January 28, 2013

Advisors' Path to Success: Externalizing the Inner You

It becomes necessary from time to time to take a step back and reflect on yourself and how your business is going. With this in mind, I'd like to share a few thoughts on an advisor’s most important asset, your reputation, and how it sometimes plays out in the minds of clients.

Reputation Is King

Although 2012 was a pretty good year over all, I didn't gain a lot of new planning clients. However, it seems that has changed with the New Year  as I've had two new planning clients already this month. Although preparing comprehensive financial plans does not carry the same profit margin as asset management, I believe it is a crucial part of the relationship and provides a tremendous benefit to clients. Hence, I could never give it up. 

I also believe planning provides an opportunity to differentiate myself from the competition. You see, when it comes down to it, my agenda is simple. It is to be the very best at what I do, not in a competitive sense, but in the sense of being the best version of me. The goal is to be honest and act with integrity at all times toward my fellow man. The result is a good reputation and a stable business future. Our reputation is king and it stems from our actions which spring from our thoughts. Therefore, a good reputation is priceless.

Market Share and the Mindset

Every human being has a different skill set, level of intelligence, base of knowledge, motivation, etc. Moreover, all advisors will strive to improve themselves to some degree and each will plateau at a different level. I've heard this better explained by using a mountain climbing analogy.

Some people will make it to the top, some will make it three-quarters up the mountain, and some settle at a lower level. It's not that one is right and one is wrong. It's just the way it is. This is part of the reason why advisors have the market share they have. It's also a fact that clients have different needs (some are more complex than others) and expectations (partly based on past experiences). As long as the client has an advisor who meets their needs and expectations, everyone wins. However, if this client were to meet another advisor who offers something they've never seen, some analysis or service that's beneficial, but foreign to them, they may be motivated to change.

Hence, my philosophy has always been to try and think out of the box, continue to improve and set my sights on the mountain top. Because if you're not continuing to improve, you're losing ground. 

The Value of You

It's important to be able to summarize your core beliefs in a sentence or two. I don't believe, however, that it should be a well-rehearsed, elevator-type commercial. Rather, it should be a reflection of what already lies beneath, an outflow of the inner you.

For instance, in my heart of hearts, I truly want to do the right thing for clients. I want them to see me as someone they can trust. That's the goal of every advisor, but if you have to fabricate it out of thin air, if you have to make something up, it probably won't last. It's all about character.

It's as I've said before, you've got to be the right type of person. I want each client to walk away thinking how glad they are to have found me. That's it. I want them to sit up and take notice.........oh..........and tell their friends about me. 

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

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