There are only two types of financial advisors: good and not-so-good ones. They have similar credentials, training, experience, so what really separates them?
If you look closely, you will notice good financial advisors have a long list of loyal clients, and their services are coveted, whereas a mediocre one struggles to find new clients. If you struggle to acquire new clients or have faced difficulty in the past, you fall in the latter category. This is your wake-up call.
Moreover, according to a 2014 Cerulli Associates report, almost one-third of financial advisors falls into the 55 to 64 age range. The data also suggests that both business owners and broker-dealers risk losing their advisors as this age group exits the industry. Although alarming, this data indicates that the market is opening for new advisors to claim territory.
A successful financial advisor has an undying passion for the field, the work, and clients. This is essential as standard procedures, laws, tools, methods, and various products in the financial and investment fields constantly evolve.
An enthusiastic financial advisor naturally gravitates toward learning more about their industry and strives to update their knowledge. An advisor without that same passion falls behind and struggles to keep up with industry developments. This behavioral aspect alone may differentiate a financial advisor’s success or failure.
A good question to ask financial advisors is what’s new to verify whether they update their industry knowledge. We have three more sure-shot ways to achieve success as an advisor:
1. Set Goals
Have you wondered where you would be in five years or what you want to be doing then? Do you know your primary objective at work? Do you know what you want to achieve by the end of each day, and do you attain those daily goals?
It’s pretty simple: if you want to succeed, you need to set goals! Goals give you clarity, focus, and direction. Not only that, but your goals act as benchmarks to determine your progress and if you are succeeding or not.
Setting goals begins with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and whether you are ready to put in the hard work. The timeline between setting the goal and its achievement is crucial and requires thoughtful consideration. An action plan full of well-defined steps helps to achieve your goals via smaller milestones along the way.
To set your goals:
- Set goals that motivate you and show value in their achievement are important to you.
- Write down your goals to make them more accurate and tangible
- Make an action plan to achieve the goal, especially if the goal is long-term, demanding, or large.
- Stick with your goals and adjust them as needed. Goal setting isn’t a one-time activity; rather, it’s an ongoing process.
The best way to set goals is to set SMART Goals, as defined by Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. These are:
- Specific goals: Always set clear and well-defined goals; vague goals provide little direction. A goal must precisely define the outcome.
- Measurable goals: Determine what metrics will measure progress and success. These may be related to time, money, or other measurements meaningful to you.
- Achievable goals: The goal should be attainable within the set timeline. Setting a goal that is impossible to achieve only demoralizes you. A goal should be realistic and challenging.
- Relevant goals: Your goal should be relevant to the direction you want to take in either your personal or professional life.
- Time-bound goals: Your goals need a deadline so that you know when to celebrate your success. Acknowledging achievement will keep you motivated to do more.
2. Understand Client Needs
Your clients are the backbone of your business. Without them, you wouldn’t have a business. As an advisor, if you wish to build and grow your network, you must understand and interpret your clients’ needs. This helps you to address their pain points to the best of your abilities.
Even if you have multiple clients from the same industry, never assume they have the exact needs. Failure to clearly understand your clients’ needs risks losing those clients. An aware advisor understands and meets clients’ ongoing needs to retain their business.
To do this:
- Know the client’s business. Before you meet your client, it’s important to know their business. Do your research: the number of years they have been in business, their products and services, who the decision-makers are, and their key competitors. This knowledge helps you build rapport and a relationship.
- Listen to your client. To be a good listener, you need to pay attention and stay focused. It is best to maintain eye contact and minimize distractions. Do not listen to respond; instead, listen to understand what they are trying to tell you.
- Ask questions and paraphrase. Ask questions to clearly define the client’s needs and paraphrase what your client says to clarify any vague aspects and deepen your understanding. Ask both open-ended and close-ended questions.
- Propose new ideas. If you have a better or new idea, do not hesitate to share it. Even if you are already working on something, bring better solutions to your clients. They will surely appreciate your new ideas, which may identify a need they were unaware of.
- Solicit regular feedback. Do not assume that your work is done even if you have finished the job. It is really important to check with your clients to ensure their expectations are being met. Their feedback will help you discover if there is additional service you can provide or improve.
3. Stay Connected
Customers are the force that drives your business towards success; therefore, it’s essential to monitor your interactions with them. If you want your clients to refer you within their networks, then you must learn to put their needs first. Don’t reach out to them only when you need something or want their business. Instead, find ways to consistently show you are there for them and you really care.
Stay connected to both current and past clients. Send out cards, newsletters, or even a simple message through social channels to stay in touch and continue reaching out.
Your extra efforts will pay off, as these are the people who will give you referrals and will introduce you to more clients.
Related: How to Succeed at New Client Acquisition.
A Winning Hand
Building a successful advisory practice requires strategy, effort, perseverance, and a few aces up your sleeve that include:
- A long track record of exceptional service and performance.
- Always professional behavior that puts your client’s needs first and foremost.
- Continuously sharpened skills to remain updated with industry knowledge and market trends to hone your analytical skills.