Successful Financial Advisors are a unique combination of leader, entrepreneur, and professional practitioner. It can take years for entrepreneurial and professional skills to develop, but leadership is something that advisors need to be focused on right out of the gate.
In his many books and programs, business writer Brian Tracy gives us his Seven Principles of Leadership: clarity, competence, commitment, constraints, creativity, continuous learning, and consistency.[i]
Here’s how they apply to YOU, as a successful Financial Advisor.
- Clarity – Be clear about your opinion on the markets (note that I didn’t say you have to be right all the time). Be even more clear about the advice you are giving. There can be no doubt in your clients’ minds as to what you think they should do. Advisors also need to be clear about their values and ethics. People pay for clarity, not for confusion or complexity.
- Competence – This goes beyond knowing how to profile clients, identify investment objectives and manage portfolios. It means being capable of sticking your neck out and taking calculated risks. That means being strong enough to own both the advice and the results.
- Commitment – Commitment to clients, commitment to staff, and commitment to the business. An advisor who is committed will bring everyone along eventually. Someone who is not fully committed will regularly lose clients, see high staff turnover, and eventually see their impact fade.
- Constraints – Financial advisors are bound by more constraints than any other professional! Clients’ poor decisions, market results, regulatory realities and staff problems all get in the way of what would otherwise be a very pleasant way to earn a living. Accepting these restraints is the sign of a leader. Trying to sneak around them is the stamp of a fool.
- Creativity – This is a critical task for any leader. Create opportunities for new business. Create opportunities for clients to make money. Create opportunities for staff to do their best. Always be looking for new and better ways to do what you do. It’s not an option, it’s a responsibility.
- Continuous Learning – Great financial advisors go to meetings. They read the newspapers. They study books and watch good programs. THEY DO THEIR CONTINUING EDUCATION, accepting it as a necessary part of being a professional. Why? Because every leader knows that the biggest opportunity is yet to be discovered, and the only way to discover it is to keep learning.
- Consistency – Do you know what your clients and your staff don’t like? They don’t like the unexpected. They get plenty of it from the markets, from their families, and a hundred other sources. Don’t allow yourself, EVER, to be a source of the unexpected. Do the same things, in the same ways, at the same times. If you are going to introduce change, let them know exactly what it is and why you are changing it. YOU are their rock. YOU are their guiding star. YOU are their leader. Don’t mess with their heads by surprising them.
[i] Tracy, Brian. No Excuses! The Power of Self Discipline. New York: MJF, 2010. pp. 148-151