Atlanta: "Sometimes I get the feeling that the affluent are expecting too much out of us," lamented John during a New World Advisor workshop. He then admitted, "I'm just not certain I'm cut out to be a 'superman' advisor."
Poor John. I don't think that he's going to throw in the towel on a 20 year career. At the same time, it's essential for him to re-group quickly, which will require embracing the leadership component of our New World Advisor model.
Like many advisors, John needs to engage in self-leadership: he needs to sell himself on making the necessary changes that will enable him to not only continue a career that he once enjoyed, but to capitalize on the opportunities that are at the finger-tips of every advisor who has his eyes wide open. And what's amazing, whenever this occurs, suddenly the "fun' of being a financial advisor returns. Interesting how that works.
Leadership is a term that is little understood and rarely used to describe financial advisors. However, it is a key component of every elite advisor. Our findings regarding today's affluent tell us exactly what they are looking for in a financial advisor. They aren't looking for an advisor in John's mold - someone who is slightly burned-out, resistant to change, and overwhelmed with the new world order. Hardly! Today's affluent investor is looking for someone who can gather and assimilate information, transform that information into knowledge, and provide them with unbiased advice and guidance regarding their family's financial affairs.
Here is a simple outline of elite advisor leadership:
1) Self: They are totally committed to being New World Advisors, fully capable of meeting and exceeding today's affluent investor's expectations.
2) Clients - Today's affluent want a financial advisor who is able to take the lead and guide their families towards their financial goals.
3) Support Personnel - In order to take a leadership role with clients, an advisor first must take the lead with support personnel and team members.
4) Prospects - With slight modification leadership is also an essential ingredient in the transition of an affluent prospect into becoming a client. Yes, leadership involves seamless affluent sales skills.
5) Strategic Referral Alliances - Leadership is also a requirement in being able to establish healthy and productive strategic referral alliances with CPAs, estate attorneys and the like.
New World Advisors excel at developing all aspects of leadership outlined above. Why? Because they take leadership seriously. Yet, the average advisor struggles. If you were a CPA, would you enjoy being around John? Would you refer him any clients?
Drawing from our research projects, the following are leadership factors that financial advisors should strive to embody:
Inspire and direct - support staff, team members, strategic referral partners, current clients, and affluent prospects all need to believe that their financial advisors have a strong grasp of today's realities. They also want to be assured that their advisors have a plan for the future. John better get busy.
Solve problems - this is the #1 criteria today's affluent investors use when to assess their financial advisors. It is also one of the qualities found in effective leaders of elite teams.
Open minded - Change is a constant and although it can be overwhelming, elite advisors are always open to new ideas. Why? Because they are always looking towards the future. This is why New World Advisors are able to meet the expectations of today's affluent on each of the 16 criteria that have statistical importance for them. They have been open to making the necessary changes. Which is the message I communicated to John.
Knowledgeable - In order to be capable of inspiring and directing, top advisors have develop a healthy capacity for learning.
Risk taking - This has nothing to do with investment decisions. What I'm referring to are the psychological risks associated with being wrong. No advisor, not even today's elite advisors, are always right. At times they fail outright. However, whether it's communicating a recovery strategy to a current client or personally selling their services to an affluent prospect, New World Advisors have the emotional strength to be wrong or accept a rejection. They also learn from their mistakes.
Suffice it to say that the affluent client/financial advisor relationship has changed. Today's affluent investor wants a confident knowledge worker who can advise and guide them in both good and tough times.
Advisors in John's mold need to take heed -- because as we pull out of this crisis, as the markets hopefully continue to creep in the right direction, there will be a tendency to relax and focus on portfolio performance. But our research is clear--today's affluent investors are not giving their financial advisors credit for the recent recovery in the markets--and their portfolios. But they will hold advisors accountable for creating good long-term plans that take into account the many dimensions of their families' financial affairs--and that requires leadership.
Having affluent sales skills is a key aspect of leadership in elite advisors. To assess your affluent sales skills take our FREE Affluent Sales Skills Assessment. Enjoy!
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.
If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected]