What makes a good financial advisor? Here are 12 key traits.
#1. Business Owner, not Employee
Your job may be the closest you can get to owning your own business without many of the risks.
Good advisors do: Treat the business as a franchise and build revenue.
Read: Prospecting on vacation
Good advisors don’t: Describe the firm and branch director as “management” and assume an adversarial role.
#2. In For the Long Term
You enjoy your job and assume you’ll be doing it until you retire. You see every client as a long-term personal commitment.
Good advisors do: Take the long view.
Good advisors don’t: Assume they’re filling a role until their next assignment.
#3. Set Aggressive Goals
Ambitious goals focus your attention. The progress you make far outstrips a lower, safer target.
Good advisors do: Set lofty personal goals.
Good advisors don’t: Set easier goals based on incremental improvement.
#4. Put the Client First
Everything is done in their best interests, even if the advisor makes little money. The client understands and rewards the advisor with additional assets and referrals.
Good advisors do: Evaluate every action as though it’ll be reported in the newspaper.
Good advisors don’t: Put their own bottom lines first.
#5. Wear the other person’s shoes
When speaking with prospects, clients, staff or your manager, try to see every situation from both points of view.
Good advisors do: Understand the other’s point of view and consider compromising.
Good advisors don’t: Say or imply it’s their way or the highway.
#6. Invest in your own business
Cultivating clients involves getting out into the community—attending local events, for instance.
Good advisors do: Spend their own money when they feel it will lead to a bigger return or reward loyalty.
Good advisors don’t: Expect someone else to pick up every cost.
#7. Explain Costs
Our industry is both transparent and opaque. Some fees are obvious, others are revealed deep in the fine print. Clients don’t want to feel you’re holding something back.
Good advisors do: Start sentences with, “You should understand how we make money,” or “You should understand how I get paid.”
Good advisors don’t: Neglect to explain internal fees in products along with front- or back-end loads.
#8. Assume clients see everything
When the market’s bad it’s difficult to call clients and review their portfolios. It’s tempting to assume they don’t open statements. They do. Not calling creates the anxiety that things are worse than they are, or that you aren’t paying attention.
Good advisors do: Call clients even when the news is bad. (They also try to find good news to report.)
Good advisors don’t: Assume the client isn’t paying attention and plan to catch up reviewing when the market improves.
#9. Assume clients understand little
Advisors often assume clients understand more than they do.
Good advisors do: Start with, “I realize you know how trading on margin works, but I wanted to review…”
Good advisors don’t: Start explanations based on unspoken assumptions. The client may be embarrassed to admit ignorance.
#10. Treat everyone with respect
Busy advisors are sometimes brusque. Anxious clients get short shrift; rookie advisors are brushed off; staff is spoken to sharply.
Good advisors do: Treat everyone as if they’re the most important people in the room.
Good advisors don’t: Choose whom to berate and whom to fawn over.
#11. Own everything that happens
If the client’s account is under your production number, it’s your responsibility. If you aren’t giving the client attention, up your game or give the account away.
Good advisors do: Accept accountability.
Good advisors don’t: Blame support staff, the back office or client.
#12. Genuinely care
Take pride in your work. Radiate professionalism. Smile and exhibit patience.
Good advisors do: Enjoy working with clients and doing the best job they can.
Good advisors don’t: Treat clients as an interruption or appear they want to be somewhere else.