“Affluent prospects keep telling me that they don’t feel comfortable putting their money with me because I’m with a small independent firm, they feel more comfortable with larger firms like ...,” stated Bruce very affirmatively during the Q&A period following my presentation, concluding with “I’m curious to your thoughts about this.”
You could’ve heard a pin drop as 100+ advisors anxiously awaited my response. Bruce had just thrown his firm under the bus. What made it all the more poignant was the fact that I’d just finished a four-hour interactive workshop on Mastering Affluent Client Acquisition.
In a modest defense of Bruce, I’ve heard this type of sentiment numerous times before; advisors at large firms jealous of the advisors like Bruce who were aligned with smaller shops and vice-versa. It’s the old “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” saga.
Much to everyone’s surprise I responded by saying “We have 20 years of data on this topic.” I definitely had everyone’s attention, which I then used as a platform to share the cold truth about elite advisors and their respective broker/dealer channels.
“Elite advisors have more in common with each other, whether they’re at a large firm, small firm or an RIA than they do with the majority of advisors in their respective b/d channel,” I told them.
This seemed to relax everyone and there was a lot of nodding in agreement, but Bruce doubled down, insisting it was a real issue. That was, until an elite advisor in the front row took over. After dismissing his complaint outright, the other advisor proceeded to share in great detail how she articulates the differentiators of their small firm. Her parting remarks, “it’s never an issue.”
In effect, Bruce was body-slammed by a colleague. I thanked the elite advisor for sharing and I then took this issue one step further by delving into the characteristics of an elite advisor. I asked everyone to conduct an honest self-assessment; you can do the same. Elite advisors are:
- Ambitious – I’ve never met a top performer who wasn’t extremely ambitious. These advisors think big, set very challenging goals for themselves, internalize these goals, and consistently expand their comfort zones.
- Disciplined – This is all about “doing” what needs to be done, regardless of what they might be thinking (little devilish voice of doubt whispering in their ear), or how they’re feeling (I’m not really comfortable asking for Mr. Big’s business). Essentially, it’s discipline that is directly linked to their ambition. This creates a strong work ethic.
- Self-Aware – Elite advisors are in tune to their weaknesses. This is what fuels an ongoing quest for growth and development. Sure, they’re also aware of their strengths, but they continually work to expand their world of possibilities by correcting weaknesses that interfere with their ambition. This quality sets the stage for eliminating excuses.
- Deliberate Practice – Very few people, not just financial advisors, will take the initiative to correct a weakness, regardless of its significance. Why? Because it’s hard work. Whether you’re a tennis player with a weak backhand, or a financial advisor who’s weak at affluent marketing, top performers always work feverishly to correct any performance-specific weakness. This quality is what eliminates excuses.
As you can see, the aforementioned qualities have nothing to do with an advisor’s firm. Internalizing these qualities is what propels elite advisors to high levels of success. It’s also why they have little patience for advisors with excuses.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com