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How to Develop Elite Talent as a Financial Advisor

Practice—and ambition—makes perfect.

Are you interested in a seven-figure income? If so, you’re in the right profession. Now for the multi-million dollar question—are you willing to develop the talents of an elite financial advisor?

I’m going to assume your answers are “Yes” and “Yes.” This will make what I’m about to share extremely relevant. However, there are a few qualifiers. 

First, are you capable of calling someone you know of but don’t know personally, and in a relaxed but confident, concise manner suggest that you get together for coffee, a drink or a bite to eat? My guess is that you’re capable. It might be a tad uncomfortable, but you’re capable.

Secondly, are you able to connect with this person on a personal level? You’re able to develop rapport to the extent that they like you and you like them. Probably not so far out of your comfort zone, if at all, and again my bet is that you can.

And finally, are you able to make a call to action in the form of a “mini-close?” We’re talking a dinner or party invitation, a round of golf, getting involved in a charitable event that’s dear to your heart, and so on. Probably so, but at this stage there might be a bit of hesitation. Why? Because maybe you’re worried about coming across as too pushy, salesy or maybe you don’t want to experience what you might perceive as the “pain” of being turned down, or maybe you’re simply overthinking yourself into the analysis–paralysis trap.

Regardless of the reasons for inaction, elite financial advisors have mastered the aforementioned but not with friends, rather with top clients, referral alliance partners and wealthy and powerful prospects. They target and they call and they meet and they connect and they ask.

Many analogies have been made between elite advisors and elite athletes. But there’s a distinct difference. Elite athletes have been gifted with a particular sports gene (read The Sports Gene by David Epstein) that provides them with a distinct advantage that enables them to tap into their talent through deliberate practice. Whereas an argument can be made for elite financial advisors being gifted with an ambition gene—but I’ve not seen any form of scientific research supporting that theory. In other words, for the majority of financial advisors the opportunity is basically equal.

In my 40 years of coaching financial advisors, I’ve yet to encounter one that couldn’t excel in the activities previously mentioned; uncover a target, make a phone call, meet with targeted prospect, connect with targeted prospect and mini-close with a call to action.

But something’s missing. Without any scientific genetic evidence, and this is purely anecdotal, it’s ambition. Seven-figure incomes don’t grow on trees, they don’t fall into the lap of someone who loves his or her profession and does a good quality job for clients. These incomes are the result of consistent activity, often out-of-comfort zone activity that is part-in-parcel to ambition. It’s this consistent activity that becomes intentional practice. These financial advisors become extremely talented at relationship management and relationship marketing and uncovering opportunities.

And all of this stems from the fact that they’ve been willing to proactively prospect. Whether it’s calling a wealthy prospect, or meeting with a top client to ask to be introduced to his business partner, or having lunch with a CPA to create or strengthen a referral alliance. It’s the execution of these activities when they were uncomfortable, when they were tired or when they simply didn’t really want to.

As we all know, anyone can do what they need to do when they want to. But elite advisors have been able to hone the skills necessary to navigate naturally in the world of wealth; socially and professionally. Hence they’re able to sell their professional services where many of their colleagues hesitate. 

One group develops skills that are seamless, while the other is still thinking about taking action. Think of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours (albeit his thesis has been somewhat controversial with experts in the world of talent), the “right” activity, executed consistently, leads to skill development, which over time transforms into talent.

The result—the elite advisor has a high probability of establishing a very profitable referral alliance, while the regular advisor licks his wounds and doesn’t call another accountant for six months. Multiply that scenario over the course of a financial advisor’s career, and the outcome is obvious. One financial advisor has created a wonderful life while the other has a job.  

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

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