Ellen Uzelac’s cover story (“The New Culture of Advisory Success”) is replete with examples of cultural practices that some advisors may find appealing, and others off-putting.
That’s the thing about culture—it is inherently particularistic. Good, bad or indifferent, each of these practices has its fans and detractors.
That said, serious advisors would do well to adopt good practices, or best practices as they’re called in the trade, because they promote good client outcomes. (And need we add—good client outcomes lead to good advisor outcomes.)
An example of such an advisor practice that is probably more advised than practiced is active listening.
Cheryl Holland of Abacus Planning Group of Columbia, South Carolina, demonstrates her seriousness about adoption of the practice by carving out five minutes for active listening role-playing at team meetings; crucially, the item is first on her firm’s “debrief” checklist after actual client meetings.
That the silence of listening is not mere passivity is attested to by Holland’s remarks in the article:
“Just count to nine. It’s amazing what comes. Usually it’s a worry: ‘I haven’t told you but our youngest child was diagnosed with MS’ or, after talking about their portfolio, ‘I really didn’t understand what you just said to me.’ That’s great feedback. The richness of the relationship has gotten so much better, giving them the space to process,” she says.
The obvious implication is that an improved financial plan might not have occurred and an enhanced professional relationship might not have ensued but for those nine seconds of silence.