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Financial Advisors: 8 Essential Elements to Developing a Great Team

By Ray Sclafani | April 11, 2013

Team Building
In The Wisdom of Teams, authors Katzenback and Smith define a team as: “…a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”


As business coaches, we have coached hundreds of financial advisors and financial advisor teams. The definition that Katzenback and Smith provide above is very apt. Even in this condensed description, they refer to most all of the essential elements that can guide top-performing FA teams.


What follows are 8 additional considerations that we have observed from many thousands of hours of experience of coaching financial advisory teams:


Common purpose. Teams that believe in an urgent and worthwhile purpose for their existence are more likely to live up to their performance potential. Teams work best in a compelling context, establishing urgency, demanding performance standards, and a clear direction. It is the leader’s (or leaders’) responsibility to keep that sense of purpose up-front and center stage.


Vision statement. We have observed that the best financial advisor teams have a vision that pulls them forward. This vision is a clear, detailed, specific image or representation of a desired future state that directs the team to fulfill a compelling purpose.


Core values. When forming a team, choose members who share core beliefs and values, e.g. passion for client service, honesty and integrity, work ethic, etc.


Shared expectations. Teamwork requires a shared set of expectations that encourage listening and responding constructively to views expressed by others, giving others the benefit of the doubt at times, providing support, and recognizing the interests and achievements of your teammates. These shared expectations help teams perform, but also promote individual performance by leveraging the experience and wisdom of team members.


Rules of engagement. All teams must expect to address the emotions that are a natural outcome of the human condition. The most positive way for recognizing team members’ emotions is by establishing norms within the group for caring and constructive “confrontation”.  For team members who cross the line and indulge in bad team behavior, the team must feel comfortable in calling foul. When an individual is upset, it makes an important difference if group members acknowledge the team member’s feelings, and address them as a team, when appropriate. Rules of engagement help establish cultural norms for the team.


Mutual accountability. Effective teams arrive at an expectation of mutual accountability, which cannot be coerced, but must be earned. Team members forge accountability towards each other, not just to the leader alone.


Complementary parts. Great teams have complementary skill sets and complementary personalities. One of the primary reasons that clients like working with teams is that the best teams offer a degree of specialization that address their increasingly complicated financial lives.


Courageous goals. The top performing teams understand how to generate goals that would not be achievable through individual effort alone. Otherwise, why have a team in the first place? By their nature these team goals might be: inspiring, exciting, adventuresome, and possibly inducing some degree of fear.


There is no one right way to build a team. Yet, however you build your financial advisor team, we suggest that you do so with intention and foresight. We trust that the above observations offer some guidance.


For additional insights into how you can build your team into a growing wealth management enterprise, please download the complimentary ClientWise Learning Tool below:


8 Wealth Management enterprise

Topics: Business Development Team Development

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