They don’t do it on purpose, but still, too many advisors make unnecessary mistakes, which hold them and their clients back. Such errors lead to less effective advice, service, marketing and overall business results. So, ask yourself if you’re among those advisors who unwittingly make mistakes.
Your results hold the clues. If they aren’t satisfactory, then identifying and understanding these failures is the first step to improving your advice, service and results in today’s ever-changing and hyper-competitive market.
Once you address these problems, the results will automatically flow, allowing you and your team to realize your ultimate potential.
Check your own business model for these 10 failures:
1. Failure to develop a strong relationship with clients.
Clients abandon advisors who merely push transactions. Trust is the cornerstone of the relationship for A-list clients. And to win their trust, you need to know them better than any other advisor—their dreams, goals, family, business and employees. Get the soft and the hard facts. Pen your relationship expectations along with your rules of engagement. And once it’s built, make sure it lasts.
2. Failure to focus.
Everyone knows that a "Jack of all trades is master of none." Yet, scrambling to do it all yourself continues to be the biggest mistake advisors make. In trying to do everything, you’re bound to neglect some things. And, that negligence will grow into a gaping hole in your performance. It’ll expose you to embedded liability— the liability you unknowingly build into your business by virtue of the way you work.
3. Failure to research your audience.
It sounds corny, but you really have to "know your stuff, and know who you’re stuffing, before you can stuff them." Too many advisors seem to do their research on the fly, asking clients only about specific needs. If, instead, advisors took the time to understand their client bases, understand these people’s needs, wants and options, they could prescribe solutions that belie deep knowledge. Having insider information makes you a compelling advisor. And, of course, it attracts more business and referrals.
4. Failure to build an expert team.
It’s not about you. It’s about your clients. They expect expertise, experience and excellence. They seek a trusted advisor to simplify and coordinate complicated affairs. Once again, trying to do it all yourself will leave you overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed. Build a competent team of professional advisors, and make it a combined effort.
5. Failure to simplify.
Clients need interpretation, not information; context, not content; wisdom, not data. You’ll lose connection the moment you get complicated. Reciting complex details makes you sound amateurish. You lose authority and impact. Referrals become rare, business spotty. People want experts. For that, you need to understand your team’s expertise well enough to be able to simplify the value to your clients. If you can do that, you become the expert.
6. Failure to follow rules.
This is not about obvious, malicious intent. When you hold yourself out as a designated professional, you’re obliged to follow the profession’s rules of conduct. The problem generally doesn’t arise until your advice is questioned in a "Statement of Claim." Then, unless you’ve followed the rules religiously and can prove so, you’re out of luck. A study of 144 claims against financial advisors found that only three could be defended in court. The rest settled prior to trial. And money isn’t all they lost. They lost reputation, confidence, and time.
7. Failure to assess accurately your client’s risk tolerance, and your ability to affect returns.
Advisors inadvertently over-estimate their ability to affect returns and their client’s ability to absorb risk. It’s a deadly combination, and never works well for either advisors or their clients.
It usually happens inadvertently, though. You complete a detailed KYC form and feel you know the client’s risk profile. But often you don’t, and find out only when it’s too late.
Another fatal flaw is over-promising your ability to deliver results. Many advisors are lulled into a false belief that modern portfolio theory, asset allocation and fund propaganda yield much better results than the market. When this isn’t even true for most actual fund managers, imagine how much less impact you’d have. Here’s the truth: clients are much more risk-averse than they ever tell you. And you can do much less about returns than you think. Sorry.
Begin every client relationship by explaining the true nature of risk and loss, not just return. Make knowing your client a process, not a piece of paper. Take courses that help you educate your clients to make better decisions.
8. Failure to sell shamelessly.
The only magic left in financial planning is getting people to do it. Shamelessly may be a strong word, but it applies. Inability to sell your services keeps the best advice from getting to people who need it most. It’s like having the cure for cancer but keeping it locked up in your basement. No one wins. Expert financial advice from a competent, professional team is more important now than ever, but unfortunately selling it is still considered taboo. Break through this stigma. If you’ve got something good, let clients know.
9. Failure to keep learning.
The only way to coast is downhill. You’re never too old, experienced or successful to become a better advisor. So take on a new designation. Develop enough knowledge outside your specific area of expertise to be able to distinguish good advice from bad. Be bold. Put your knowledge on the line and be tested. Stay alive and growing.
10. Failure to evolve and invest in your business.
What’s all this talk about succession? You don’t need to escape if you love what you do. Invest in your team and yourself and you’ll never want to retire. Be fired up. Take on new challenges. The most profitable time to be an advisor is when you know you have more answers. Take on the upcoming generational transfer of wealth with enthusiasm and help more people than ever. And do it on your own terms.
Now, remember, these failures are neither fatal nor final. You can address any one of these subtle mistakes today and begin the transformation to a more efficient practice. When you do, you will automatically help more people— and more people will help you. Everyone loses unless you change. Everyone wins when you do.