In my over 20 years of business consulting and executive coaching, I have worked with almost every size and type of firm facing every kind of challenge, from scaling businesses to compete with larger firms to creating a lifestyle practice that allows an advisor to enjoy more free time away from the office; from problems with practice management to employee issues; from establishing and holding firm on fees to how to brand and market for the ideal client.
The one thing all these firms have in common is that they all start with the same incorrect question, “What should we do differently?” These leaders of successful businesses are certain that a change in their methods will make the difference in their business.
This always amazed me because, given all my study and research of success, I know the correct question should be, “How can we think differently?”
Studies have shown, including one famous study from the Carnegie Foundation, that success is really 85% psychology and only 15% technical knowledge and skills. And yet, it is always astounding to me that there is so little conversation going on about mindsets and so much about methods. How you think will always drive what you do, and 95% of your thoughts are unconscious.
I’ve discovered, in my practice and in our coaching program, that methods will only produce a real, sustainable result when there is a shift in mindset. That being said, I’ve noted the 7 mindsets that are imperative to build a practice that allows an advisor to experience true success, financial reward and freedom:
Worth: Knowing your worth, and the worth of the value you add through your work, is what allows you to face business and life with confidence. When we look to external factors for worth and validation, we compromise our standards when challenging circumstances arise, such as a prospect requesting a discount in fees. Advisors will too oftentimes just say yes. It is a reaction driven by lack of confidence in self-worth. When you know your worth, you don’t compromise your value, and you won’t let others do it either.
Clarity & Focus: Being clear in where you want to go is critical to charting a course for getting there. Too often advisors take action in response to daily challenges and circumstances, rather than being driven by a sense of vision and clarity around what they’re striving to achieve. When advisors decide to create massive shifts in their success, it starts with clarity about what they want, particularly if it’s a practice that would be very different than the one they are currently experiencing. I often joke that advisors are easily distracted and love to chase “shiny things” (we do it, too). I also know that focus is an essential ingredient in your success. Staying keenly focused on the strategies that pave the road to success is essential to a swift, smooth ride to that coveted destination.
Value: An important compliment to knowing your own worth is knowing the value of the work you do, and the outcomes you deliver to clients. When you have a strong sense of the value you provide, you approach situations with greater ease and confidence. We would argue that financial planning and investment management are not your value, but rather the mechanisms by which you deliver that value. Advisors with a strong value mindset know that their value is delivering advice, not information. Learning how to articulate your value in sales and marketing situations is a valuable leap-frog to success that advisors too often overlook.
Time: Advisors don’t suffer from a lack of time, they suffer from a lack of knowing how to make the most of it. The pace of your progress will be driven by what you choose not to spend your time on, as much as by what you do choose to spend your time on. When you possess a strong sense of worth, clarity and focus, you become quite clear on the priorities that will deliver results, and focus your time on these revenue-producing activities. Everything else you delegate to people, process, and/or platform solutions. Managing your time isn’t your greatest obstacle, but rather your greatest opportunity.
Leverage: Leverage is using the resources you have to your maximum advantage. Many advisors struggle to extract the level of leverage possible from their people, process, and platforms. There are many reasons for this, but often this symptom is a result of difficulty delegating, control issues, and/or the perceived need to personally individualize solutions for every situation (regardless of the actual beneficial impact). We promise you each of us has struggled with this mindset, learning that letting go and leaning into a leverage mindset yields far greater performance and results than running a “1-man wonder” show. One feels righteous and validating, but the other produces results worth letting go for. The interesting insight here is that once you learn to use leverage to your advantage, you will never want to go back to the old, you-centric way of doing things.
Relationships: Our relationships with people are a key contributor to our success and happiness at work. Advisors work with people, and for people, and too often don’t truly enjoy the people with whom they are working. Compromising on your staff in terms of quality, capability, or fit undermines performance, productivity and profitability. And, let’s be honest, it’s just not fun to work with people that aren’t performing or that aren’t a cultural fit, and it causes a great deal of avoidable stress and angst. Add to this that many advisors have client relationships they don’t enjoy or work with with clients that are difficult, don’t follow their advice or aren’t a personality fit. Work with people they truly enjoy, making work an enjoyable experience.
Money: A positive money mindset is a major contributor to an advisor’s level of financial success. A strong money mindset recognizes that you invest in success, you expect a good return on that investment and that money is an exchange of value between two parties that should be fair and reciprocal. A successful practice is built on a strong financial foundation. This includes profitability at both the client and firm level, as both are key components in a firm’s financial success, and ultimately the income of the advisor. I don’t know many advisors that would tell their clients to stay in an under-performing investment, yet advisors will stay in un-profitable relationships when there is no business case for doing so. You will be far more ready and able to tap into a greater level of financial success when you master your money mindset.