COVID-19 has bankrupted a long list of companies, many of which were struggling pre-COVID-19; Neiman Marcus, Hertz (which owns Dollar and Thrifty), Brooks Brothers, and J. Crew are among them. Each of these firms has one thing in common, they didn’t pivot at the first sign of disruption.
What gives? The disrupters people encounter in life rarely lead to positive behavioral change. Are we so resistant to change that we will continue walking down a destructive path even though we know it’s not a good idea? The answer’s ‘yes’ for the poor souls who go through life too stubborn to change or collecting excuses and passing blame. It’s ‘no’ for the goal-focused who are aware of life’s realities, and therefore continually make the necessary adjustments as they work towards their goals.
The world of financial advisors, like the majority of western civilization, has been turned upside down. It’s been disrupted. We’ve all been forced to pivot. However, the professional disruption that COVID-19 has dealt financial advisors has a silver lining for forward-thinkers willing to make the necessary adjustments.
The key to any disruption is addressing it strategically. The following 28 questions pertain to basic areas we’ve seen disrupted and that might require making some necessary adjustments—pivoting. The objective is to get you to think, identify a handful of actions that will align to your forward-thinking, and pivot accordingly.
Remaining in close contact, professionally and personally, with clients and centers of influence (COIs).
1. Are you consistently providing superior financial guidance while strengthening your emotional connection with both clients and COIs?
2. What changes have you made because of the COVID disruption?
3. How are you managing these relationships virtually?
4. What are you doing to wow your relationships during this pandemic?
Having a strong personal brand that allows you to capitalize on the power of word-of-mouth-influence, facilitate personal introductions, and have people seeking your opinion.
5. Are you comfortable with your digital footprint (website, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?
6. Are you getting personal introductions from clients and COIs both virtually and face-to-face?
7. Are you strategically using social media as both a relationship management and marketing tool? Does this include video?
8. Are you posting content that builds your personal brand?
Continually filling your pipeline with qualified prospects and transforming the majority of them into clients.
9. Are you introducing yourself to prospects virtually? If so, how?
10. How would you rate your sales presentation during a virtual meeting?
11. What could you do to improve your virtual meetings?
12. What, if anything, has changed when you meet a prospect face-to-face?
13. What, if anything, is different between working a virtual and face-to-face prospect through your pipeline?
Operational efficiency requires team members who collaborate, communicate, support each other, have the necessary office equipment, and are client-centric.
14. Is each team member's remote office fully functional?
15. Do team members collaborate and help each other when necessary?
16. Are you leveraging any collaboration technology (Asana, Monday.com, etc.) to manage internal projects?
17. Are you holding weekly team meetings? If so, are they effective with everyone contributing?
18. How are you conducting individual performance reviews?
Technology has always played an important role in the world of financial services, and now it’s front and center in every home office.
19. Do you use cloud-based file sharing that’s accessible to all team members?
20. Does everyone have high-speed internet? If so, do they know how to check its speed?
21. Does everyone have a quality webcam?
22. Does everyone have a quality microphone?
23. Does everyone have good webcam lighting?
When faced with serious challenges, strong leaders always distinguish themselves from their peers.
24. Do you have a vision of a post-COVID-19 world that you’re communicating to your team?
25. Do you have clear COVID-19-adjusted goals that your entire team has bought into?
26. Are you focused?
27. Are you leading by example?
28. Are you leading your team in making the necessary adjustments for the post-COVID-19 world?
The disruption caused by this pandemic didn’t spark the need for financial advisors to pivot; it has simply served as an accelerant. The future is now for those who are prepared. Hopefully one or two of these questions will help you identify a pivot—as one pivot inevitably leads to another.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com