Ours is an intriguing business. Take a moment and think about our industry five short years ago. Think about how different the industry looks today. It continues to change at a pace that’s unlikely to slow down and may even become more rapid.
Clients are moving from desiring more value to demanding more value as they see what the marketplace offers. As a financial advisor and owner, you’re asked to do more with a higher level of expertise, filling more roles than ever before.
Add to that the degree of complacency that exists in advisory firms. Despite not driving meaningful net new assets, firms experience rising revenues based on market gains. Comfort sets in. Your vision changes. Passion plateaus.
That’s never a good place for a business, and it certainly isn’t exciting.
If you’re seeing that or any hint of that, challenge your mindset. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I excited about the business more than ever before?
- Does my five-year vision for growth inspire me?
- Am I truly competitive with the best?
- Am I operating as an impactful CEO or am I simply an owner?
- Am I positioned to grow, be efficient and deliver the client experience I want to?
The gap between the best and the rest is growing in the advisory space. Clients and prospects – especially the most attractive kind – are recognizing the divide. I call this “value demand.” Clients used to desire a higher degree of value. More and more, they’re demanding it – they’re more educated about what’s available and what firms do and don’t offer.
So, what keeps advisors from learning enough to make a quality decision about the future of their business? There are three issues and mental hurdles you’ll most likely need to overcome to achieve your vision for your business.
Fear of Change
Any growth that an advisor has historically experienced likely required change – a change in vision, strategy and/or execution. But, as an advisor evolves and experiences success, they may get used to their lifestyle or business approach and find it more difficult to change.
Challenge your thinking. True growth requires change.
Leading-edge firms need to embrace change to improve results, become more efficient and deliver a better client experience. Don’t ever become uncomfortable with the thought of change, because it will keep you from identifying great opportunities.
Lack of Perceived Value
The most successful firms are the ones that approach opportunities with a desire to learn. They perceive value until proven otherwise. That “open” approach allows them to learn, and once you educate yourself, you’re positioned to know whether you want to move forward. This is true whether you’re exploring new technology, considering adding a team member or studying a new RIA or broker-dealer relationship.
This lack of perceived value tends to become more visible as you experience success – after all, you’ve gotten this far doing what you do today – so it becomes challenging to objectively consider whether where you are is where you want to be, on multiple fronts.
You’ve grown, but the growth is starting to plateau. You provide a quality experience to clients, but it probably isn’t where it could be. Revenue is in a pretty good place if markets cooperate. You still enjoy the business but not like you used to. That sounds like a fairly attractive scenario, but you can identify the seeds of complacency taking root. Because they’ve gotten comfortable, those owners might not initially see the potential that exists by evolving. Push yourself to take an objective look at what you’re doing.
There are times in life when you come across what could be a great opportunity to reinvent yourself and position your business for a new level of success. But the timing isn’t ideal. You just re-papered three years ago. You left a partnership 18 months ago. You’ve had staff turnover. The markets are choppy, and you made some changes to your investment management process within six months.
There are almost always reasons that can be categorized under “now’s not a good time.” Fight the temptation to settle.
Opportunity doesn’t care about timing. It shows up when it shows up. And it’s always a good time to examine something that can improve your business and results. Bad timing only truly exists when a situation absolutely prevents you from acting.
What Are You Willing to Do?
Carson Group Founder Ron Carson once asked himself if his advisory firm was the one that he would want to manage his family’s wealth if he were gone. Even as successful as he was at that point, he couldn’t confidently answer “yes.” This realization could have introduced fear of change and some uncertainty, sure. The timing might not have been perfect – or maybe it was, depending on your perspective. But Ron was willing to do what it would take to answer “yes.”
Have that mindset and conviction about your business and your future. See what’s possible and push yourself to new heights. It can change your business – and your life.