This is Part two of the 6 Do’s and 6 Don’ts of a Successful Advisor’s Practice. If you missed Part One, go back and read it first.
Now that we’ve identified the most common work-avoidance behaviors, you’re probably wondering how a successful advisor’s work day does look. Here are six areas on which they spend the vast majority of their time.
1. Holding Their Clients Accountable: Successful advisors report that their highest priority is to hold their clients accountable for doing what they need to do to achieve their goals. Most client-advisor relationships are backwards. When clients and advisors get together, the conversation tends to revolve around trying to rationalize things that aren’t rational and can’t be rationalized, like, “Why did the market do what it did?” and “What do you think the market’s going to do in the future?” and “Based on what you think the market’s going to do, what do you think we ought to do?” Most advisors waste time answering these questions, but successful advisors tell the truth: “I have no idea, but I do know that if you behave this way—if you invest your money this way over time and stick with this plan—you will achieve your goals.” Competent advisors hold their clients accountable to do what needs to be done so goals can be achieved in the face of the truth, which is that we don’t know what’s going to happen. I often say that the success of what you’re currently doing is built on the foundation of what immediately preceded it. When you create the impression that you have access to some magic information about the future, sooner or later you’re going to be wrong. If that’s the basis for a relationship, your clients will leave when they realize you can’t predict the future.
2. Helping New Clients Get Clarity: The most successful advisors spend a considerable amount of time helping potential clients get clarity about what’s truly important to them (their core values), helping them define their goals, and benchmarking their current reality so they can make the smart decision to hire the advisor to create and implement a written, comprehensive financial plan. Don’t overlook this important step. Remember, you can’t help your clients get what they want until you know what they want and the reasons those things are important to them.
3. Harnessing Their Resources: To create a plan that gives clients the highest probability of achieving their goals, successful advisors spend time harnessing their resources. This includes both the resources at their company and the external relationships they’ve developed. Their resources might include a plan writer, a money manager, an insurance expert, and several tax and legal experts. Remember, it’s your job to build a team of experts who facilitate the delivery of your promise to the clients, which is to help them achieve their goals for the reasons that are important to them.
4. Execute a Referral System: Successful advisors want their appointment calendars to be full, with as little time taken away from serving clients as possible. There are many ways to fill your appointment calendar, and the least expensive, least time-consuming, and most effective way is through referrals. Make sure you have an effective system for obtaining and following up with referrals.
5. Hire a Competent Staff and Keep the “Machine” Running Smoothly: Successful advisors hire competent staff people and hold them accountable to develop and implement effective operational and administrative systems to serve their clients. The size of your staff will depend on how many clients you have and how little you want to work.
6. Write Your Own Financial Plan: You’d be surprised to learn how many advisors neglect this step. They recommend financial plans for their clients, yet they fail to write a plan for themselves. Walk your talk! The most successful advisors take time to write their own financial plans, then they build their businesses so their financial goals are actualized.
Last but not least: Don’t be a salesperson, be a Trusted Advisor.