Los Angeles—“I loved your speech. Your insight and research on elite advisors and teams are spot on—a number of points I need to incorporate into my team,” an enthused Tom said after my keynote. “But if I could give you one piece of feedback: You mentioned the terms “work” and “work ethic” a few times, and you should’ve mentioned them alongside every point during your presentation!”
Apparently this “work” issue was a pet peeve with Tom, as he then went on and on—the office was a ghost town after 1 p.m.; advisors come in late, leave early and expect to make a lot of money; and so on. He was equally dismissive of both veterans and rookies. His parting comment summed it up: “Advisors are lazy, and yet they still expect to make a lot of money.”
A small group of advisors was eavesdropping on our conversation, and it was obvious Tom didn’t care who was listening. Only moments after he bid me adieu was my assumption confirmed; management informed me that Tom was a mirror image of my presentation—an elite advisor, one of their biggest producers and a true rainmaker.
Tom’s words hit a nerve. I share his disdain for laziness, particularly in people who have the opportunity to experience serious growth, and especially when they verbalize ambition but end up full of excuses. “If only I had more support.” “I’m coaching my daughter’s soccer team.” “My manager is too busy recruiting to help me.” “My firm doesn’t allow me to market the way I want to.” The list is endless.
It’s always been my understanding that hard work and ambition are the American way. If I were to choose to have one without the other, I would pick hard work. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble with people who are lazy; whether or not they have ambition is a different matter. None of us is wired the same way. However, claiming to possess ambition without a serious work ethic is to live a lie.
Rarely have I encountered an advisor who wouldn’t like to produce at a higher level. After all, it’s one of the reasons most get into the business. And I can usually tell by how they present themselves, their appearance and personal energy, whether or not their work ethic is congruent with their ambition. Yet I still find myself curious about their daily routine (AKA work ethic), their professional relationship with support personnel, and so on.
Support personnel are expected to be professional, dependable, able to multi-task, and have good people skills. Herein lies a serious practice management conundrum. An advisor’s practice will mirror the example being set by his or her work ethic. If an advisor cuts corners, arrives late, takes long non-productive lunches (with other advisors, friends, etc.), leaves early, and is frequently absent and unaccounted for, it can be assured that this advisor isn’t respected by the support personnel.
Sure, most assistants will dutifully perform their job, but they are unlikely to strive for excellence working with an advisor whose work ethic is lacking. So let’s take a few moments of honest reflection and fill in the blanks of the following Weekly Routine Assessment. You can compare your answers with the Elite Advisor answers listed below the assessment.
Weekly Routine Assessment
1. I always plan each __ in advance.
2. I have __ scheduled face-to-face meeting(s) with top clients (social and business).
3. I have __ phone conversation(s) with top clients a day.
4. I have phone conversations with __ prospect(s) per day.
5. I have __ weekly lunch(es) with top clients, centers of influence, referral alliance partners, or prospects.
6. I meet with __ client(s) socially every week.
7. I have __ structured weekly meeting(s) with my team (full and part-time support, junior FAs, interns, etc.).
8. I have __ weekly breakfast meeting(s) with top clients, COIs, referral alliance partners, or prospects.
9. I attend __ social event(s) each week.
10. I spend __ each day working directly with my staff (schedules, problem solving, projects, etc).
Elite Advisor Answer Key: 1. Day; 2. Two; 3. Five; 4. Two; 5. Two; 6. Two; 7. One; 8. One; 9. Two; 10. 30 minutes.
Tom, the elite advisor from the conference, has a routine that is similar, excluding the breakfast meeting; being on the West Coast, he doesn’t schedule any. But the most important aspect of his weekly routine—planning each day in advance—is linked to his weekly (calls, meetings, lunches, socializing), monthly (projects, events, trips, pipeline), quarterly (projects, events, trips, pipeline, YTD results) and annual planning (production, new assets, new clients, retention, etc. )
If any of this appears overwhelming, break it down into a daily drill. Plan your day in advance, coordinate each day with your support personnel, make X number of client calls, make X number of prospect calls, schedule a power lunch, schedule a breakfast, meet a COI or a prospect socially, and repeat the drill.
How did you compare to today’s elite? Are you leading by example? If so, you’ll probably do a bit of fine-tuning that is influenced by this exercise. If not, you’d better look in the mirror, have a long talk with yourself, and then commit to working both hard and smart. It’s a new world—good is no longer good enough.
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