As we are reminded all too often, investor confidence in the U.S.'s financial markets may be at a low unseen since the Great Crash. You've got your outright frauds (the Enrons and WorldComs), your bankruptcies (Global Crossing) and even some good old insider trading investigations, too (Martha Stewart).
But what about your confidence as a financial advisor? Are you doing everything possible to grow your business in this challenging environment? Or, has all the bad news kept you holed up in your office, ducking calls — instead of actively working to develop new business? Seems like all clients want to do is complain about losing money rather than discuss the details of their overall financial affairs. For many financial advisors, this has made it difficult to get out and develop new relationships.
So what's a broker to do? I recommend taking a page from a 12-step recovery program: Get through life “one day at a time” and find an achievement partner for support.
In 1935, New York broker Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook-Smith proved the power of such a partnership. They founded Alcoholics Anonymous to help them — and ultimately millions of others — find sobriety. Now about 500,000 support groups help people make long-term changes by concentrating on what they can control, and by talking and listening and sharing their problems with their peers. We call it the “working partner” concept.
Although I've dedicated an entire chapter in my book Winning the Inner Game of Selling to this concept, for one reason or another it never caught on with brokers. Whether it was pride, kind markets or a lack of understanding, I am not certain. But the fact is, whenever a working partnership works, serious growth occurs. Why? It is as basic as peer pressure — brokers holding each other accountable for doing what they committed to do.
This partnership should be between two brokers who easily connect with each other. It works best when one person is teamed with another at the same organizational level. But you don't have to come from the same office. The magic is lost if you team up with your boss.
Your partner must be someone who will use the same program, become involved in the same type of activities and expand with them. It must be an individual who shares a similar desire to dream, act and grow. If not, both partners will pull each other down instead of moving together.
Weekly meetings need to be scheduled, and three critical processes must be incorporated into those meetings:
Make certain both partners are getting the support they need from each other, at the meeting and during the week between meetings.
Not for achieving a goal sometime in the future, but for the daily activities and formation of new habits required to reach the partners' goals. It takes 21 days to develop a new habit, and it's tough to do it alone. Each partner becomes accountable to the other for those activities.
Gain insight and suggestions about what the partners believe they are doing effectively, plus input on what they can do to improve.
This working partner relationship becomes more powerful and significant if two documents are created. The first is a working partner agreement that states who the partners are, what they want to accomplish together, when and where they will meet. It also outlines their commitment to support, accountability and feedback. The agreement should be signed and dated by each partner. The second is a working partner meeting log that they will use to record what they discuss when they meet, plus what each agrees to do by the next meeting.
When you're placed on a team, committee or task force, the stimulus and mandate for your involvement comes from outside. Working partnerships grow from the inside out. It's your journey of ongoing achievement, one day at a time.
Matt Oechsli is an author and president of the consulting firm Oechsli Institute. oechsli.com