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The New 3-Legged Stool for Success

Many of today’s most successful advisors have had a change in priorities.

Very few need to be reminded after two-plus years of dealing with a global pandemic that, on a fundamental basis, our priorities have changed. Take a few moments and reflect on that.

Quality time with family and socializing with friends is more of a priority. Having a healthy and comfortable home environment is now even more important (including a well-appointed home office). Work flexibility is essential. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

This doesn’t mean we’ve put our careers on the back burner. Hardly! Which is why it might be helpful to redefine what constitutes a successful career as a financial advisor. Our research has been able to highlight elite advisors and wealth management teams and has provided an excellent model for advisors to emulate.

Back in 2006 when I wrote Becoming a Rainmaker (which is still worth reading), a Rainmaker’s 3-legged stool was introduced. The legs were mindset, activities and skills. With a slight adjustment, these qualities are alive and well. 

But many of today’s most successful advisors have had a change in priorities, hence the new 3-legged stool. The legs now being passion, discipline, and emotional connectivity. Incidentally, this stool could represent success in any profession. 

Passion – You must love what you do. Period! This should go without saying, but so many people don’t really like their jobs. These people often tend to become cynical and stop learning. There’s little or no professional development, a lack of curiosity and ultimately they’re just going through the motions. You’ve heard the refrain that a person “has been in the business for 25 years with only 2 years of experience.” It’s sad, but true in many cases.

This leg of the stool is a must if you want to maintain a breadth and depth of industry knowledge. In today’s complex and fluid world this is a monumental task and an ongoing responsibility. Which is why passion is so critical. Loving what you do makes you more likely to seek information. 

Discipline – What is discipline? It’s actually consistently doing what you need to do, even when you’d rather be doing something else. Observe people for a couple of days and you can write your own thesis on the topic. My observation is that many people aren’t very disciplined. 

Think of exercise as an example. Talk to anyone who exercises regularly and they’ll tell you about the days where they have to force themselves to go to the gym, take their walk, etc. But they’ll also tell you that once they get started they get into it and feel great afterward. The fact that they’re likely to be healthier is the result of this discipline.

The same holds true for a financial advisor with discipline. There are many occasions when they do what is necessary even when, for whatever reason, they might rather be doing something else. Their discipline prevails and they immerse themselves into doing what needs to be done. And yes, just like exercise, they feel great afterward.

Discipline is what makes a financial advisor dependable, which is essential for developing loyal clients. It’s required if you want a reputation as someone who can always be counted on.

Emotional Connectivity – If we’re not careful, we assume we’re connecting with everyone important to us. Sadly, this isn’t true. Our research continues to highlight the perception gap between affluent clients and financial advisors in this area. There’s a 50 percentage point gap in perception; 75% of advisors think they have an emotional connection with their affluent clients, while 25% of clients feel the same way. This is a BIG disconnect and important even beyond loyalty-building. Having an emotional connection generates 3x more unsolicited referrals than in all-business relationships. 

Today’s advisors who are passionate, disciplined, and have mastered the art of emotional connectivity have loyal clients and team members, can always be depended on, and are receiving unsolicited referrals from positive word-of-mouth influence. Voila! The new 3-legged stool for success. 

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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