How would you like to be the first professional contacted when anyone in the affluent centers-of-influence in your community has issues or concerns about any aspect of their finances? If that sounds like a pipe dream — and, sadly, it is for too many financial advisors — it doesn't have to be.
All of our research highlights one undeniable fact. Today's affluent investors are not comfortable amidst this lingering financial crisis (9 of 10 would entertain a second opinion on their family's portfolio.) In order to capitalize on this opportunity, advisors need to take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then venture outside their professional comfort zones.
You don't need a performance coach to expand your comfort zone. All motivation comes from within, and the willingness to learn and grow is an internal quality. Unfortunately, as we settle into our adult lives, the tendency is to develop habits, both in attitude and behavior, that define our professional comfort zones. From my vantage point, this is arguably the greatest challenge facing veteran advisors today.
Let's put a stop to this. The following four steps have proved extremely helpful to advisors who were serious about expanding their comfort zones.
Step 1 - Make an outline of all the good things that would occur by committing yourself to taking full advantage of investor dissatisfaction. If you were able to consistently provide second opinions for affluent prospects in your community, what would the impact be on your business? Maybe you'd be able to take that dream family vacation, build your dream home, pay off your debt, etc. The idea is to let your mind free-flow with the rewards you will enjoy by expanding your comfort zone.
Next, go back over your outline before going to bed, and drift off to sleep with images of your rewards running through your mind. When you awaken in the morning, as you drink your first cup of coffee, highlight the one reward that you truly want to work towards, and go for it.
Step 2 - Make a list of all aspects of your professional role that you enjoy. Do you like following the markets? Do you enjoy talking with clients about their portfolios? Do you enjoy researching investments? Do you enjoy working with your staff?
Next, review your list and highlight every one of these tasks that you consider yourself to be extremely proficient in performing. Then place a check mark next to any that pull you outside of your comfort zone. If you're like most advisors, you'll have a lot of highlights and few if any check marks.
Step 3 - Make a list of everything that makes you uncomfortable regarding prospecting amongst affluent centers-of-influence. Are you afraid of being rejected? Do you worry about being perceived as a salesperson? Are you self-conscious about asking someone with money and influence for their business?
Next, review your list and highlight the specific prospecting activities that would help you capitalize on today's opportunities. Then place a check mark next to any that would cause you serious bodily harm. Ha! You get the idea - most will be highlighted and none are likely to cause harm.
Step 4 - Now that you've listed your out-of-comfort zone prospecting activities, which ones will you start doing and when? Obviously, you need to start doing the prospecting activities you highlighted, but the idea is to break these activities into fixed daily activities whenever possible, such as finding an opportunity to offer one second opinion every day.
Next, go back over your list of what you enjoy doing and determine what can be delegated. You will need to stop doing some activities in order to start doing the prospecting activities that pull you outside your comfort zone. Think only in terms of what can be delegated, not what you enjoy. Many advisors have fallen into the trap of avoidance patterns by doing activities that could be delegated; this keeps them busy, and they rationalize to themselves that they really enjoy these activities.
You will expand your professional comfort zone by creating a habit of making yourself uncomfortable. This has become a serious challenge for many advisors. Accept the challenge and you will reap the rewards accompanying today's affluent opportunities. Let's make the fourth quarter of 2010 your tipping point for comfort zone expansion.
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com