The ClientWise Blog

How a Financial Advisor Coach Can Transform Your Practice

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Feb 13, 2012 1:12:00 PM


Transform your practice with a financial advisor coach.

Twelve months ago, it all didn’t seem possible. Matt Shafer, Mark Barber, and Jeff Winkler aspired to create a nationally-recognized financial advisory team with a broader reach, which also took advantage of the fact that each of them was officed in cities that were thousands of miles apart. However the year-ago reality was a far cry from their bigger aspirations.

Matt, Mark and Jeff had originally joined forces at the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney office in Boca Raton, Florida. However, family dynamics and other opportunities drew them apart. Jeff had returned to Detroit, and Mark to Boston, their respective places where each of them had grown up. Although the trio had achieved some success, it didn’t really meet what they wanted to accomplish as a team. Moreover, few others believed that the three of them could make a “virtual” team work together effectively.

The changes began with their decision to hire a financial advisor coach with ClientWise. Although the three of them had a general idea about their goal to create a team with a broadly-based, national scope, they were unclear as to how to get there. To create and fulfill their vision, the coaching partnership seemed like the only way to go.

Matt, Mark and Jeff engaged ClientWise and selected their coach, Tracy Stevens, a MCC-level financial advisor coach with 30 years of experience in coaching leaders, financial advisors, and entrepreneurs. What also became apparent to them is that they needed additional data points, in order to identify the gaps in their team structure, planning, and execution strategy. In their case, a 360-degree feedback analysis would seem to provide the best assessment of where they actually were. (A 360-degree assessment provides the coachee with firsthand information that is gathered from peers, supervisors, subordinates and clients; and provides an unvarnished perspective of the “current reality”.)

As difficult as it might have been for the team to face the undisguised truth, the 360-degree assessment provided them with an objective starting point. As their coach Tracy Stevens says, “The data is the data.”

Armed with the results from the assessment, the team collaborated with their coach to build their own 11-point plan to achieve their vision. As their coach, Tracy used many of the powerful techniques that make coaching so effective. Partnering with the team. Active listening. Powerful questioning. Brainstorming. Using direct communication. Checking in regularly to see how the plan was working. Offering observations on what she had seen work effectively in the past, and also giving the team the choice to select which observations would be most helpful to implement.

One of the powerful revelations of the initial assessment was that the team had a collective dynamic that was, potentially, very potent. On the flip side, the assessment also revealed some conspicuous gaps, most notably in communication styles and strategies, both internally and externally.

Today, the team is transformed. They have daily (virtual) meetings, first thing in the morning, rain or shine. They are fully accountable to each other, and have brought in their assistants as accountability partners. They have identified their unique and complementary skills sets, and defined their roles and responsibilities. Yet, the most telling example of this transformation is that they are actively identifying and planning their 3-5 year goals as a unit. This all wasn’t possible one year ago.

A further recognition (and celebration) of their yearlong transformation is this article, recently published in Worth magazine. Focusing on one of the central tenets of their value proposition, i.e. identifying and managing portfolio risk, the Worth piece serves as a marker to the team, their clients, and to the marketplace, that the Shafer Barber Winkler Group is becoming one of the leading wealth advisors on the national stage.

In order to contact them directly, go here.

More expert advice from ClientWise:

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Topics: Coaching, Team Development