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Letting Go to Grow - Team Building for Financial Advisors

By Ray Sclafani | May 20, 2014

Often in life and in business we’re faced with the challenge of letting go of old belief structures in order to create the space necessary to make room for new ones that prepare us for greater successes. In my 20 years of coaching financial advisors, I’ve come to realize that the biggest transition many advisors experience is in reframing their image to clients when they move from being soloprenuers to creating their own team or firm. This can potentially make them more profitable and provide great learning opportunities for them as leaders, but it is not without its challenges.

While this transition is different for every team leader based on his or her individual goals and financial advisory team dynamic, there is a “letting go process” that seems to work for many of our coaching clients. When asked the question “how do I even begin?” I tend to reply with something along the lines of the following:

Create Common Intent:
Common intent, also called common purpose, is an essential keystone of high performing teams. It gives teams an identity that is beyond the identity of one individual, including you as the leader, and is based on a jointly determined ambition that is significant in size, aspirational in scope, and possible to achieve. If you’re experiencing difficulty in determining which responsibilities to hand over to your team members, begin by involving them more in the discussion of how to serve your clients and your organization, with a purpose that is broader than the team itself and has an emotional component to it. This will give your team members a sense of inclusion and investment in the outcome of their work; simultaneously, it will give you some insight into your team members’ level of understanding and knowledge-base before you really begin delegating specific tasks.

Allow Team Members to Co-Create their Roles in Partnership with You:
This, like creating common intent, will give your team members a greater sense of involvement and encourage accountability for what they do. While their roles and development plan should ultimately be approved by you as their leader, giving team members ownership of the process will generate greater follow-through on their day-to-day tasks and commitment to the overall goals related to their roles, while alleviating you of some of the initial responsibility of determining this. This frees up your time to focus on areas of the business that require your unique skill set and ability.

Delegate operations:
Only 15% of advisors have an operational plan for their businesses to ensure they are running as smoothly as possible, and most report that they lack the time and energy to do create these plans. Why not delegate the trust in these responsibilities to a capable team member who has the time and potential for development, while simultaneously giving yourself an opportunity to better understand that team member’s skillset and work mentality?

Involve everyone in client engagement:
During one of my workshops I asked co-CEOs of a very accomplished team what they experienced as the greatest benefit in building a team. Their response was simply the relief in knowing that they didn’t have to answer the phone every time it rang. This seemed like a simple enough answer, but in considering it after the workshop I realized that what they’d actually created was a partner in their client engagement process. It meant that they’d brought their team members into the fold enough to understand the needs and expectations of their clients, so that the responsibility of catering to them wasn’t always on the shoulders of the leaders themselves. This had the added benefit of making the clients feel an even greater sense of care and consideration from the team on the whole, rather than from the leaders alone.

Strategically Leverage The Differences in You and Your Team Members:
Take age as an example: In an industry that threatens massive change in coming years with the shift in wealth transfer from the Baby Boomer Generation, 51% of teams surveyed have no succession plan for their businesses, let alone for their clients. Having a team of younger advisors automatically puts you at an advantage, because they can become part of your succession plan for both. Start bringing younger team members along to meetings with clients whose children may want to work with someone closer to their age and perspective. In addition to helping those younger team members better understand your current clients, it provides a natural point of transition to discuss succession planning for those clients’ heirs.

The takeaway here is that transitioning from a solopreneur to team structure might not be easy, but if you can determine specific steps along the way and view those steps from the perspective of creating some relief from your workload, it can make the process seem much less ominous.

Powerful coaching questions to consider from this article: 

1.  How can you improve your strategic hiring plan based upon your current plan for future growth?

2.  What improvements could you and every member of your team take to shape the culture of your organization?

3.  What additional work needs to be considered to create professional development programs for each member of your team as this will help maximize your human capital investment?

4. Have you given your team members the opportunity to personally shape their roles and responsibilities?

5. What aspects of operations can you pass off to your team members to free up your time so you can focus on aspects of your business for which you are uniquely qualified, like client engagement and client retention?

6.  How comfortable are your clients engaging with other members of your team in the event that you are unavailable?

7. Have you considered how your team members can play an important role in succession planning for your clients and their heirs?  What do you need to do in order to ensure this?



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