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A Successful Financial Advisor Team is Run from this Legal Pad, but…

By Ray Sclafani | May 21, 2013

...can it continue?

Recently I was traveling for business meetings in south Florida, and had an engaging conversation with a very successful advisor. This discussion was enlightening on a broader scale, and the advisor has given his permission to share our thoughts.

Nelson Faro has received many honors over the course of his 25+-year career, e.g. a Barron’s Top 1000 Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley’s President’s Club, Premier Financial Advisor of the Year (South Florida Business Journal), etc.

In chatting with Nelson, we discussed the systems, structures, and processes of staying organized that have worked for him up to this point. I asked, “How do you stay organized? What’s your structure? How do you keep your flourishing team on point, and focused?”  The group all started to laugh and express that “Dad had a unique way of organizing himself, but it wasn’t the most useful for the team structure.”

Nelson smiled and responded by saying, “Well, I have a system that has worked well for me many years. In fact, let me show you.” And then, he pulls out this dog-eared legal-sized business pad…and the group bursts into laughter. (see the image) Indeed, it was simple and had obviously worked for him. Yet, as the laughter attested, it wasn't necessarily serving the team that well.


Adapting New Learning for Team Success

Nelson Faro’s honors speak for themselves, and are a testament to his skills and a thriving financial advisory career. It is obvious that his system and manner of thinking has been very successful, and has brought him to the level of success that he is experiencing today. 

At the same time, what is equally apparent is that the business world today is much different from the time when Nelson broke into the business, where the only computers that existed were huge IBM mainframes and mobile phones weighing 2 lbs. and nicknamed “The Brick".

Moreover, Nelson has used his wisdom and foresight in building his diverse team of professionals, including his two sons, Forrest and Kyle. Like many successful advisors, Nelson is always looking to reinvent himself, and is driven by other admirable qualities, e.g. curiosity, courage, and a steadfast commitment to his clients.

However, the question that I had last week for Nelson is a question that I often get when I speak with senior financial advisors;

How does a successful advisor with 20, 30, or even 40 years of experience apply his/her great organizational thinking and business-building expertise, towards building a team that will live into the next generation?


What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

This is the brilliant title to Marshall Goldsmith’s iconic textbook that advises executives how to manage their behavior in the face of unceasing change. It also suggests to financial advisors like Nelson Faro that the key to their future success might be linked to:

  • Their ability to recognize their skills and strengths,
  • Framing up their success in new ways that change and improve what’s worked in the past, and create an even bolder, brighter outlook

As one who has worked with and coached thousands of financial advisors, I also know that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to success. No one size fits all. There is no secret sauce.

The top-of-mind question that I would ask of advisors like Nelson Faro is this:

What’s the learning from the successful structures that you’ve built in the past, and how are you adapting this learning to inform how you are positioning yourself, and your team, for future growth?


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Topics: Team Development

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