You’ve taken the leap or you’re ready to do so. You clearly see the benefits of establishing yourself as an independent financial advisor and you’re keen to go at it alone. However, there’s more to running a successful practice than client relationships and asset management.
If you insist on being a jack of all trades, you could end up compromising your chances of becoming the master of your own, so let go of the belief that you need to manage everything by yourself and focus on team leadership instead.
Even the most capable business owners need support.
As a financial advisor, keeping investors on track is where you excel. Similarly, managing the books is where accountants excel, managing appointments is where virtual assistants excel, and managing social media content is where content managers excel.
Each and every hour you spend performing non-essential tasks and/or tasks beyond your personal expertise leaves you with one hour less to devote to client service and asset management, which can have a negative impact on your business growth. So, instead of focusing on running a one-man or one-woman show, focus on being a strong leader.
In talking to advisors who lead growing practices, we’ve learned that the biggest challenges they face aren’t managing sales or investments but rather managing the individuals responsible for other tasks. Historically, broker dealers haven’t focused their efforts on helping advisors become strong leaders. However, a growing practice, like any growing business, needs people with strong leadership skills at the helm in order to achieve sustainable growth
It takes a strong leader to run a successful business.
Strong leaders recognize their strengths and limitations, and understand the importance of investing in a team of specialists — not only to avoid burnout but to ensure the smoothest possible operation of their businesses.
To create and run a team you can count on to keep things running while you focus on what you do best, it’s important to define clear processes, ideally with the input of team members. Processes allow tasks to be completed in a systematic and organized manner that reflects the standards you aspire to as an independent advisor.
Like a blueprint or guidebook, they map out how you want your business to flow. That said, they’re not carved in stone. In business, as in life, the only constant is change, so be prepared to revisit and hone your processes based on what is and isn’t working in your favour.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities should be established for all team members as these give individuals the sense of autonomy and responsibility that inspire pride and personal development, both of which lead to better performing individuals. Advisors often make the mistake of hiring additional staff to address issues, only to find that doing so exacerbates the problem and negatively impacts bottom-line results.
Defining roles and responsibilities can improve efficiency and employee satisfaction. It also helps prevent team members from stepping on one another’s toes. Individual accountability is clear, which limits finger-pointing in the event a ball is dropped, thereby minimizing the potential for conflict among team members.
When reaching these milestones, advisors need to examine the previously determined roles, responsibilities, and processes they assigned to their teams and determine if they are still effective — much like a retailer must do when going from a one-store to two-store operation, or a business owner scaling from five to 15 employees. Do this correctly and your business should thrive. Ignore this need, however, and you’ll likely notice an increase in client churn and a sense of no longer being in control.
Talking to other small business owners about how they lead and manage their teams can be incredibly insightful. Luckily, most advisors have a number of enlightened people they can reach out to for advice; namely, their clients.
Keep in mind that your team members have personal goals.
As committed as they may be to the growth of your business, they, like you, have ambition. Aligning compensation with their specific goals and responsibilities versus, say, a broad number like your revenue growth, conveys your commitment to their success, as does regular feedback.
When documenting roles, be sure to include leadership as one of yours. As a leader, schedule time to meet with your team members at least weekly to review activity progress, and at least once a year for more thorough performance reviews. As daunting as this may seem, it is essential. After all, without a commitment to your teams’ growth, how can you expect your business grow?
When conducting reviews, discuss your employees’ responsibilities and have conversations about where they are and are not on task. Acknowledge their strengths and provide direction on how they might be able to course-correct in areas of weakness. Moreover, take the time to listen and understand your staff. This will help you adjust and optimize individual roles, as well as your compensation and benefits program to ensure you are rewarding people in a manner that helps you maintain and grow top talent.
Leading a team takes time but when you consider the payoff — a better client experience and greater client retention — it is time well spent. The key to the success of an independent practice doesn’t lie in the technology you purchase. It lies in the team that supports it.
Reach out to Purpose Advisors Solutions for help determining the right level of staffing for your business, as well as support establishing the systems to manage your team. Whether you’re considering a change or frustrated that you’re not getting the results you want, we can help get you back on track.