From the March 2008 issue of Boomer Market Advisor • Subscribe!

March 1, 2008

Three specific benefits of quality coaching programs

Most boomer advisors will never enter a coaching relationship. Many can't get past the cost and/or the time required; some simply don't have the drive to improve their practices and lead more balanced lives. This column will demonstrate that entering the right coaching relationship is the single most important step to growing your practice and serving your boomer clients better.

My four partners and I are in our twenty-second year together. We have grown our firm into one of the top 50 independent broker-dealers. Our internal coaching experience began in the early 1990s when we retained a consultant and used Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline as a study guide to building a learning organization. Two of our executives are currently in coaching programs. Over half of the attendees at our February 2008 top producer conference have been through coaching programs. As a broker/dealer, we realize that one of the most important foundations of improved practice management is through advisor coaching.

For this column, I interviewed five of our advisors, whose ages range from 37 to 59. Only two came from the same coaching program, and six different programs were represented. Each person entered their program from very different perspectives, but the powerful common benefits each received were Process (some would call it structure), Accountability and Results.

Process -- Each coach has his own process or structure, and the advisor needs to select the coach and process that best fits the advisor's needs and personality. For advisor Joe Davis in Washington, D.C. it was Dan Sullivan's Strategic Coach. Davis was intrigued with Sullivan's idea of free days (days away from the business) that allowed him to spend time strategically planning for his practice. It allowed him to think creatively about his business and resulted in his qualifying for Million Dollar Round Table Top of the Table four times.

Accountability -- A systematic weakness for most entrepreneurs is that they are only accountable to themselves. Coaches provide accountability for financial advisor in relation to tasks and goals. Some programs have quarterly group meetings; others incorporate weekly calls. Some coaching programs do both. At some point, the advisor will leave the coach. What happens to the accountability factor? Advisor Tracy Bush in Rockville, Md. solved the problem by having his staff take the place of the coach, and he is now accountable to them.

More importantly, a coach can get the financial advisor to test his concepts about work and life. In one form or another, we are all prisoners of our own assumptions. For advisor Charles Massimo in Melville, N.Y., coaching broadened his perspective, and he invested in areas he traditionally ignored -- like public relations. Massimo is a regular commentator on Fox News.

Results -- Our reps that chose to participate in coaching programs are now better advisors with rapidly growing business. Advisor Lou Zaccaro in Oradell, N.J. recently switched careers (wholesaling to financial advisory) and re-entered a coaching relationship. He spent $12,000 in coaching over the past year and it increased his gross revenue by over $100,000. Coaching helped Penn.-based advisor Joe Campisi discover his core competency -- helping tax professionals integrate financial services into their practices. In six years, he increased his revenue by 1000 percent and was honored last fall as our top group leader.

Helping clients to identify and attain goals is a core aspect of any advisory practice. A coaching program helps the advisor become both a better financial, and life, coach for his clients. When asked if they thought their coaching experience made them better advisors, all answered unequivocally yes. Davis said it best -- What he sought in coaching is what he delivers to his clients. It taught him to ask the right questions and build trust.

If you have an interest in a coaching program, begin your search by asking fellow professionals you respect about their coaching experiences. View your time and money spent in coaching as a small investment in your practice. The potential rewards are life changing.

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