Building the million-dollar practice of your dreams doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, when you break down the financial advisory business into its core functions, it can be made much more simple, according to Shawn Sparks, vice president of advisor development for the insurance marketing organization Advisors Excel. Creating success relies on focusing on three crucial areas that are all equally important, he says.
“You have to have marketing, which is the act of bringing people in that need help,” says Sparks. “You then have the sales component, which is really converting those people to clients, or helping them in a way that they want to be a client. Then there is operations, which is everything else from administrative duties to how you manage your time and how well your business provides those clients with great service.”
Sparks likened these three components to a three-legged stool. If all the legs are in place and functioning properly, the practice will have a steady foundation on which to build success. But if one leg of the stool is weak, the whole thing will fall over.
Sparks imparts this and other advice he’s gleaned over 10 years as a business coach for financial advisors in his debut book, “The Advisor Breakthrough.” The book packages all the lessons Sparks has learned and provides a step-by-step guide designed to help any advisor build their dream business without having to reinvent the wheel.
Sparks sat down with LifeHealthPro to talk about his new book and some of the advice he has for advisors.
LifeHealthPro: What have you found is the biggest key to an advisor’s success?
Shawn Sparks: We cover that in the book from a lot of different aspects. But to be honest, not everybody’s definition of success is the same. So before you can really answer that, you’ve got to know what success means to the advisor, then build from there.
LHP: Tell me more about that.
SS: Some advisors that I’ve worked with over the years have wanted to build a large business with hundreds of employees, while others wanted to just be the “advisor in charge” with a very lean office and very little management responsibilities. One advisor may want to bring in 100s of millions a year in new assets while another advisor may just want a business that supports their lifestyle and gives them a lot of free time where they can work as they please.
You first have to know what you really want your business to look like, then mold it and shape it into that. That’s ultimately what will be most satisfying in terms of success. So many advisors see another advisor on stage with huge numbers, and they try to reinvent themselves to be more like that advisor. But it’s not a match. They build something they don’t ultimately want, and end up being less fulfilled.
Sparks compiled advice he gathered over a decade of working with financial advisors to create a guide to success that any advisor can follow. (Photo: Shawn Sparks)
LHP: What made you want to write this book?
SS: Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked with thousands of financial advisors. In my early years, I’d work with just about anybody. As my business matured, I have been fortunate to work with many of the top financial advisors in the industry. Advisors bringing in 10s to 100s of millions a year in new assets.
After working day to day with all of these advisors over the years, I’ve been able to experience a lot of what they’ve gone through at all levels of production. I’ve seen firsthand some of the biggest issues advisors face in their business and how they can overcome them. I’ve also seen little tweaks they can make to create breakthroughs in production at the same time.
I’ve found that while no two advisors are the same, most advisors do face similar challenges, but they are limited to learning from only a very small group of their peers. I wanted to package up all that I’ve learned over the years from a broader sample of advisors and put it into a step-by-step guide so that anybody can learn from it — from an advisor who’s new to the business to those who have been in the business for decades.
LHP: What makes this book unique?
SS: My passion over the years has been helping financial advisors succeed. I learned I would never do that if I didn’t first become a student of the game myself. So I’ve read book after book, and I’ve studied what you see online and I’ve never found a comprehensive guide that will break this complex business down into a simple easy to follow guide.
There are a lot of books written about specific components of the financial services business, like sales, or how to give your clients a great experience. But I haven’t found one that broke all the components down into a simple-to-follow method.
In this book, I break it down from the way top producers think, their mindset, which is honestly one of the biggest differentiators in the most elite. We discuss marketing in detail, selling as well, and how to structure an office. We also share how to build a great team so you can ultimately scale your business and create freedom at the same time.