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Job Satisfaction

Our studies of wealth-management teams have provided clear empirical evidence that job satisfaction is directly tied to the team's effort to improve performance as the team progresses through stages of development.

Chicago: "Every time I suggest contacting our top clients and discussing comprehensive wealth management with them, our senior partner resists," said Robert at the beginning of our conversation. "We've been a team for three years," he went on, "and the four clients we've approached about upgrading to that level of service love it -- and it generated new revenue! I don't understand what's holding Steve back. It goes against everything we discussed when I joined his team."

Robert is a CFP with eight years of experience. He said he was recruited by Steve, a perennial million-dollar producer, to, as Steve put it, "help me monetize my $400 million in assets and take over my business when I retire." From that conversation emerged the R & S Wealth Management Group. I did some further probing.

I discovered that their monetary split, often a problem area, is simple math. After pooling all of their assets, they established a split based on what each brought to the table. Robert currently has 15% of the business and the opportunity to eventually buy Steve out. Except for market movement, they haven't grown, and Robert's role has basically been reduced to covering for Steve when he's on vacation -- which turns out to be four to six months a year.

Then, there's Marsha, the team's practice manager. She has been Steve's personal sales assistant for 10 years. Marsha was quick to agree with Robert about the importance of expanding their services beyond investments. "We lost two clients recently," she complained to me. "One died, but the other left to go with a financial planner. You would think that Steve would be alarmed, and he was for about a week. Then he took off for his winter home in Arizona." You don't need a Harvard MBA to smell trouble brewing in the R & S Wealth Management Group.

*Is Robert satisfied with his role? No, even though his situation could be rationalized as the 'price to pay' for having the opportunity to ultimately purchase Steve's $400 million book.

*Is Marsha satisfied with her role? No, in spite of having spent 10 years assisting Steve.

*Is Steve satisfied? Absolutely! He's working part-time, receiving the same compensation as when he was working full time, and having his clients cared for by Marsha and Robert.

Job satisfaction is no longer simply a bleeding-heart human resource issue. Our 2003 through 2006 studies of wealth-management teams have provided clear empirical evidence that job satisfaction is directly tied to the team's effort to improve performance as the team progresses through predictable stages of development.

Robert and Marsha see the need, and have the desire, to upgrade their practice, thus improving their ability to retain affluent clients. They want to become a wealth-management team capable of serving the multidimensional aspects of their affluent clients' financial affairs. When I first talked with them, neither was willing to be confrontational and bring this issue to a head with Steve.

The Steves of our industry need to look closely at the transition they want to orchestrate. Simply expanding their own support team does a disservice to the younger advisor(s) and support staff they bring on board. They need to build a true wealth-management team -- and make certain they learn to perform at a level that will keep the wolves from the door. Steve already lost one client to a financial planner. More will certainly leave if Steve doesn't immediately start working with Robert and Marsha to deliver the full range of wealth-management services that will earn ongoing client loyalty.

Our 2003-2006 research identified 15 performance factors that separate high-performance teams from all the others. Here are four factors that need to be applied immediately to ensure the increasing job satisfaction and survival of
the R & S Wealth Management Group ...

1. Steve and Robert need a business plan that covers the time period when Steve will be phasing out. Equally important, they need to clearly define specific business strategies and activities for retaining clients, upgrading clients, and attracting new affluent clients. By upgrading, I specifically mean bringing in new assets from current clients as a result of upgrading the wealth-management services those clients receive.

2. They need to determine how they will expand their categories of financial products and services. Investment (asset) management, retirement planning, and insurance planning are not sufficient. They need to determine how they will phase in and offer education planning, tax planning, charitable giving planning, budgeting and cash-flow management, banking services, and long-term care.

3. Roles and responsibilities need to be spelled out -- beginning with Steve, Robert, and Marsha. That will enable them to determine what other specialists they will need, either as team members or strategic partners.

4. The team needs a written compensation agreement that is perceived by Steve, Robert, and Marsha as both fair and performance driven. That means linking Robert and Marsha's compensation increases directly to individual and team performance improvement

Job satisfaction means what it says -- satisfaction from performing one's role and responsibilities with excellence, and knowing exactly how those efforts are contributing to achieving team goals. An important aspect of improving job satisfaction is to be clear about each team member's areas of responsibility and how those responsibilities contribute to achieving team goals. To help with that challenge, we are offering free guidelines on Organizing Areas of Responsibility. To download, go to:

If you are serious about attracting more affluent client, you should attend the Rainmaker Weekend at Myrtle Beach, October 7 & 8. To register or learn more, go to: Rainmaker Weekend.

If you have any topic or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep, and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].

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