The financial industry is continuously developing and becoming increasingly complex. It’s imperative for you to stay up-to-date with these changes and successfully manage a business at the same time. It’s critical to be specialized, provide accurate counsel and deliver exceptional results. Long-term financial planning is a serious matter and clients are looking for assurance their investments are in good hands, managed by a trusted advisor who offers a customized approach for their needs.
What has helped me achieve the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)’s highest honor, Top of the Table, for the past 18 years is the exposure rooted in the foundation of MDRT. In addition, attending both industry and non-industry meetings have helped me grow personally and professionally. In looking at my own practice, these 4 elements have proved to be most important:
1. Stay Connected
Earning your CLU, ChFC or CFP designations and participating in continuing education programs help you remain current on financial skills and best practices. Joining a leading association will afford you the opportunity to take advantage of the many tools and resources available to members. Attending industry events like MDRT’s Annual Meeting provide an opportunity to build relationships with fellow advisors worldwide to expand your outlet of knowledge. Such experiences can help you gain exposure to new markets, as well as ways of conducting business you may not have thought of in the past. The more involved you are in associations, the bigger your network of influential advisors and access to ideas and information shared to help grow your business long-term.
2. Narrow Your Focus
Whether you are a new or seasoned advisor, it’s important to be a student of this profession. Learn as much as you can about the business, and explore what areas are most interesting. I recommend finding one or two areas you find inspiring. Learn the ins and outs of a specific field and focus your efforts on becoming an expert in that area. In my opinion, the biggest mistake financial advisors make is being involved with too many products and services. Moreover, clients will know they can rely on you for qualified and accurate advice.
3. There is No I in Team
In addition to being an effective advisor, it’s important to surround yourself with a highly efficient team. A successful staff should be made up of experienced, skilled and well-trained individuals who are respected and have job satisfaction. If they are producing exceptional work, they should be rewarded. Outstanding employees won’t stay at a job doing high-level work for low-level pay. I found adding incentive compensation to a job people are passionate and educated about and aligning it with the goals of the company to be effective. The advantages of offering competitive compensation as well as a healthy work environment is exceptional employee retention and – your staff will want to stay with you for the long-term. In exchange, this gives you a highly-capable and extremely educated team you can rely on.
4. Building Relationships
The ability to present recommendations and solutions to a client with clarity and simplicity is key. If the customer understands the benefits and security offered they will be more inclined to implement your recommendations and solutions. The sale is crucial, but so is building client trust and loyalty. You must go the extra mile by not only sending warm emails, birthday cards, meeting face-to-face, but also calling your clients and having client appreciation events. These additional gestures will help you stand out from competition and ultimately help keep a long-term advisor-client relationship. For example, if there are five people selling the same product or service to one customer, assuming the price and services offered are the same, and the advisor has a proven background of knowledge, then the client will likely choose with whom they are most comfortable.
I’ve learned over the years it not only takes continuous education, but commitment and dedication to achieve success. Being a qualified member of MDRT and consistently achieving Top of the Table status, has provided an avenue of opportunity to see things through other people’s eyes, not just in the United States but around the world. If you want to reach the top, look beyond the horizon and the opportunities will be limitless.
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- An MDRT Strategy: 4 Essential Elements to Make Top of Table - August 20, 2016