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11 big-picture secrets to success

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Recently, I had a conversation with one of my long-term coaching clients who was preparing to give a presentation to an industry group on how she had become so successful in her 30 years in the business. It went something like this.

1. Take care of your health.

What good can you be for your family, your clients, and your friends if you are not in good health? Healthy living happens by design, not genetics. Your DNA will predispose you toward good or ill health, but it is the sum of the choices that you make that will determine your outcome. This is supported by scientific research.

There is an 80% correlation between being a deca millionaire and being in a health and fitness program, according to Dr. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door. This is why one of my coaching commandments is to put your self first. Not your children, not your spouse, but you. Another commandment is “my lifestyle is an asset, not a liability.”

A true marker for success in the financial services industry is participating in a consistent fitness program. You need to have the energy — not to mention the appearance — to generate confidence in your clients. When they look at you they need to see someone who has it together and is on track. Taking care of your health is good for you and for your business.

2. Get a coach.

Yes the cliché does apply to financial services. Great athletes can only be great athletes by having a coach who challenges them to be their best. The same is true in business.

The word coach is so abused that my office has stopped using it. Any time you have ease of entry into an unregulated business, you get the good and the bad, and just about anyone can call himself a coach these days. Here’s what to look for: Credibility. Someone who has related academic credentials in addition to training as a coach. Someone who has business acumen and who has a track record of success within financial services.

The coach has a role, and it’s not to tell you how to do your business. For that you’ll need an industry mentor. There are lots of trainers who can help you there. Your broker dealer will have practice management experts who can help you segment your book, teach you how to prospect, and assist you in finding markets for guaranteed living benefit annuities, term-life conversions or products with long-term care or disability riders.

What a coach should do is provide a new perspective, challenge you and act as a source of accountability. As a result of consistent conversation with your coach, you should see things with a broader perspective. You should feel challenged to strive and achieve beyond what you think you can do. And you should rest assured that you have a strong source of accountability where there will be enforced consequences for non-performance. These are all rare and valuable things.

3. Set goals, measure and reevaluate.

The financial services business is a journey.  You must be clear on your purpose, your vision and your mission. Why are you in this business? What problems do you solve? Who needs you? Why you?

You can write a mission statement that will keep you on track. The mission statement follows this format;

I am_____

Who does_____

So that ____

Once you have clarity on why you are in this business, you need to ask and answer the following questions: What am I building? Why bother? How much is enough? Regardless of your age you need to know what your end game is. This is the same approach you take with your clients because, after all, you are their life coach, not just their financial coach.

Any goal worthwhile can be measured. Decide what you are going to measure and then track it as specifically and as often as you can. You can measure anything from the number of assets under management to the number of A-level households to the number of calls you make each day. Try to do this on a weekly basis.

4. Have a referral-based business.

This doesn’t mean that you stop prospecting. I may mean the end of cold calls however. The top of your industry have referral-based businesses. However, they are not asking their clients for referrals. They are creating value that their clients want to share with others.

5. Create, sustain and lead a strategic alliance.

Strategic alliances are premier sources of income for the experienced wealth advisor. The traditional strategic alliance includes the financial advisor, an estate planning attorney and an accountant. This has quickly become old-school, however. The modern approach is to ask, Who shares my client base? Who else markets to and solves the problems that my target clients have?

One approach is to identify who else sells to the high-net worth senior marketplace. Identify and interview those people. Find the experts in those industries and ask them to join a study group. Then lead the group. Have monthly meetings where you educate each member on a variety of topics. Teach them how to give referrals. Have alliance events where each member markets to their own database as well as to the public.

Be creative in who you select. Think about adding a P&C agent, a lender, a funeral director, nursing home owner, an SEO expert, a videographer, etc. You will have the most sales and marketing knowledge of any one in your group, so it is up to you to lead and sustain this alliance. It will require your constant attention. But it will be worth it.

6. Become an author.

That’s right, write a book. That is, of course, if your compliance restrictions allow it. I don’t recommend this to my wirehouse clients. For everyone else, nothing gives you more credibility then being an author and speaking. Just the fact that you have a book — even if it’s self- published — gives you instant positioning as an expert. You have something to say. You have a platform of beliefs and strategies. Put them on paper and publish a book.

7. Volunteer in the community.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “It is one of the most interesting facts that you can not help someone else without helping yourself.”

An old song from the rock group Jethro Tull has this line, “It’s only the giving that makes you what you are!”

Not only are you doing an honorable thing by serving on the hospital foundation or the board of a charity, you are also solidifying relationships with people of high-net worth. You get by giving!

8. Be committed to constant learning and growth.

Top performers are constantly looking to improve and grow. Not only that, but constant learning is fantastic for your brain. A new discovery called brain plasticity states that you can continue to grow new neurons, rewire your brain and form new habits for a lifetime. So, keep learning. Be passionate and excited about this business until you die.

9. Share with your peers.

This is an open versus a closed philosophy. It is healthier for you to contribute unselfishly to the success of others then it is for you to shut down and keep your best practices to yourself. Share freely, for your own health and state of mind.

One of the best ways to share with your peers is by speaking at industry events. Be selfless. You never know what will come back to you by doing so.

10. Have a legacy product.

Your clients need a way to impart their wisdom, their philosophies, their mistakes, their values, and their wealth to their heirs. The leaders in your field have developed a legacy product that goes beyond an ethical will, giving their clients a structure to communicate value to their heirs.

11. Take care of the succession of your business.

I do not recommend ever retiring. Yes, you will dramatically change your day-to-day activities, but it is so very important that you remain active, engaged, passionate and excited about building something until you die! You will live longer and have a better quality of life if you do.

So, what have you built? Are you positioning yourself to sell your business? Have you groomed a younger advisor to continue on with your clients and continue to grow your business? Have you asked this question? If not, you should.

Be purposeful about making these 11 ideas part of your business. These are the ideas that have the power to take your business from good to better to best.

For more from Bob Davies, see:

Resolve to succeed in 2012


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