every day. Make decisions in line with your goals. Focus on the key metrics of running your business and know which are profitable and which are not. Do what needs to be done even when it isn’t pleasant – get on the phone and prospect.
Build your business like you’re going to sell it. Surround yourself with talent because you can’t do it alone. Act and dress the part. Embrace change and fight to maintain a competitive advantage, because you probably won’t have a cost advantage. Strive for differentiation and build a superior service model so you can set the standard for professionalism in your area.
What will separate you from an average advisor are the qualitative aspects of your job, and these generally outweigh the quantitative skills of your job. Focus on developing yourself as a business manager. This is a core competency that, along with financial acumen and great soft skills, will assure you the greatest chance of success.