Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Readers,

When this article runs I will be on my annual family vacation. In anticipation of this, I will share some general thoughts and observations about things I see, teach and understand about what financial advisors face. I have the good fortune of working with many different firms – large and small – each and every week and as a result of the conversations I have and the work I do, I learn quite a bit.

Here are five themes to consider for your practice or firm:

  1. Most clients really don’t care how the sausage is made as long as you solve their problems, listen to them and be proactive with your communication. Too many advisors share everything about the portfolios, the process, the data and the details. Yes, some clients want to know the intricacies, but most do not. Be careful about overwhelming clients with information they don’t really need and don’t care about. Yes, I can also hear the compliance refrain – “we have to provide this information.” Of course you do, but it is more about how you provide the information. You can meet a compliance requirement by just handing papers to a client, you don’t have to walk them through everything. Remember fundamentally clients – like most human beings – just want to know you care for them. To quote Teddy Roosevelt, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  1. No consultant, coach, trainer, writer or teacher is ever going to give you the “aha” to run your business more effectively. We are blessed in this industry to have access to deep, smart and useful resources but time and time again I see advisors want the silver bullet, the roadmap for success, the “step-by-step” manual for growing and sustaining the business. As an entrepreneurship professor and a consultant, I can tell you – it’s all on you. Sure, someone can give you great ideas and help you with guidance but you are going to have to navigate. If you want to do something different, or reach a new goal, or reinvent your firm – set the clear goal, and create the plan and then work the plan. There is no magic to it, but it does take focus and discipline. To quote Peter Drucker: “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
  2. Sorry to share this but, yes, you are in sales. Every single person walking the planet is “in sales” depending on what they want and who they try to win over for it. If you are running a business, trying to grow your client base, or you simply want to help more people achieve their goals, then you are in sales. Sales does not have to be a negative, pushy, obnoxious thing. I also get those annoying canned emails on LinkedIn from people trying to sell me their services, I get the robo-calls night and day on home phone, work and cell phone. I have people ask me for donations and to volunteer all of the time. These activities can feel invasive and can be annoying (at least for me, a professional salesperson). You, however, are “selling” something that can change lives, help people do things they did not think possible and set a family up for financial comfort for generations to come. You have to talk about what you do. People need you. They want you. They just don’t know about you. Remove your objective to being a salesperson, and embrace being in a profession that can truly help someone. To quote Patrick McFadden, “People want to be educated not sold. They will sell themselves if you just commit to educating.”