By: Daniel C. Finley

Striving for Excellence

Often times, we as financial advisors and agents have a choice to make when it comes to the level of energy, effort and efficiency we bring to our businesses. We can “get by” and do just enough to maintain our current level, or we can choose to reach beyond.

Striving for excellence and going above and beyond is a choice and a state of mind that says that you aspire for more. It’s not about perfection, but rather about fulfilling one’s business purpose by constant and never-ending self-improvement. By adopting this way of thinking there is a higher likelihood that you will succeed at indeed growing and evolving.

Rick Pitino said “Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer.”

Unfortunately, most advisors and agents don’t take the time to holistically view all aspects of their business to determine where some work is necessary until they are in crisis mode. Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach successful advisors and agents use to work “ON” their business continually.

Step 1: Evaluate what’s Not Working

One of the hardest parts about running any business is to take the time to evaluate what is not working. The reason is that it can be difficult to admit fault or failure. However, when you are open to reflection around areas of potential and realize a tweak here and there can make a difference, you are then more likely to consistently address areas of weakness, especially when the outcomes are positive.

Take Beth T. for example, a newer financial advisor with less than five years in financial services who asked me during a coaching session if she was doing something wrong because a new client called days after opening an account (and transferring their assets to her) complaining that on second thought it seemed kind of expensive to purchase the mutual funds she had recommended.

Step 2: Understand what Works for Others

The next step is to understand what solutions have worked for others. It sounds simple but many times we think we are the only ones experiencing a scenario only to have a conversation with a colleague or mentor and find out they too have a similar experience.

In Beth’s case, I needed to know if this was a pattern or a single occurrence. She said that it had happened twice now in the last few months so that’s why she brought it up. After inquiring about how she explained her recommendations I determined that it wasn’t the price of the investments that clients were concerned about but it was the lack of value that somehow had not been retained. In other words, they understood during the meeting why they should diversify into mutual funds (which was to reduce risk) but completely forgot about it days later when they were thinking about the fees.

The solution was to make sure that Beth had all of the benefits of her recommendations typed out so the client or prospect could refer back to that ensuring everyone was on the same page.

Step 3:  Apply & Assess the Process

Once you know what to improve upon, you must apply the process and regularly assess the results.

Beth started presenting prospects and clients a summary page of all of the benefits of her recommendations. She would then give them a copy to take home and keep one in their file at the office. During client reviews she would add any additional summary pages when there were new recommendations. Prospects and clients liked the new process and Beth never had a client with a case of “buyer’s remorse” again!

Why Excellence is the Mark of Professionalism

It doesn’t matter if you are a financial advisor, insurance agent, butcher, baker or candlestick maker if you want to be considered a professional you must adept at honing your craft and the only way to do that is by being willing to accept and work on your weaknesses and develop your strengths.

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