The rules of the business have changed.
The global financial meltdown has fundamentally changed financial advisors' rules for success. "Business as usual" is not coming back. There are new rules. If you implement them, you will prosper. If you do not, you will work even harder and harder for less and less.
Trying harder just won't do it. Putting in more effort to be successful the wrong way will only leave you frustrated and floundering. If you are already putting in a lot of extra time for a little extra payoff, you could be trying to win tomorrow's game in today's world with yesterday's rules. It's a strategy doomed to failure.
If you've seen me speak, you've likely seen my horseshoes and brass ring trick: Two horseshoes connected at the open ends by three links of chain on each side with a small brass ring trapped between them. It appears there is no way to remove the trapped brass ring without cutting the chain. Yet, with no effort but the right approach, it amazingly comes free.
Magic? No. Knowledge.
Few people figure this trick out, even with help. They put in enormous effort to force the ring off the chain but can't succeed. Perspiration and persistence isn't good enough for this trick and it doesn't work in this business anymore, either. You simply have to know the rules if you want to reach the brass ring.
Here are five new rules you must implement if you want to become a profitable and prosperous post-recession advisor. Consider them "lessons from the recession." If you take advantage of these rules, 2009 can still be your best year ever. But, if you let the rules take advantage of you, you'll need your own bailout.
Rule 1: General advice is dead--clients expect expertise over anything else. If we learned anything in the recession, it's that clients take our advice seriously. When it comes up short, they are severely disappointed. Today, you must choose a specialty and make it an expertise. Then, focus your expertise on a market where you have natural influence. Watch your business boom. Be specific to be terrific.
Rule 2: "Financial team quarterbacking" is the way of the future. One advisor can't be a one-stop shop, but, you can be a one-call advisor for a team. Build a team of appropriate specialists to handle the major financial needs of your natural audience. Then, quarterback their advice so your clients get the very best.
Rule 3: You must increase client expectations to improve your results. It may sound counterintuitive, but the higher your clients' expectations, the better a job you will do. Advisors are hardwired to live up to expectations. Set the standard high and everyone wins.
Rule 4: A "communication plan" is a critical element to a client management strategy. Lack of advisor communication was one of the biggest complaints at the depths of the market freefall. Prevent this in the future by finding out in advance how much communication, when and how is best for each client. Get it in writing.
Rule 5: A creative, purposefully-written engagement is mandatory. "Role confusion" puzzled many clients. They didn't know what their advisor was supposed to do, or what they were supposed to do, either. Besides appropriate compliance disclosure, make sure you also make your purpose, your role, their role and their benefit clear. Get "your story" out to get your relationship off on the right foot. Be their most trusted advisor.
You won't find these rules in mainstream media. There you will find "group think," where advisor advice is watered down by minimums and politics. This is real world advice.
Be aware of "paradigm drag"--the tendency to stick with the old ways of doing things even though it's time to do something different. Some advisors drag around their old paradigm when they need to develop a new one. They stall over taking new steps. If you are stalled, you could be suffering from it. But when you realize that it could be holding you back, you can make a change to get you moving ahead.
Take advantage of these new rules and be a more profitable "post-recession advisor" starting today. These rules will help you refocus yourself, re-energize your business and re-ignite your results to make 2009 your best year ever!
Jim Ruta is a financial industry expert and author of the book, Master Your Money Management--How to manage the advisors who work for you, available at www.JimRuta.com
By Jim Ruta, Financial industry expert