A man running through coronavirus, ahead of many competitors (Credit: Thinkstock)

Throughout the life of a business and in its highs and lows — such as we’re experiencing today — owners and leaders need to ask themselves one guiding question: Where do I need to take our firm?

This single question will set a path forward and force leaders to confront  the decisions they are making — or not making — about their business head-on. Such an approach will help leaders be more intentional about the decisions they make, especially in hard times.

Advisors who aren’t intentional about the direction of their business risk losing their sense of purpose. Left for too long, complacency erodes employee loyalty and client trust and eventually leads to the disaster of a once-strong business.

Sometimes, complacency can be mistaken for contentment. Let’s look at the difference between complacency and contentment — and how to keep yourself on the right side of that line while navigating tough times in financial services and worldwide.

Complacency vs. Contentment

Complacency is operating without direction. You’re in the wilderness, in a sense. It has nothing to do with firm size, and everything to do with attitude. It’s accepting “good enough” when you know you are capable of more.

The risk with falling into complacency is that inevitably, times change. Your clients may perceive you care about them less, or your employees may not know why they’re at your firm any longer.

How is contentment identified? It’s a state of happiness, wherever the wind blows you. You don’t need or want more than you have, because you have made the intentional decision to become what you are.

Put simply, contentment is a balance between all the things you are passionate about. And, it’s that passion that fuels hope and growth in the times we’re in.

Falling into the complacency trap isn’t a short process. It’s something you slip into over time and often becomes “normal.” But by remaining at rest for too long, you might miss and/or delay dealing with a crisis.

Keep Moving

Financial advisory firms today are in a crisis, along with the rest of the world.

Now is the time  to step up and refuel the passion you have for you business. To get going:

Start with “why” your firm exists.

Why you are doing what you are doing?

It probably has something to do with serving others. Now is the time for you to begin to serve others more deeply.

Communicate

Are you working with intention, or being reactive to what happens?

Now is the time for you to communicate with your clients, your team and those who support your business your why. Working through hard times requires you to ask for help.

Many people try to move past the “why” and put the “what I do” in first place, but that lack of core knowing will cause them to lose focus and purpose.

Every decision you make now in your business needs to come back to your why. You don’t need to change or grow, but you do need to be aware that in these hard times, your firm and your clients need you more than ever.

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Jarrod Upton, MBA, MS, CFP, is Chief Operations and Senior Consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent management consultancy for financial advisory firms. He can be reached at www.HerbersCo.com