Too often, only the crisis of a heart attack motivates someone to actually quit smoking, eat better and exercise regularly. Similarly, the kind of market we’re currently in is excellent at exposing flaws in our assumptions, business models and client rosters. But using the stress from today’s market as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint problems in our business is not enough. Instead, we must act now, when times are tough, to reap the many benefits of a better business during both down and up markets.
Unfortunately, as 30 years in this business have shown me, financial advisors are rarely adept at change in either their personal or business lives. In our CEG Worldwide coaching programs, we regularly find that in addition to outsourcing and delegating other activities at which they are not expert, advisors also need to outsource and delegate the process of changing their businesses. This requires turning to mentors, coaches or consultants to effectively facilitate and leverage the change process.
Six Steps to Change
Once you recognize that you need outside help, we recommend undertaking a six-step process:
(1) Perform a candid self-assessment.
(2) Define areas of focus.
(3) Choose between a mentor, coach or consultant.
(4) Decide on a particular individual to work with.
(5) Make an agreement and action plan.
(6) Work the plan.
The first step — performing a candid self-assessment — necessitates sitting down and having a Big Picture conversation with yourself. Start by asking yourself if the business you now have is the business you really want. Imagine a future you — a wildly successful future you who has met all his or her goals — and describe what you see. What do you want your business life and personal life to look like in one year? Five years? Ten or more years? Make sure you envision the entire picture, including your family life, leisure time and overall health.
Then compare where you are now with where you want to be. What do you need to do to get there? What obstacles and major concerns might prevent you from achieving your desired future? A serious self-assessment requires you to be as objective as possible, so it might be helpful to seek input from your spouse and close friends. Completing this kind of frank, in-depth self-assessment clearly indicates that you have the necessary preexisting commitment to change that a mentor, coach or consultant can leverage.
The second step is to define your specific areas of focus for the next six to 12 months. For example, if you desire increased revenue, then you’ll need to expand or change your client base. If you already have more clients than you can properly service, the logical conclusion might be to embrace a wealth management approach and have fewer but wealthier clients.
Three Distinct Choices
With a clear idea of your overall goals and your particular focus, you’re in a position to ask yourself who might help you most: a mentor, a coach or a consultant. By understanding the significant differences between them, you can wisely choose who will be best suited to help you achieve your goals.
A mentor — if you can find one — is probably the best choice. An ideal mentor will already have achieved the kind of success you’re aiming at in our industry, and will help you do the same by sharing specific experiences, strategies and techniques.