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3 Steps to Find Your Business Bearings and Go Beyond

It is not uncommon for most financial planners to not know where their business is heading at some point in their career. You be one of those planners just going through the motions of the day-by-day without any clarity about whether what you’re doing is helping your business reach its next level. However, you don’t want to become complacent and run your business to just get by.

The following is a step-by-step process to help you find your business bearings and go beyond where you are to where you want to be.

Step 1: Determine Where You are Right Now. Take an honest look at where you are in your business; are you happy with the assets you have under management, the types of clients you engage with and/or the products and services you provide? Does your business leave you fulfilled? If not, do what my client did to get his business bearings.

John P., a 15-year veteran planner client, recently realized that his real challenge wasn’t the lack of gross production he was having with his business but the lack of passion he had for his business. Somewhere along the way he had lost his purpose and it was important to redefine his purpose and reignite his passion.

Step 2: Create Your Business Vision. Create a vision of what your “ideal” business would look like. Write it down. Map it out. When you know what you want your business to become, you have a much higher probability of attaining it.

After further discussion, John shared that what motivated him to get into the business in the first place was the joy he experienced the day he helped his father understand how to choose the right asset allocation for his 401(k). Unfortunately, his father had been contributing to his company plan for ten years and never realized that he was in the most conservative mutual fund option possible—a money market fund—and as a result, he never saw any substantial growth in his portfolio.

John’s purpose was to help those who needed and wanted his help not by just selling them products but by educating them about what they should buy and why it would help them have a comfortable retirement. It was the fulfillment he got from changing his clients’ lives that fueled his passion to build his business. This became the new center of his business vision, to help as many people as he could.

Step 3: Create Your Course. Determine the best possible route to ensure that your vision becomes a reality. In other words, you can have the plan but you need actionable tasks and accountability to stick with it.

Over the years John had lost sight of his purpose and focused on trading stocks for a chosen few in order to continue living the lifestyle he’d grown accustomed to. Once he understood that incorporating financial planning and bringing in those who specialized in risk management and estate planning would help his clients gain a bigger impact towards their retirement goals, we mapped out a plan to increase his financial planning knowledge and how best to let his clients know that he was expanding the scope of his services.

Why Going Beyond is Important

He ended up telling his father’s story to his clients and many of them were very open to his new level of service. As a result, he was able to indeed effect larger and more significant outcomes than he had ever thought possible because he found financial planning, insurance and estate planning solutions to challenges he (and his clients) didn’t know they even had.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session me by emailing emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

 

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 

 

 

 


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Lessons from Benjamin Graham

When I was growing up in 1997 in a South Carolina town (population 2,070ish, plus two stop lights), every year around this time my class would be asked to write essays on people we admire—people who have influenced us and helped shape our world.

The answers were generally our mothers or fathers, with an occasional Michael Jordon, Mia Hamm, Britney Spears or, for those who sat in the back of the class, Kurt Cobain, thrown in the mix (it was the 90s, after all).

It might be force of habit, but once the weather starts cooling off, I begin to think about people who have had an impact on my world. This year, beyond friends and family, I began to think about someone who has had a major impact on my—and probably everybody else’s—life as a financial professional.

Benjamin Graham. The one who is called the “Father of Value Investing” or, by me (being the financial geek that I was and continue to be) “the Michael Jordan of Investment.”

Graham, who was born in 1884 and died in 1976, documented his ideas and methods on investing in his books Security Analysis (published in 1934) and The Intelligent Investor (published in 1949), which has sometimes been called the “Bible of Value Investing” and is still considered to be one of the seminal texts on investing for the modern era.

Warren Buffett himself said that The Intelligent Investor changed his life. “If I hadn’t read that book in 1949, I’d have had a different future,” Buffett said in a Business Insider article. High praise, indeed.

His philosophy is so second-nature these days, it’s hard to believe it was once revolutionary. His concept was value investing, the principle that any investment should ultimately be worth more than what the investor paid for it.

The lessons I’ve learned from Graham are lessons I both practice and preach.

Look for investments thought to be undervalued. Simply put, buy $100 worth of assets for $50.

Understand the “margin of safety,”—the difference between the stock’s current market price and its intrinsic value.

Understand the health of the business you’re investing in—its earnings, dividends and assets.

Understand market volatility and profit from it. It’s not a question of whether the stock will fluctuate. It will. The trick is how you respond. Invest in the business, not just its current value. When you value invest, you will stop worrying about the market.

Understand what kind of investor you are: enterprising or defensive. Will you commit to the research, monitoring and attention to your portfolio or is your chief emphasis on the avoidance of serious mistakes or losses?

Over the years, market developments have borne out the wisdom of Graham’s basic principles. His core tenets of value investing remain relevant today. Here are some of my favorites. The pages noted refer to The Intelligent Investor, Fourth Edition.

  • “Experience teaches that the time to buy stocks is when their price is unduly depressed by temporary adversity. In other words, they should be bought on a bargain basis or not at all.” (p. 98)
  • “Have the courage of your knowledge and experience. If you have formed a conclusion from the facts and if you know your judgment is sound, act on it—even though others may hesitate or differ.” (p. 524)
  • “This may be set down as a fundamental law of the stock market – that the enterprising investor concentrate on the larger companies that are going through a period of unpopularity.” (p. 63)
  • “Any approach to moneymaking in the stock market which can be easily described and followed by a lot of people is by its terms too simple and too easy to last.” (p. 195)
  • “Much bad advice is given free.” (p. 270)
  • “To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks.” (p. 524)
Harper Tucker
Harper Tucker is chair of the Financial and Legal Innovation Practice and vice-president of Authority Marketing for ForbesBooks and Advantage Media Group.

 


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5 Steps to Run Your Business with Positive Intention

Years ago, when I was a rookie, I was running out to an appointment with a client I was hoping to close, when a colleague wished me good luck. My immediate response was, “Thanks, but he’ll probably have to think about it.” My peer replied, “You’re right—if you go into the meeting with that intention.”

On the ride to the appointment I thought about what my co-worker had said and realized that I needed to run my business by going into each phone call and every appointment with a vision of a successful outcome rather than with my existing, less enthusiastic mindset. I quickly changed my focus—which had been negative—and instead worked on how to handle any possible objections that might arise during the appointment.

The result was one of the smoothest presentations (and closes) I’d ever experienced. Afterward, I made the connection: the reason my meeting went so well wasn’t because my change in focus was attracting success but because I went into the appointment expecting success.

The following are the steps I’ve used in many situations, in business and life, to increase my probability of success. Apply these steps and watch how your business and life can transform for the better.

Step 1: Believe in the outcome you want. When I look back at the aforementioned story, I realize now (20 years later) that although I knew I wanted to close that prospect, I didn’t believe that I would. Knowing what outcome you want and believing in your ability to achieve that outcome can be two entirely different thought processes. That’s why it’s so important to address any doubts you have by asking yourself, “What is the evidence that this is true?” And, in my case the follow-up question was simply, “Have I ever closed a prospect before? If I’ve done it once I can do it a thousand times more.” By questioning a negative belief system you are in fact decreasing its validity and increasing your own belief in yourself.

 Step 2: Know where you are now. On the ride to that particular appointment I had a revelation that I needed to run my business with intention. Up to that point I’d actually run my business by winging it. Believe me, I’ve coached hundreds of financial advisers and insurance agents since 2004 and one thing I learned early on is that winging it doesn’t work. That is why you need to get crystal clear on where you are now and where you desire to be. In other words, what have you been doing that has been preventing you from reaching your full potential?

For me, it was taking the time to prepare recommendations while neglecting to prepare for the presentation and any objections.

Step 3: Decide what to do and do it. That appointment was a turning point in my career because I realized that people don’t want to be corrected, they want to be connected. In other words, people don’t like to be told they have been doing something wrong with their investment strategy but they do what to know that you care about them and that you have their best interest at heart. In order to show them that, you need to ask questions to help prospects see that they have a challenge (if they do) and to realize that you have the solution.

So, I decided that I would focus on having a process for my presentations, ask better questions and lead them down a path to understand what value I could offer them.

Step 4: Prepare for possible pushbacks. In business, as well as life, we’re all faced with the possibility of pushbacks, those unforeseen obstacles that prevent us from reaching our desired results. In the case of presenting the prospect with recommendations, it’s highly likely that they will have objections. That’s why I decided to study a process (and actually develop a system) to handle any type of objection. When you prepare for possible pushback, you increase your likelihood of success because you are ready for the inevitable obstacles.

Step 5: Evaluate the process. A simple barometer for understanding how well your process is working is to observe the results you’re seeing (or not seeing). If you’re obtaining your desired results, than keep doing what you are doing, but if not it’s time to go back to the beginning and start over at step one.

Why Positive Intentions Work

The more often you go into any situation with an intentional, positive attitude and a plan, the more likely that it will become a habit. If you begin each interaction knowing what you want to happen, believe in the outcome and prepare your dialogue for inevitable objections and you will no doubt increase your probability for success. The reason why running your business with positive intentions works is because it’s the antithesis of “winging it” or leaving your business up to chance. Instead, expect success by preparing to succeed.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.


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Taking the Emergency Brake Off

Fear has an ugly way of stopping many advisers in their tracks. Fear of failure, fear of success (yes, even that) and fear of the unknown can leave you driving with the emergency brake on, slowing your pace and forcing you to work harder.

For advisers and agents who let fear affect how they manage their tasks, they shouldn’t focus so much on eliminating fear altogether but more on illuminating fear. Advisers and agents should try to understand how some of their beliefs or fears hold them and their advisory business from reaching a greater level. If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, you are not the first to experience this sometimes paralyzing crossroad. However, this post can teach you how to take that emergency brake off and put motivation and momentum back into your daily activities.

5 Steps to Overcoming Fear

The following are steps are for overcoming fear—both in your personal and professional lives. Apply each step when you are faced with a situation where you experience fear and/or anxiety and watch how quickly you can conquer it.

Step 1: Gain Emotional Awareness. Rick T. is a veteran financial adviser client of mine with 20 years of experience. He called late on a Friday afternoon concerned about a situation in which he’d emailed one client another client’s information by accident. The two clients have the same first name, so it was a simple mistake of typing the first name in the “to” box of his outgoing email. I asked him how he felt about what happened in order to give him a chance to identify and articulate his emotional awareness.

Step 2: Realize and Release. He was fearful and anxious because his compliance department was the one who notified him of the error. Unfortunately, it had occurred several other times this year so he was even more concerned about what this could mean for him. His mind was racing towards the worst-case scenario.

Putting into words how you feel and why is a great beginning. You need to let yourself recognize the fear and/or anxiety so you can work through it. It will release itself over time and you will feel better, but it’s important to sensibly talk through the situation with someone you trust until you find a stronger sense of calm.

Step 3: Get the Facts. It didn’t take Rick long to start thinking and getting worked up again about the situation. It’s common to keep experiencing the original emotion as most people’s mind tends to wander, ruminate and head back toward doubt, so I helped him refocus his thoughts by explaining the facts.

I’ve been in the financial services industry for 24 years—both as a financial adviser and a coach—and I’ve never, ever heard of anyone getting fired for sending out emails to the wrong client.

Step 4: Form a Plan and Take Action. Rick quickly asked me what he should do and we formed a plan and mapped out what he should say to his compliance department. When we hung up, he acted and made the call. By preparing for that call, we in fact refocused his energy toward something that he could control—which was trying to rectify the situation.

Step 5: Repeat the Process. It didn’t take long before Rick called me back, informing me that his compliance department was helpful and reminded him to slow down and double check when sending out any correspondence. I recommended to him that he repeat the process we used with this specific event for any situation that arose in the future that served up fear and anxiety for him.

Why Taking the Emergency Brake off Works

When Rick realized that he didn’t have to run from the fear, but instead embrace and face it, he felt empowered with hope (and equipped with a coping mechanism for bringing him to a calmer state). We all become reactive to some extent in these types of situations. That’s why taking the emergency brake off works, it takes you out of focusing on the immediate fear and allows you to focus on the process to hopefully remedy the outcome and move in the right direction.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 


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These Tips Can Help Advisers Attract—and Keep—High Net Worth Clients

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch.com

For many advisers, high net worth individuals or households — those with more than $1 million in investible assets — are a kind of Holy Grail.

The reasons are clear. HWNIs, which represent just 0.7 percent of the world’s adult population but own 45.2 percent of the wealth, are good for business. They’re highly profitable and loyal, according to Rebecca Li-Huang, a wealth adviser at HSBC, who wrote a chapter in the June 2017 book Financial Behavior: Players, Services, Products, and Markets.

Consider: An adviser can earn one-half of 1 percent of assets under management on a $10 million account, say $50,000 a year. By contrast, the very same adviser would earn only $1,000 a year on a $100,000 account. For financial advisers, the attraction should be obvious.

But there’s more to the story, and advisers should get to know the psychology of HNWIs before taking them on as clients. Just like regular folks, Li-Huang wrote, they are prone to behavioral biases and judgment errors, not perfectly rational, utility-maximizing, unemotional homo economicus.

In short, wrote Li-Huang, they are humans. And in the U.S., according to Li-Huang, they often share a particular way of thinking about what they want from their money that financial advisers should consider when trying to serve them.

American HNWIs like to direct their investment according to their personal beliefs and values, and they play a large role in public life through philanthropy and politics, according to Li-Huang. And many want to leave a legacy by giving back to society while generating a financial return on their investments.

“The holistic returns on cultural, environmental, social, and political causes are gaining importance in wealth management,” wrote Li-Huang. “The trend toward helping HNWIs address their personal aspirations and social-impact needs is part of a broader wealth management industry transition toward giving holistic wealth advice.”

Focus on goals while mitigating stress

How can advisers do that? For starters, according to Li-Huang, advisers can focus on goals-based financial planning, holistic wealth management, and services that address investments, lending, tax and estate planning, insurance, philanthropy, and succession planning.

With goals-based planning, wrote Li-Huang, success is measured by how clients are progressing toward their personalized goals rather than against a benchmark index such as the S&P 500 stock index. (Publicly traded securities don’t necessarily contribute that much to a HNWI’s wealth, notes Li-Huang, as just one in eight millionaires say equities were an important factor in their economic success.)

Still, she argues, HNWIs do need to invest in diversified markets and use tax-efficient strategies. And advisers can add value by “mitigating psychological costs, such as reducing anxiety rather than improving investment performance” and by focusing on financial planning and advice on savings and asset allocation.

Li-Huang cited research that suggests that investors don’t necessarily want the best risk-adjusted returns but, rather, the best returns they can achieve for the level of stress they have to experience, or what some call anxiety-adjusted returns.

In the cast of HNWIs, they tend to practice something called “emotional inoculation.” They outsource the part of the investment decision-making that induces stress, according to Li-Huang.

HNWIs are especially looking to their wealth manager for help with philanthropy. They are looking for “support and advice, such as setting goals and defining their personal role in their areas of interest, identifying and structuring investments, and measuring outcomes of their social impact efforts,” she wrote.

Given that advisers need to provide their HNWI clients with tax and philanthropy specialists.

In advisers they trust

When HNWIs consider selecting an adviser, they tend to focus more on honesty and trustworthiness than past investment performance or standard professional credentials, according to Li-Huang.

That’s not to say that professional credentials and competence don’t matter — they do — but, rather, that they are not sufficient in and of themselves, according to Li-Huang.

HNWIs — who tend to have less time and resources for due diligence than typical clients of financial advisers — use something called “trust heuristics” when searching for an adviser with whom to work.

In other words, they’re even more likely to assume that the category leaders are among the best in a highly regulated world even as they hold advisers referred by family members, friends and acquaintances in high regard, according to Li-Huang.

Consequently, perhaps, HNWIs tend to trust their advisers much more than less wealthy retail investor trust their financial advisers.

So, what is trust to a HNWI? According to Li-Huang, HNWis trust advisers who show signs that they’re acting in the client’s best interest, reach out proactively, charge reasonable fees, deliver mistake-free work — and admit when they’re wrong.

In many ways, attracting and retaining HNWIs isn’t much different that getting and keeping what are called “mass affluent” clients, who have with assets of less than $1 million. But the differences are worth noting, because the stakes are higher, and a bit of extra knowledge can pay off.

This story first ran on July 21, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

Related Links from MarketWatch:

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7 Steps to Building a Business Breakthrough

Have you ever been stuck atop a production plateau or seen your business head in a steady decline and wondered what it would take to turn your business around? Most advisers and agents go through peaks, valleys and crossroads at some point in their careers. There are many ways to pivot and change your trajectory if you find yourself in need of a re-route. Here are a few of my suggested steps to help you.

Step 1: Choose to Succeed
It may sound simplistic but success is a choice, either you desire to succeed or you don’t. To take the first step toward positive outcomes you have to want to move in the right direction. So, if you are tired of being where you are you must make a conscious decision to do want it takes to ensure change actually happens or the status quo will continue.

Step 2: Adopt a Great Attitude
It’s been said that, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” Adopting a great attitude starts by understanding that nobody is responsible for your success but you. How you look at your circumstances is a choice that you must make every day. You will always be faced with obstacles but if you view them as an opportunity to grow you can turn them into triumphs. Start each day with an attitude of gratitude for all that you have and watch how quickly other aspects of your business and your life start to fall into place.

Step 3: Create Systems to get Results
No one ever built a great business by winging it. When you are truly honest with yourself you will realize that creating processes and systems for every aspect of your business, time management, prospecting, sales, client servicing and so on is the best way to get results. The secret to creating systems is to duplicate other’s successes by learning and implementing their systems. So ask someone you look up to in your business, what is working for them? Why re-invent the wheel?

Step 4: Take Massive Action
It has also been said that, “The distance between dreams and reality is action.” And, the more action you take the higher the likelihood that you’ll succeed. Let’s face it, you can have a fantastic system but if you don’t actually implement or integrate it then it is merely a wasted resource. Conversely, taking massive action ultimately generates both motivation and momentum.

Step 5: Track Your Progress
Measuring your milestones is a terrific way to enjoy the journey. In order to know if you are on the right path you must consistently track and evaluate your progress. It can be as simple as adding people to your pipeline daily or as complex as recording dials, contacts, new prospects, appointments and accounts. Knowing where you were and where you are now will help keep you moving toward where you want to be.

Step 6: Reward Yourself
As you accomplish your goals, it’s important to reward yourself along the way. Rewards act as a motivator to continue taking daily action because it provides an added incentive to push a little harder towards your end goal. Some successful advisers and agents use a simple reward system like allowing themselves to get a cup of coffee only after having contacted five new prospects. When you use this type of reward system consistently you form great habits to continue building your business.

Step 7: Make Course Corrections
To reach your peak potential, it’s important to make course corrections from time to time. Take for instance having a proven cold calling prospecting system that a successful colleague used to build his or her business. He or she was kind enough to map out their system for you, you took action, recorded milestones and rewarded yourself but success seems to be happening at a slower pace for you than you had expected. Chances are that you may need to make a slight course correction around who your target market is, tweaking what you say or how you are handling objections to duplicate their success.

Why Building a Business Breakthrough System Works
Business breakthroughs don’t happen overnight. It takes time to implement each step until you find the pace and formula that works for you. Now that you understand a bit more about what is involved to get going, all you need to do next is to take that first step towards your destination.

Are you using some or all these steps to have your own business breakthrough? To learn more, schedule a 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

 

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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5 Steps to ‘Connecting the Room’

One of life’s simple pleasures for me is something that others might dread: public speaking. For more than 20 years I’ve had the honor and privilege to speak in front of a wide range of audiences—investors, financial advisers, insurance agents and wholesalers.

A rookie financial adviser client of mine explained that he had held his first seminar and it had resulted in setting several appointments with qualified prospects. However, he was disappointed overall because he said that the audience barely said a word during his entire presentation. Even when he would ask them a question or attempt to interact with them, the room was silent.

If this has ever happened to you, please know that it happens to most speakers at some point in their careers. To combat that challenge, I’ve developed a solution that I refer to as “connecting the room.” If you apply this technique, I’m pretty sure you will never just hear crickets during your presentation again.

The following is a step-by-step process for connecting the room.

Step 1: Ask Strategic Questions

It’s no secret that the audience tends to be more engaged at listening when you ask them questions. That’s why it’s important to map out your questions prior to your presentation so that you have a strategy ahead of time.

Typically, I tend to start off a new subject with a question. An example of this was years ago when I prepared one set of questions for each section of my presentation. Instead of reading the Power Point slide titled “Inflation Eats up Your Purchasing Power,” I simply asked a strategic question to the group of retirees, which was, “How many people here paid more for their last car then they did their first house?”

Step 2: Get the Audience to Take Action

Another great way to help the audience connect with one another is to collectively ask them to take action by raising their hand. After I asked the earlier question, I paused and said, “Let’s see a show of hands of who can relate to that. Please raise your hand if you can.”

Immediately, several hands went up.

Step 3: Make a Connection

Next, pick out one person who seems to be paying attention or actively listening so that you can ask them to tell their story to the crowd. Ask, “What is your name?” then simply turn the dialogue over to them by saying something like, “Joe, when did you buy your first house? What type of home was it (ex: rambler, townhouse, split-level, etc.)? Was it here in town or somewhere else?” Let this individual share the limelight for a moment then continue asking a few more questions. Examples might be, “What was the biggest purchase item aside from your home that you bought?” and “Do you think you the prices for items like that will continue to rise?” Your final question should be a closed-ended question which elicits a “yes” or a “no” so you can emphasize your point. Finish the interaction by thanking the person, “Joe, thanks for sharing! Who here can relate to Joe’s story? Let’s see a show of hands.”

Step 4: Connect the Room

Usually a group tends to listen more intently when a speaker is dynamic and uses dialogue, versus a speaker who is static and utilizes a monologue. If you sprinkle in interactions throughout your presentation, your audience will be waiting for them. Use as many as you can—as time permits—to solidify your messaging and to strengthen your connection with those in the room.

Step 5: Make Your Point

Before moving on from one topic to another be sure to ask a summarizing question. Here is an example, “Does anyone know why things are more expensive today than they were when you bought your first house?” Let someone offer an answer and then explain your point of view. You could say something like, “The reason things are more expensive is because inflation eats up your purchasing power!”

Transitioning from one topic to another is often the best time to engage with the audience and have the group collectively relate to each other. Be sure your questions are catered to the demographic to which you are speaking and that the questions support your point of view.

Why Connecting the Room Works

When you use this technique, watch what happens to the people in the room, they speak more freely and are more apt to want to speak with you afterwards and hopefully they are on their way to becoming one of your clients. If they feel comfortable then they feel connected!

To schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me at, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Advisor Solutions.

Dan Finley

 

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.