In May, 2014, 700 financial advisors answered 10 questions about their own success. It was a small step forward in what I’m affectionately calling The Success Project, a long-term examination of the drivers of success for financial advisors. The journey begins by looking at success through the eyes of advisors.
You can access a full overview of the results here – Foundation of Success.
Drivers of Advisor Success
The survey focused on seven potential drivers of success. Advisors were asked to rate the importance of each in driving success and as well as their own performance on each factor.
|Mindset||Your personal outlook or characteristics (e.g. optimism, determination, drive)|
|Physical Health||The quality of your health, energy level etc.|
|Planning/Goal Setting||The extent to which you set clear goals and plan for your business.|
|Client Engagement||The extent to which you build engaged/satisfied client relationships|
|Team Engagement||The extent to which build a team that actively engaged in driving the business forward|
|Business Efficiency||The extent to which you run an efficient business, including workflow, automation and effective use of technology.|
|Personal Efficiency||The extent to which you are personally productive, including time management, effective scheduling etc.|
Click here to download a form with these categories and room to rate your own performance.
Based on input from advisors, the two most important gaps are:
- Client engagement
These are followed by:
- Business development
- Personal efficiency, and
- Planning/goal setting
What Sets the Most Successful Advisors Apart?
The Deal Breakers
There are deal-breakers associated with success, the things that do not guarantee success, but allow it to happen. For the advisors that participated, those deal breakers are ‘mindset’ (expressed as perseverance or resilience) and work ethic (a lot of it). As tempting as it is to believe that these things alone will guarantee success, it is clear that structure, process and efficiency provide the fuel that takes a business forward.
The Table Stakes
The tables stakes for success are focused on client service and putting the needs of clients first. Absent of a basic focus on the needs of clients, success is clearly impossible even if the deal breakers are in place.
Three things set the most successful advisors substantially apart from their peers, drawing on this survey, interviews with advisors and on-going research in this area.
1. Personal Engagement
The most successful advisors have a vision for the lives and their businesses. They have a clear plan in place, focus on those activities that will drive them forward and are more likely to be able to draw a direct line from their personal goals, to their business goals to their daily schedule. Their daily activities align with their goals.
Action: Define your ‘why’. Take time and consider the following questions.
- What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? How much time will you spend working? How will you spend the rest of your time?
- What aspects of your job do you really enjoy doing on a day to day basis?
- What aspects of your job do you hate doing on a day to day basis?
- What kind of clients excite and challenge you?
- What is important about running a business to you? Does it provide more flexibility, more money, more control or, perhaps, something that you can pass on to your children?
- When do you want to retire?
- What do you want to happen to your business when you retire?
2. Client Engagement
The most successful advisors focus on those activities that create deep engagement, above and beyond great service. They are leaders in their lives of their clients and have translated core concepts, such as trust, into meaningful action for clients.
Action: Understand what matters most to your clients. Identify 2-3 clients and ask if you can gather their feedback on a few key questions.
- Why did you select me as your financial advisor?
- If someone asked you to describe how we had helped you, what would you say?
- How do you think the work we have done together will impact your financial future? What will be different?
- What three words would you use to describe our relationship? How are those things demonstrated (e.g. trust)
3. Team Engagement
The most successful advisors have created a culture that supports key drivers of team engagement. According to Dan Pink (@danielpink) and in addition to research from a host of other brilliant minds, such as Dan Ariely (@danariely) those drivers are Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose.
Action. Understand what matters most to your team. Set time to meet with each team members and ask a few key questions.
- What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
- What part of your work do you enjoy the least?
- Can you give me an example of a day when you felt great about coming to work?
- How do you know when you’ve done a great job?
- If you were me and you wanted to create the most outstanding work environment possible, what would you do differently?
In the end, successful advisors translate concepts such as personal, client or team engagement into real actions. Sometimes that starts with better data and insights to point you in the right direction.