Focus on What You Can Control

It's the first week in my new office and there are still a few outstanding issues to be resolved. Window treatments, reception area chairs, and a few pictures still to be hung. The goal is to create a warm, but professional environment where clients will feel comfortable. I believe we should control the things we can and don't fret about the rest. What can we control? Plenty! The most important area we control is our ethical compass.

Office Environment

We can control the way our office looks. What image does it portray to a client? Is it clean and neat? Is the furniture old and ragged or like new? How about technology? You don't want to look like you're still in the dark ages.

Personal Attire

How are we dressed? When I worked for a large brokerage firm we all wore suits and ties...every day. I've been on my own now for about 22 months and I've worn a tie about four times. While there may be a few clients who prefer this, I'm convinced that the higher an individual's wealth, the less concerned they are about us wearing ties. That's just my opinion folks, for what it's worth. Dressy business casual is fine with me.

Technical Proficiency

We can control the level of our knowledge. Are we coasting or still learning? I hope it's the latter. Gaining education is so very important, but in very large firms, there is often little time for this. The pressure to work with such a large number of clients is high. In my humble opinion, the large publicly traded firms are often a type of financial services "sweat shop." Anyway, hone your skills and continue to learn.

Communication Skills

How adept are you at communicating? You may be the best practitioner around, but if you aren't good at communicating this to a client, you're efforts will be hampered. Granted, after you have built a good client base and are well known to centers of influence, you may not need to be a great communicator. But the majority of us do.

Ethical Compass

Finally, we can certainly all control this most important area. While the RIA has a distinct advantage here, in that we are held to a fiduciary standard of care, any advisor under any business model can be highly ethical. Again, every advisor can do the right thing when it comes to their clients. So in the words of the famous shoe company...Just Do It!

Your feedback is welcomed!

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