1. Not doing much prospecting. No one ever comes out and says that. We say “I grow my business through referrals.” Many advisors consider prospecting an early career rite of passage.

Instead: Every advisor should have some program, actively done by them or at a paid cost and overseen by them. It should keep the pipeline full.

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2. Not keeping up with technology. I’ll raise my hand to this one. In college, my father bought me an HP calculator with a thick instruction book. I used it to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Your firm periodically upgrades it’s computer system and CRM programs. They encourage you to use social media.

Instead: Be prepared to communicate with clients and prospects on their terms. Learn how the firm’s latest technology can improve client service and make you more money.

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3. Not engaging with the next generation. “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Wasn’t that a great ad! FYI: GM retired the Oldsmobile name in 2004. The heirs of your clients are likely their children. It’s unlikely their parents explained working with you is expected to be a multi-generational bond. They probably haven’t told their children what you do for them. These children, aka: “heirs,” have investing relationships elsewhere. When the parents go, so do the assets.

Instead: Encourage your clients to introduce you to the next generation in happy circumstances. Holidays are a good opportunity.

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4. Assuming your clients know what you do for them. It’s human nature. Some clients think when the market declines, their losses are your fault. When the stock market rises, their profits are you “just doing your job. It’s amazing the amount of work it takes to make something look effortless. They need reminding.

Instead: You might like everything they own and not want to change anything. They have no idea of the analysis you put into getting to that point. This came out in quarterly reviews.

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5. Assuming you have all their money. Some advisors give clients attention when there are more assets to be gathered. The relationship then goes onto automatic pilot. Your junior team members are the contact point.

Instead: See the bigger picture. They influence others, like the investment or an organization’s money. They might advise their parents concerning their money. Plus, there’s probably money they haven’t told you about.

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6. Assuming no one is prospecting your clients. It seems so obvious. Your best client’s are a competitor’s top prospects. Yet they assume, since they aren’t actively prospecting, no one else is either.

Instead: If you are in a personal relationship, you take steps to remind your partner you still love them. Clients need to hear they are appreciated.

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7. Thinking the mood of the office is the mood of the world. You know advisors who say: “I’ve got no business.” It’s a down market. There’s nothing we can do. We just need to ride it out.” It’s easy to join in and throttle back. Competitors are still prospecting your clients asking: “When was the last time you heard from your advisor?’ and “Is your advisor being proactive?”

Instead: The person at the next desk might be saying “Why bother?” They aren’t paying your mortgage. To a great extent, an advisor with a clientele is very similar to a person owning their own business.

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8. Starting retirement early. You haven’t mentioned retirement. You would deny it. Your behavior says otherwise. The curse of asset based pricing is fees continue coming in regardless the level of attention you give those clients. You take multiple vacations a year. Your ‘in the office” workweek is Tuesday through Thursday.

Instead: Understand your clients are paying for your time and attention. Have a system where every client is contacted often and you are working in the background, full time on their behalf.

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9. Being resistant to new products and services. Years ago, the complaint was “I’m not a banker” when firms introduced mortgages, checking and credit cards. This applies to new account types and services your firm introduces today. The rationale is: “I’ve always done business this way. This is what my clients want. They’ve never asked for these other products.”

Instead: Assume the firm did some research and determined clients and prospects represent a demand for these services. At least tell them about new offerings.

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10. Considering your firm an adversary. It happens. They change the compensation plan. They close or remodel offices. Seating changes. You get less sales support than before. If you started in the business with this firm, the firm that made you successful is now viewed as the one that wants to make your life difficult.

Instead: Assume changes are made to help people who are doing well to do better. Study the new rules. Find out what you need to do to win.

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11. Letting sleeping dogs lie. We’ve heard “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The opposite is clients who don’t make a fuss don’t get attention. The market declines. This client has suffered losses, but they haven’t called. You rationalize they must be OK with it or they haven’t opened their statement. You don’t call.

Instead: Treat the situation like a pressure cooker or boiling pot. You want to address the situation before it gets out of control. It might not be pleasant, but bad situations often get worse.

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12. Not appreciating your assistants and other staff. This ties into the early retirement scenario mentioned earlier. You are out of the office. Clients still call. Your assistant is tasked with handling it. They are overwhelmed. They quit. Business suffers because you need to find and train a replacement.

Instead: Share the wealth. Pay bonuses. Your firm should have a procedure. Don’t take as much time off.

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13. Ignoring changes in behavior. Your client who never traded now trades. Odd that it’s only one stock. Even odder, it’s the company where their brother-in-law works. Maybe a client who always accepted your advice now starts asking questions. They introduce another person who needs to “approve” your ideas.

Instead: Pay attention. Ask what’s going on. Draw them out. If the first example looks like trading on insider information, bring in your Compliance officer. Remember the mantra “Have a problem? Get a partner.”

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14. Ignoring your health. The job of being a financial advisor is stressful. It’s easy to put on weight by eating too much. Drink too much. Develop relationship problems. Develop addictive habits. You tire easily. Your attention wanders.

Instead: Maintain a good work/life balance. Get help if you need it regarding diet and exercise. Invest in relationships.

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“I’ve plateaued.”  How often have you heard it from another advisor?  How often have you said it?  Been sent to a class to fit it?  Why does it happen?

Unfortunately, once they become successful, many advisors promptly forget the behaviors that got them there in the first place.

How many of these mistakes sound familiar?

Fortunately, you aren’t a plateaued advisor. You’ve been interested enough to read this far. Please look at a more than dozen mistakes that result in an advisor’s business flattening by clicking through the (above) slideshow.

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