Greensboro: "I'm not going to sugarcoat anything. I listened to your 'Winning in Tough Times' webinar and that's exactly what we needed to hear. My advisors are weary; it's as though they're blaming themselves for this 'financial tsunami,'" explained Robert on our pre-event conference call. "I've recommended counseling to advisors more now than at any time in my career."
Robert is a senior executive for a major financial firm concerned about career threatening burnout. He expressed his frustration as he prepped me for an upcoming presentation his firm had asked me to deliver to his advisors. Essentially the message was simple: Before my advisors can lead their clients through these tough times, they need to learn how to take care of themselves.
This is the time of year when many people make resolutions in an attempt to better themselves. Because this "category 5 financial tsunami" has pulled many advisors off track—both professionally and personally—and is still in our midst, I think it makes sense to focus your New Year's resolutions on taking care of yourself. Remember, if Berkshire Hathaway hasn't been able to avoid this storm, the reality is that it's outside any individual's command. The first requirement in taking care of yourself is to recognize what's outside your control and then to focus your attention on the things you can control.
That said, it is important that we count our blessings, take an honest reality check of both our current attitude and actions, and begin plans for growth in 2009.
As an advisor, you must stop beating yourself up for investments that didn't work out as planned, cease owning your client's panic and discontinue the worry of losing clients. Worry is a cancer to productivity and leads to paralysis. Far too many financial professionals—advisors, wholesalers, planners and managers—are paralyzed. And nothing is more detrimental to one's career.
It's time to "stand tall." That means taking care of yourself and getting back into a healthy offensive mode with your business. That should be the theme of every advisor for 2009. Our research tells us only 3.9 percent of advisors have gone on offense. This reveals that paralysis remains, and that there is little competition for advisors who are prospecting for new affluent clients.
Benefits Of "Rainmaking" In Tough Times
The affluent are craving advisors who can lead them through this category 5 financial tsunami. Although there is no cookie-cutter solution or magic formula, there are some basic tenets that advisors should pay attention to.
* Attitude: Your attitude is contagious—good or bad. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School, authored a 20-year study of over 4,000 people. He concluded that happiness is transmissible and that "emotions have a collective existence." In other words, your attitude directly impacts your interaction with clients and prospects.
* Actions: Actions that are linked to goals (personal and professional) are the best tonic for dealing with tough times. In the midst of this unprecedented situation, actions send a stronger message than anything that can be said. Because of the aforementioned attitude of advisors, many clients sense their advisors don't have a clue about creating a recovery strategy for them. Clients also sense that advisors are more concerned about their personal portfolios. The result is that the trust factor has been damaged across the board-all of which can repaired by actions coupled with an attitude adjustment.
* Caring: The affluent want an advisor who cares about them beyond their portfolio. Advisors who take care of themselves are in much better shape to truly care about their clients. In today's environment, the more time you can spend with your clients (action) and interact with their families (action and attitude), the more you strengthen client loyalty, the easier it is to penetrate their centers-of-influence and the better you feel about yourself (attitude).
Taking care of yourself requires always working towards maintaining balance in your lifestyle. A balanced lifestyle promotes health by strengthening our immune system, which serves as a buffer against the stress and negativity of tough times.
To kick-off the New Year I want to share with you a Balanced Lifestyle Profile Assessment that we have been using. I created this assessment out of our recent research on affluent psychographics, which uncovered four key motivators: personal health, family health, financial health and spiritual health. (For more on the research, read The Affluent Handbook.)
The following action plan is designed to help you recharge your batteries. If this can have some degree of positive impact on your attitude and actions, it will carry over to your clients and prospects. The idea is to take time to take care of yourself while you expand your business in 2009.
1. Take the Balanced Lifestyle Profile Assessment.
2. Identify four areas that you will commit to work on to improve your balance.
3. Pass this Balanced Lifestyle Profile Assessment (forward the link) to your team and select clients.
4. Communicate the importance of creating a healthy balance for 2009.
5. Follow-up with everyone on their Balanced Lifestyle Profile Assessment issues, sharing the areas that you are working to improve. This has "I care about you" written all over it.
6. Discuss with team members-not clients-the four areas they will commit to improve.
7. Finally, develop an outline for your 2009 offensive game plan.
This is the time of year to reflect, refuel, re-balance, plan and get prepared to make 2009 the year of confidence, health and growth. Now that's "Winning in Tough Times."
For a copy of our Balanced Lifestyle Profile Assessment document, visit our free download center.
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].