Leave a comment

Introverts, Extroverts, and How to Manage Your Energy

Running your own financial planning practice or building your ‘book of business’ within firm takes an enormous amount of energy.  In fact, more than you may have ever imagined!

It’s important to keep your energy accessible, ready to support you to achieve results you want. To do so, you need to be in tune with your best way to recharge. How you restore your energy may be very different than the way your colleague down the hall keeps his stamina.

Some people get their charge from outward interaction, social settings and talking ideas out loud. Other folks prefer to consider ideas, pictures, thoughts, images and keep their focus internal or confide in a few close friends.

Myers Briggs as an Energy Indicator
I am smack in the middle of the introvert/extrovert continuum as defined by the Myers Briggs Personality Test. In other words, I waver within a tight range of whether I regain energy internally or externally versus swinging wide to one of the extremes. In concert with this knowledge I keep an allegretto pace between modest internal and modest outward interaction to keep my energy at the right level for me.

I take time to do yoga or work quietly in my office, but then I want to be out connecting, talking with friends or interacting with colleagues. I bounce back and forth within a day or a week to ensure that I keep my batteries charged by balancing the scales.

That’s what works for me. If you are extremely internally focused, you may need more “alone time” to feel at your best, blocking out time away from clients and colleagues; an outgoing socializer may need to attend more conferences, work at a larger firm, or share office space with other professionals.

Riding the Pendulum Swing
Of course, our normal pattern can be disrupted. After my father passed away in December, I took an extreme internal dive to process and recharge. I spent the end of the year and January more to myself, keeping interaction with only a few clients while I experienced a deep dip of emotion. Going inside—the extreme end of ‘introvert’—was exactly what I required at that time.

After about six weeks I hit a point where I needed outward social interaction—engagement—to energize each day.  Refreshed through my social withdrawal, I could muster the motivation energy that lives within to take on something big. Having gone deep on the internal side (whether with intention or by circumstance), I emerged with a full court press on the outbound social, interaction side.

I took on a BIG project—my Implement Now! Telesummit for Independent Advisors, immersing 100 percent in the extrovert world.  I feel incredibly charged, even more than my normal high level. Yes, I am excited and driven by my content, my contribution and the impact I am making on the industry; however, I believe I am able to maintain ‘above-and-beyond’ energy because of the wide swing of the pendulum.

Anticipate Your Energy
Knowing what you have to do to light up all of your circuits takes self evaluation, understanding where and how you feel your best. Because ‘life happens’ and we can’t know all that will occur, when you can anticipate your ‘recharge’ needs you will be able to plan in your recovery. I know that while I can exceed my normal energy level for my upcoming event, I will need a mini retreat afterward to maintain endurance for the year.

You’ll find me in Kaua’i. Aloha!

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco, CA

Leave a comment

The Biggest Killer of Motivation Is . . .



The first time I heard this quote, I was surprised. After all, who would guess that success could have a negative effect on motivation? But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

How many times have you heard an adviser say, “It worked so well I quit doing it”? Once the struggles of the first few years in the business are behind them, it’s not usual for more experienced advisers to stop doing some of the things that made them successful in the first place.

This can be especially true when it comes to focusing on top-line growth. A great example is the practice of asking clients for introductions to others. As advisers become increasingly successful, many seem to forget about the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to grow their business.

Have You Made a Conscious Decision about Growth?
Who’s to say when a firm should continue growing and when it’s fine to stop? Especially in the independent world, ongoing growth is a matter of choice. If an adviser’s own perception is that he or she is successful, is there really a need to continually focus on growth?

It may not matter if you consciously choose to create a lifestyle practice, where the top line is secondary to lifestyle choices. The trouble comes when you change course without even realizing it. Eventually, you may be surprised to discover that the firm’s top line is declining.

The scenario isn’t difficult to imagine: One day, you realize that an increasing number of clients are passing away, most of your remaining clients are in distribution mode, and you haven’t brought in enough new clients to replace the assets leaving the firm. At the same time, you discover that you’re “out of shape” in terms of doing the activities required to sustain long-term growth. On top of that, imagine that you begin to experience client attrition because you have no succession plan, and new clients want a long-term relationship with their advisory firm.

The moral here is that we should never take success for granted. While advisers may choose to back off growth for a slower pace, some level of growth is essential to a business’s long-term health and vitality.

Joni YoungwirthJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


Your Product Is You

When a buyer wants something, and a seller provides it, a transaction occurs. However, before a sale is made, the buyer must evaluate what is being sold against the criteria he or she uses to judge value.

As a seller of services, what you know, what you do, how you think, what you believe, how you speak, and how you work all define you; indeed, you are the product. In parallel, buyers judge you according to three main hiring criteria: your expertise/reputation; trustworthiness; care/concern.

Against these criteria, consider the following challenges people face when evaluating practitioners like you:

Challenges When Evaluating Practitioners for Hire


Comparisons are difficult

Judging different credentials, evaluating experience, and reviewing the quality of past solutions are beyond the abilities of most prospects

Key hiring criteria are a matter of heart

Of the three hiring criteria—expertise/reputation; trustworthiness; care/concern—the latter two relate to the practitioner’s morals, ethics, values and beliefs

Worry as motivator

Anxiety for the future is a difficult-to-define force, but highly relevant

Solutions are complex

Implementing a planning/investment solution involves highly technical tools and language

The downside is great

Making a wrong decision can have catastrophic, lifelong implications

Word-of-Mouth Introductions
Given these challenges, a large majority of people are disinclined to undertake an evaluation without guidance. The Oechsli Institute, in a study titled “Understanding Today’s Affluent Investor: Managing Affluent Relationships,” discovered that the overwhelming method people used to identify an adviser involved personal introductions. (Note: this is word-of-mouth influence and not a client giving a referral list to his or her adviser).

Method Used to Identify an Adviser


Introduced by another professional


Introduced by a family member


I approached her/him directly


Introduced by a friend




She/he approached me directly


Introduced by a colleague


The study concluded:

“The number one method today’s affluent investor used to find their current financial adviser was a personal introduction. Whether from a friend, a colleague, a family member, or another professional, word-of-mouth influence was at work.”

The First Meeting … First Impressions
A person who learns about you through an introduction takes the first of many steps in the hiring process. The next step is to review your website and learn about you (as it is for people doing a direct Internet search).

Your homepage is your store front. How a store front looks and how it merchandises products in the window determines whether a passerby will decide to make an initial commitment and enter the store or continue walking.

So it is with your website homepage. The key difference is the product being merchandised is you.

At this stage, you don’t even know a potential prospect is at hand, but there is a meeting taking place; unfortunately, it’s a meeting in which you are not physically present. Yet, first impressions are formed, and the resulting opinion determines in large measure whether your site visitor chooses to call you for an appointment, send an email inquiry or consider other practitioners instead.

Effective Product Merchandising
Although this first “meeting” is electronic, prospects want to know about you just as though you were there to tell them.

  • Why you feel your work is important.
  • What motivates you to serve.
  • Why you believe what you do.
  • How you attend to clients’ needs, anxieties and aspirations.
  • How your solutions solve problems.
  • Why you’re someone who can be relied upon.

This content rightly resides in your bio as well as describing the firm’s mission statements; each should represent the core of your website’s content. Write passionately about how your solutions benefit your clients’ futures, even to successive generations. Use actual pictures to give evidence of your trustworthiness and care/concern in action. Tell how your solutions brought valuable client benefits, including peace of mind, confidence and comfort.

Equally true, your website is an active storybook. Too often, website content, once produced, sits idle even as important advancements are made in the business and with clients. A store that never changes its window merchandising will be ignored.

This is not to say your website service descriptions are unimportant. They are just less important than you. Think of it this way, before any service can be delivered, you must be hired first. It is you that transforms a service that otherwise could be provided by innumerable practitioners into something special. Each time you transform services into valuable client solutions, a new story is to be told.

Kirk LouryKirk Loury
President, Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey  

Leave a comment

Development Rules All

Looking at cases where employees leave financial planning firms—whether by their own choice or not, “development” is one of the most common missing components. Whether firms are not meeting objectives, or team members are not working to their full potential, “development” or more of it is needed.

Why is this so challenging?

We’re not prepared to work on “development.” We think we have enough of a plan or path, or we’re not sure how to start.

Who Needs to Develop?
Start at the top. Leaders need to assess their readiness, their ability to lead. Who in the firm wants to help in developing others? Leaders have to learn and develop their skills so they can give the best development opportunities to employees. This takes careful evaluation, patience and time.

Then, work through the firm. No one and nothing stays in the same place or position forever.   Everyone on the team should identify areas to be better, to develop more.

Development has to be tied to higher initiatives, goals or missions. The mission and values of the firm are established and tied to what we will do for our clients and our employees. Once a firm knows what it is willing to do for employees in their development, the firm can promote this for effective hiring and retention.

Goals, Compensation, Career Path
Clearly outline the goals, compensation and career path for the employee in a way that articulates, “To get here, you need to do this, and here is how we will help you.” Also, list the consequences of what happens if an employee fails to respond to or take on the developmental work. In some cases it’s OK to stay where you are, but a leader of the firm gives an honest conversation of what your future might be.

Employees should give feedback and ideas to the firm leaders, and the firm should encourage that communication. Create an environment where asking for help and saying you don’t know is permitted. It’s not enough to just say you have this environment; it must actually be perceived by the team members as existing.

Some of the most difficult areas of development include working on taking initiative and being a “self-starter,” critical thinking skills and improving accountability to yourself or your team. While these areas could be developed in people, you need to carefully evaluate how much effort, resources and time could be applied to the situation. It is a harsh assessment, but if you don’t have enough resources, time and effort, or you hire or retain people who require more than you can give, you do a disservice to yourself and the people who won’t be developed properly.

In the next blog, I’ll cover ideas for what to do if you can’t fully develop team members, and future blogs will cover how to set up your resources, effort and time for development.

This is for informative purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Consult experts and be aware of federal, local and state regulations and exceptions.

Mary DunlapMary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting

Pottstown, Pa

1 Comment

Embrace Technology for Your Marketing

I recently returned from the T3 Conference, and through my conversations with attendees, I am reminded how advisers are still lagging in adopting technology when it comes to marketing. Whether we want to learn about technology solutions or not, as advisers we need to embrace technology if we desire to fine tune our processes, increase productivity, improve the prospect and client experience, and frankly just make life easier.

When it comes to technology and marketing, I most commonly hear questions about how to maintain and communicate with clients using the tools available. While the selection to help is abundant, you should have a baseline understanding of two basic solutions that support marketing.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management
“What CRM do you use?” is an often-asked question at industry events, as vendors swirl around advisers to attract them to their platforms. Yet, how many advisers actually use the CRM’s full functionality? Forget “full.” How many advisers use it for more than an elaborate rolodex or contact list?

These platforms offer you the ability to be smart in your communications with prospects and clients. You can trigger actions, keep up-to date profiles, track client goals, encourage client interaction and much more! If you aren’t’ sure how to use your CRM, call your rep and ask, “What else can I do with my system? What should I do first? How do I do that?”

Email Management/Marketing Tool
How do you send mass communications to your prospects or your clients? Are you still using Outlook and doing a bcc? An email management tool like MailChimp, AWeber, or Constant Contact allows you to personalize and send to many people all at one time.  Plus, these low-cost providers make it extremely simple to present your information in a branded, more attractive format that is compatible for mobile devices. If you want to get fancy, you can set up an auto-responder when people join the list and have emails go out on your behalf to engage the person. Of course, the need for this solution assumes that you are communicating regularly with valuable information to your prospect and client list.

One consideration when it comes to which email management tool to use is the CRM you have. Does it provide this functionality for you, or can your CRM integrate (that is, talk and share data) with the tool you want to use?

Any solid marketing plan relies on your ability to keep track of the people who have interest in your service, communicate with them individually or en masse, and know when the right time is to reach out. You can do this any way you choose; let technology make it simpler.

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco

Leave a comment

Good Communication = Great Networking

Here’s a question sent to me by a financial adviser from one of the wire houses.

Hi Michael,
Can I bounce this off of you? I have been using LinkedIn to get back in touch with some friends and contacts. I have received some good responses. Really, I am following your idea that I just want to network, not sell. Please let me know if I should tweak my approach. Also, how do I answer a person who sent the response below and let them know that I am not trying to sell them but rather network? Thanks.

Here is the email I sent through LinkedIn:

Hi Bob,
Hope you are well. Wanted to say hello and see what you are up to these days. I am doing a ton of networking and finding that I am able to sometimes help friends of mine. Also, a lot of my friends have been connecting me with people that I can help as well. Would you be open to exploring that kind of an exchange?

Here is the response I got:

Nice to hear from you—the first thing that comes to my mind is your daughter—she must be in elementary school by now. I’ve been around the horn with investments and have worked with several firms. I like where I’m at, the philosophy, resources and approach. Best of luck to you.

OK, a few takeaways!

First and foremost, “Best of luck to you” suggests, “No, I’m not interested, but thanks anyway.” It’s an icy way to end a conversation with someone that probably doesn’t want to be bothered with such nonsense again. Why? Because Bob doesn’t see the value of the dialogue and feels defensive as the email appears to be one sided. Hey, can you blame him? But I do think the relationship can be resuscitated with Bob.

Is a Phone Call a Better Approach?
LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever social media platform you use will never replace the personal touch. If you’re looking to connect or reconnect with a name from the past, a phone call (I think there’s an app for that!) might be a better approach.

LinkedIn is a great platform to do research and “connect” with those you don’t know or don’t know well. Please don’t misunderstand—I think LinkedIn is awesome but probably not here, not now, and not with this.

Networking is about making the connection and ultimately exploring how you can help one another. As a financial adviser, broker, planner, or whatever, your perception of helping someone should not be the value of your product or service—unless they are a true prospect (someone who has told you they are open to becoming a client). Your “helping approach” should be genuine and aimed at helping those you meet and already know (natural market) to grow their business or support them in some other way. How do you know how you can help someone? Just ask.

Communication Is Everything
Your attitude drives your language. Language drives relationships, and relationships drive business. So if you’re truly looking to be a more effective networker, make sure your language is as clear as day; crystal clear. Although the email above suggested the intention to collaborate and help, the language wasn’t clear and therefore misunderstood by the recipient who thought he was simply going to be pitched.

Finally, if there is an elephant in the room, introduce it! As a financial adviser, those you speak with are already on the defensive (as in they think you’re just looking to sell them something), so set their minds at ease by focusing on the purpose of your call or email (to brainstorm, exchange ideas, and explore how you might help one another) and on the relationship. If there is a true connection and you develop the relationship properly, a referral or introduction to true prospects will be there. And if not now, then later.

Remember, networking is about farming not hunting. It’s about planting seeds and developing a harvest in the form of solid relationships and referral sources.

How many networking conversations do you establish on a daily basis? And how many relationships do you need to resuscitate?

Building Blocks Consulting LLC
Jackson, N.J.

Leave a comment

Tips for Stopping Negative Self-Talk from Sabotaging Your Business Goals

Many advisers say their goal is to grow their business—more specifically, to enhance their production. But when we start to explore the obvious approaches to accomplishing that goal, it becomes evident that there’s a lot of negative self-talk going on in advisers’ heads that is getting in the way of their success.

It’s OK to have negative thoughts once in a while, but if you’re letting that negativity or lack of focus sabotage your business goals, you need to do something about it. Your mindset is critical to growing your top line. So, let’s take a look at some of the common thoughts that can get in an adviser’s way—and what you can do to get yourself back on track.

Feel Like You’re Too Busy? You Do Have Time
It’s our MO to say we’re too busy to do the activities necessary to grow our business. But is it true? Are we really too busy, or do we choose to keep ourselves busy with stuff that’s necessary but not so important that it should take time away from our production goals?

For example, some advisers choose to spend time doing administrative paperwork. Why not hire staff so you can delegate the work to them? Other advisers feel the need to stay glued to the monitors so they know exactly what is going on in the market at all times. The market is out of your control, so why not work on something you can affect? Then there’s the adviser who decides to spend year after year servicing clients who just aren’t profitable. Maybe it’s time to prune your book or hand off those clients to another adviser who will see them as “A” clients.

Not Asking for Referrals? Start Today
Your mindset is particularly relevant when it comes to asking existing clients for an introduction to their friends or family. Some advisers have the perception that asking for referrals is tantamount to a lack of professionalism, when it’s really a sign that they need to develop the skill set—along with the courage—to have this conversation. And while it may be true that some advisers get all the referrals they can handle without even asking, I’d wager that for every adviser for whom this is true, there are at least 10 who want more prospects but are simply nervous to ask their clients for help. There’s no harm in asking the question.

Think You Need to Work More Hours? Your Ability to Focus Is More Important
Many advisers assume that growing production means having to work more hours. That may be true for some, but if you study the habits and behaviors of the highest-producing advisers, you find that they generally have an uncanny ability to focus, focus, focus! They make every moment count to ensure the highest ROI per unit of time—and that includes delegating tasks to staff and asking for introductions to prospective clients.

Indeed, your mindset has everything to do with success.

Fess up. What gets in the way of growing your business? Are they legitimate reasons or defeating self-talk? Remember: whether you tell yourself you can or you can’t—you’re right!

Joni YoungwirthJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 99 other followers