6 Do's and 6 Don'ts of a Successful Advisor's Practice - Part 1 of 2
By Bill Bachrach
Bachrach & Associates
Don’t be a salesperson, be a Trusted Advisor.
Stay tuned for Part 2....
Most financial advisors say they want to build a business that generates a sizable income and lets them live the life they want. Yet few advisors consistently do what it takes to create that kind of business. They seem to be very busy, but they’re actually engaging in something I call work-avoidance behaviors. If you want to build a successful business that lets you meet your financial and life goals, you need to uncover and eliminate work-avoidance behaviors from your daily routine.
Work-avoidance behavior includes just about anything that doesn’t really serve your clients. Here are six typical examples that I see again and again.
1. Keeping Up with Financial News: Some advisors think they need to know exactly what’s happening in the market, the economy, or the world. Although what I’m about to say flies in the face of conventional wisdom, pay close attention—reading financial magazines and listening to financial radio and TV are absolutely useless behaviors for a financial advisor. The time you spend following the news is time when you’re not building an intelligent business or taking care of your clients. The only people who need to know what’s going on in the market, the economy, and the world are the people who actually manage money. Some advisors get confused. They seem to forget that they’re financial advisors, not money managers, insurance experts, accountants, or lawyers.
2. Getting Ready to Get Ready: I’ve adopted a mantra at my firm: Bill should only do what only Bill can do. If a task is delegable, it should be delegated. A corollary to that rule is that certain things should be done during prime time, and certain things should be done during non-prime time. For example, you definitely need to spend time creating an image for your company. You must be able to communicate and articulate who you are and what you do. The question is, when should you do that? The answer, of course, is during non-prime time. Unfortunately, many advisors would rather spend time working on their company brochure, marketing materials, or Web site than actually ask for and follow up on referrals. After all, they can’t possibly feel rejected when they’re rewriting their promotional literature for the seventeenth time!
3. Becoming Overinformed or Overeducated: Another form of work avoidance is to be informed and educated beyond what your clients actually need. Some advisors do this by studying for every possible designation in the financial services industry. Others do it by reading books and magazines, listening to tapes, or attending training programs and conference sessions that are incompatible with the systems they’ve chosen for acquiring clients and running their business. Which leads to a very good question: Do you have a system for acquiring clients and running your business? Since most advisors don’t, they frequently go to conventions and sit in on every session. They don’t discriminate between what they need and what they don’t. Very few advisors attend conferences with pre-planned agendas and then come back with something they can really use. Instead, they come back with pages and pages of notes that they put on a shelf and instantly forget. Before you sign up for your next course or seminar, ask yourself honestly whether it’s the best use of your time or whether you’re simply engaging in work-avoidance behavior.
4. Talking About Your Business Instead of Working On It: Many advisors spend a tremendous amount of time talking about what they’re going to do, especially during prime time. When I was an advisor, five to eight times an hour, one of the other advisors in my office would walk in to ask me a question or talk about something that was completely irrelevant for prime time. I tried hanging a sign on my door, but that didn’t work, so I’d literally barricade my door with my chair in order to get some work done. If I didn’t, I’d get interrupted continuously. Prime time is for taking care of existing clients and acquiring new ones. Period.
5. Putting Out Fires: “Fires” are usually situations that your staff should handle. Many advisors don’t empower their staff members to solve problems or serve clients. They unconsciously sabotage their own success because complaining about their staff and then doing the staff’s work is frequently more comfortable than doing what they’re supposed do, which is asking for and following up on referrals. Managing money, writing financial plans, being a junior wanna-be economist, or doing anything else that could be delegated or outsourced (such as taxes, insurance, legal decisions) are serious work-avoidance behaviors.
6. “Checking In” to See How Clients Are Doing: Except for emergencies, client interaction should occur on a regular schedule. I’ve heard statistics that the most successful advisors are in contact with their clients 28 times a year. That could happen through 12 monthly statements, 4 (quarterly) face-to-face meetings, and 12 additional scheduled contacts, such as monthly phone appointments, non-financial newsletters, or other written or verbal contacts. Client contact should always be orchestrated; random contact is just another work-avoidance behavior.