An afternoon panel of top women advisors was moderated by Cambridge Investment Research president Amy Webber (left) and touched upon the secrets to success, juggling the life/work balance and smashing through possible glass ceilings that might arise. Interestingly, two of the three panelists were former teachers whose area of focus was special education.
Held Thursday afternoon at the firm’s Women Advisors Forum and tilted “Secrets of the Rainmaker—Proven Ideas to Attract Clients,” the panel included Lynn Hinds of Lighthouse Financial, Barbara Hennings of Hennings Financial and Nadia Cavner of Nadia Cavner Group.
Webber, a member of the 2012 IA 25, began by asking the panel about the culture and support each advisor fosters in her firm and why it’s important to their success.
“Client complaints have nothing to do with returns,” Cavner said. “They complain when they feel they’re ignored. We’re honest with them, care for them deeply, create a peaceful environment and always put them first,” she added as the other panelists nodded.
Cavner said she never asks for a prospect’s business. “I just assume it’s mine, and 99% of the time I’m right.”
However, if she senses the client will be “difficult,” she has no problem with raising the issue of a possibility of a personality conflict, and suggests they go elsewhere.
“We feel we are called to give back,” Hinds added. “We have a program called ‘First Fruits’ in which we take 10% of our profits and put it back into nonprofits. We also close the office twice each year to volunteer in the community. We like to say our processes and procedures are ‘cold, hard steel,' which they should be. But that means our personal relationships are soft and warm.”
Webber then asked each panelist to recall a decision each made that propelled their careers forward.
“Don’t be concerned about what you’re competition is doing,” Hinds advised. “Find what it is that you are best at and then create ‘delightful advocates.’ I always thought I was financial planner, but I am not and that actually bores me. I am committed to my clients and managing the relationship.”
Hinds also told attendees to “outsource, outsource, outsource,” and she feels there is a glass ceiling for women advisors “only if they themselves create it.”
“I wish I was 40 years old again because of all the opportunity in this business," Hennings added.
In an emotional moment, Webber inquired about the importance of choosing the type of client with which they wanted to work early in their careers.
Choking back tears, Cavner related the story of her young daughter lamenting Cavner’s frequent absences due to a heavy workload.
“I realized I was gone a lot from my daughter and I needed to get my priorities straight,” she said. “I’m not a superwoman, and I started to get help. But for those of you just starting out who think you’re too small to make a difference, think about it like trying to sleep with a mosquito. In that situation, the mosquito will make a big difference.”
In response to a question from Webber, Cavner then detailed her greatest success story in the business.
“I was very busy one day as a financial advisor in a bank. A woman came in and asked for a signature guarantee. My mother always told me to be gracious, humble and even if I was busy I was to act like I was not. She was a client of the bank and I gave her the guarantee.”
A few days later she received a call requesting that she fly to meet with the woman and her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, in Kansas.
“The woman said it would be worth my while. When I arrived, her husband handed me a statement for $3 million. I was flabbergasted. He then said, ‘I like you’ and handed me another statement for $2 million. That was 18 years ago and even though they’re now divorced, they’re still with me today. You never know, even on your busiest day, where your success will come from, so don’t doubt yourself.”
See our additional reporting on the Cambridge Women Advisors Forum, including: