Anyone who has ever let household chores get the better of him is well-acquainted with the most significant obstacle facing wannabe high-net-worth advisors: inertia.
You can look at those cracks in the bedroom ceiling every day when you lie down to sleep. You can buy the spackle and the sandpaper and the paint and the rollers. You might even read a how-to book about masonry. But none of that gets the ceiling patched if you can't motivate yourself to climb the ladder and start the work.
In our experience, advisors are dragged down by the same sort of inertia when it comes to pursuing high-net-worth clients. Our workshops show that most advisors know what to do and how to do it, but very few put that knowledge into action.
What causes this, and how can the inertia be overcome? These questions have troubled me for some time, and through my workshops, I've begun to answer them.
One key to turning knowledge into action is goals, but goals on their own are not a solution.
What follows are the first of four vital questions a financial advisor can use to motivate himself to pursue the high-net-worth business that so many covet.
Can I competently perform the tasks required to be a successful 21st century financial advisor?
This is where the industry places most of its emphasis, with varying degrees of success. The assumption is simple. If a financial advisor knows what to do and how to do it, he or she will succeed. But, we all know deep down inside that because you can do it does not necessarily mean you will do it.
Still, knowledge and skill are perquisites to getting the job done right, so it's important to make sure that these things are addressed upfront.
Are you serving as a financial quarterback for your affluent clients, providing solutions for the multidimensional aspects of their financial affairs? Have you established practice management policies and procedures that enable you to operate like a well-run dental clinic? Have you mastered the fine art of selling to the affluent?
Am I motivated by the rewards that accompany financial advisor success?
At their very core, financial advisors are driven by our values. The work activities we engage in each day must reinforce and reward those values. Otherwise, we will be pulled away by other activities that give us greater satisfaction. Nothing impacts our performance more than our value structure.
The three critical values required for success as a 21st century financial advisor are:
Utilitarian/Economic — Having a core interest in money and what is useful. Self-worth is reinforced and rewarded by financial gain.
Theoretical — Having a core interest in learning. Self-worth is reinforced and rewarded through mastering important subjects and areas of interest.
Traditional/Regulatory — Having a core interest in rules, standards of performance and guidelines for performance. Self-worth is rewarded and reinforced through meeting compliance and other important requirements.
To make certain your motivational forces are hitting on all cylinders, consider the following. For Utilitarian/Economic: Do you have a 12-month personal income goal that drives you to the extent that you measure your weekly and quarterly progress? For Theoretical: Are you expanding your knowledge on a daily basis, whether it be in estate law, in defined benefits, in working towards a CFP designation or in learning more about how the affluent make financial decisions? For Traditional/Regulatory: Are you continually taking steps to apply the latest regulatory guidelines as efficiently as possible? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, are you willing to begin right now?
If you are driven by other values, your motivation is likely to wane and you'll lose focus. Obviously, the more frequently this happens, the less productive you will be.
I have seen this happen more times than I like to recall. Instead of doing what they know they need to do, financial advisors are drawn into such things as getting unnecessary degrees and designations, teaching classes on topics unrelated to finances, volunteering to work with people who will never become clients or taking off on spontaneous adventures.
There is nothing wrong with any of this. This is a self-motivation issue, not a right vs. wrong issue. If you are driven by a value structure that is different than the one your job rewards, your performance will suffer. It's as basic as that.
Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com