We all have bad habits. Some are just minor irritants; others are major distractions that can have a significant impact on our life and business. Working with financial advisors across the country, I have found that the following four bad habits contribute to static growth, conflicts among business partners, countless hours of wasted time and financial trouble. Tackling these damaging routines will have an immediate impact on your business.

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1. Accepting anyone as a client.

Choice is something everyone would like for his or her business. However, during slow times or when trying to build a business, many advisors feel that they must accept everyone as a client because they don’t know when their next opportunity will present itself. Some advisors see the ability to decline a new client as a luxury, when really, it’s a necessity. 

Not everyone that walks through your office door is a potential client. Consider your first meeting like an interview.  Think back to the last time that you interviewed for a job. During the interview, you were asked a series of questions about your education, experience and skills; however, you also asked questions to determine if this was a company in which you would feel comfortable working. Why? Because some relationships just don’t work. Personalities are different. Not every prospect will be a good fit, and that’s OK. Bad client/advisor relationships can be a drain, both mentally and financially. Clients that are not a good fit for your practice will likely require added time and resources in order to try and make the relationship work.  

Image credit: 123rf Stock Photos   

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2. Relying too heavily on email for client communications.

First of all, if you are relying to heavily on one form of communication for your business, you are missing the boat. I recently read an article titled “Are Clients Deleting Your E-mails?” that covered some common pitfalls of client communications. The key for writing effective emails is to answer the question, What’s in it for me? (WIIFM for short).  Keeping this question top of mind will make your emails more reader-friendly, and will increase the likelihood that they will be read.   

However, don’t limit yourself to one form of communication. Regardless of how frequently you meet in-person with your clients, you should consider a comprehensive communication strategy that includes sending birthday cards and newsletters (mailed to their home or emailed), as well as scheduled phone calls throughout the year just to check in with clients and see how they are doing.  In addition, a blog (should your broker-dealer approve) may be a valuable communication tool that serves as an educational resource for your clients and their friends.  A blog also serves as a marketing and branding tool that builds awareness about you and your expertise in the community. 

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3. Always chasing after the next “fix” for your business.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I feel it is one that bears repeating. It is one thing to be innovative and try new things; it’s quite another to always chase the next big thing without researching and analyzing how that strategy, software, or tool may help your business.  I call this the “Keeping Up with the Joneses” Syndrome.  Some advisors are relentless at following what other top advisors are doing, using, and offering without thinking through how it will impact their business. This behavior will lead you down a road full of distractions, keeping you from what you do best. You will waste valued time and resources in the process.

If you have a collection of dusty software applications that you failed to learn how to use, stop what you are doing and think about what you are trying to accomplish. Then, choose your software or business solutions wisely and allocate the necessary time and resources to make these solutions work. The same rules apply for marketing strategies. Before jumping into your next marketing activity, ask for historical data (a track record of success) or, if it is a new concept, conduct a test before throwing all your money and resources at it.   

Image credit: 123rf Stock Photos

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4. Failing to track your business.

The key to being a successful advisor or businessperson is tracking your business. Tracking provides the necessary data to make educated decisions about what works and doesn’t work for your business. From what I’ve seen, advisors that track their business and base decisions off of their findings are more profitable than their counterparts. Profitability comes from focusing on consistent revenue streams and actively budgeting to reduce costly expenses and time wasting activities. You don’t necessarily need an extensive software package that tracks all your information; sometimes a simple spreadsheet in Excel will do just fine. 

Before you can eliminate bad habits, you must first identify them.  Next, you must assess the extent to which they have impacted your personal or professional life. Last but not least, devise a plan to overcome the bad habits and create good habits. Sometimes, it’s the little things that you do that have the biggest impact on your life. What are some other bad habits that you have identified that you would like to shed? Share them with me in the comments section below.

Image credit: 123rf Stock Photos

 

For more from Todd Greider, see:

4 reasons you fail to attract and keep female clients

The money taboo

4 ways to get started with social media