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The Shortest Path to Excellence

Taking the steps to deliver better service, drive growth and achieve your goals faster can result in extraordinary benefits.

Excellence is something every advisor strives for. But some advisors are not willing to wait to achieve what they define as “excellence” but instead are on a quest to find the fastest and most efficient way to get there.

Rob Nelson, CEO and founder of Minneapolis-based NorthRock Partners, stated in a recent podcast interview that this quest led him to always ask, “What is the shortest path to excellence?”

Rob said it’s one of the most critical questions he asks himself and his team when making big business decisions.

There is so much wisdom in this query, not the least of which is that every advisor, no matter where they practice, should be focused on excellence. That is, raising the bar with respect to client service, business management, growth, team support and investment acumen, to name a few.  

Whether focused on growth or not, the best advisors in the industry always check in with themselves to ensure they are doing everything they can to optimally serve clients and grow their businesses. But, as Rob shared, it’s not just about achieving excellence; it’s about achieving it faster.

Why Is Faster Better?

Most will undoubtedly reach some level of excellence in their business lives. So why accelerate the process?

Because for advisors, achieving it in three years versus seven, 10, or 20 years comes with benefits:

Best for Clients: First and foremost, getting to excellence quickly helps clients by accelerating better advice and services, achieving greater outcomes, and ultimately equipping them to make a bigger impact.

Business Value: Creating a business that fires on all cylinders sooner rather than later translates to one that is valued higher in the long run.

Recruiting Deals: Advisors who demonstrate a higher level of productivity with a shorter length of service are often most sought after and offered the best transition deals should they choose to make a move.

No Chips on the Table: If you don’t whole-heartedly believe that the status quo offers everything you need to achieve your goals, then you’re leaving chips on the table.

Client Demands: Unmet client demands seldom go unnoticed, especially in a hyper-competitive landscape where they have more choices than ever before. Failing to deliver best-in-class service today puts you at risk of losing clients tomorrow.

Beating Burnout: It’s inevitable to get worn down by daily business demands and the need for scale. Getting to excellence sooner maximizes your energy and resources—and ensures you’re still having fun in the process.

How to Foster Excellence in Your Business

The good news is that excellence is not only possible, it’s more attainable than ever, as the ecosystem born to support advisors has never been more robust and accessible. For some advisors, changing firms or models is the only path to excellence, while others can realize their vision of excellence where they are.

So, what are advisors like Rob doing to accelerate their paths to excellence?

Bolstering Their Teams: It is critical to ensure you are staffed properly and have the right folks in the right seats. This might mean hiring next gen advisors or migrating smaller relationships to free up capacity.

Exploring New Partnerships: Joining up with another advisor or team with complementary skill sets and resources can get you to the next level and provide continuity for clients.

Improving Technology: Upgrading your tech stack can drive efficiencies and enhance the client experience.

Creating Greater Scale: The value of scale extends to improving efficiency, expanding service capabilities, and ultimately having the resources to remain relevant and competitive.

Changing Firm or Models: If you’re feeling limited or held back by your firm, there are more options than ever before to help you accelerate growth and become the best version of yourself.

Considering a Sale or Merger: Sometimes, what got you here isn’t enough to get you there. While advisors are often reluctant to give up equity and cede some level of control, the right merger or acquisition partner can lead to substantial synergies—and turbocharge growth.

As Rob Nelson said, “I not only want to live a life of excellence, but I want to be able to participate in it, to embrace it, and to have the time to enjoy it. I would rather live in a world of excellence at age 50 than wait until I’m in my 60s or 70s.”  

You might be surprised how small changes in the short run can lead to tremendous improvements in the long run.


Mindy Diamond is CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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