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Team Development Exercises for Wealth Management Advisors

By Ray Sclafani | March 3, 2016

Successful wealth management is a team concept and not an independent function. In order for the client’s work to get done, you need a team that willingly engages in the exchange of leadership among themselves. Your team should work together in a manner that evokes meaningful contribution, showcases the strengths of every team member, and advances consistent and effective group decision-making.

It’s what we at ClientWise have termed Total Team LeadershipTM and it’s the foundation for building a sustainable, scalable and profitable practice that’s able to continue serving clients for generations to come. We've built out many pieces of content to assist you and your wealth management team in building out that total team leadership and interdependency. There needs to be a focus on helping team members identify and build the skills they need to achieve their ambitions, or realize their strengths and weaknesses and alter their ambitions to better suit their skill sets.

Often, advisors are hesitant about initiating team building exercises. Observations such as, “My team members are more task-oriented than strategic…they’ll get lost with exercises like this and not know what to do” are commonplace. Understand, however, that even pushback or blank stares are valuable data. They tell you that you need to work a lot harder at inviting and encouraging your team to be more participatory.

Look inward to determine whether or not you’re still the principal choreographer with everyone else waiting for you to give them their marching orders. You’re never going to successfully build a Total Team LeadershipTM model unless you invite others to contribute and quietly allow them the space to think, shift and improve.

Most importantly, make sure you’re having these professional development conversations with members of your team on a regular basis. Don’t make the common mistake of waiting until annual review time to initiate these conversations and tying them to financial outcomes.


The Right Now Exercise

One of the simplest and most effective team building exercises we have is the "Right Now Exercise" a Keep/Stop/Start exploration that provides everyone with an opportunity to help shape the role they play on the team. The exercise encourages each individual to list:

  1. The things they’re doing right now that are working and they ought to keep doing;
  2. The things they’re doing right now that aren’t working and they should stop doing;
  3. What they need to start doing as a member of the team;
  4. What they would like to do more of and less of in 2016; and
  5. What team and individual achievements they’re most proud of from the past year.

Have each individual complete this exercise and then come together as a team to give everybody an opportunity to share their top 2-3 Keeps, their top 2-3 Stops and their top 2-3 Starts with the other members of the team.

My Professional Development Planner

This is an opportune time of year to commit to having a written Professional Development Plan for EVERY member of your team. There’s a wide range of planners available, including the ClientWise My Professional Development Planner, which many of our clients prefer to use because of its specific focus on the advisory team business model. These planners are designed to help team members gain clarity around:

  1. Their individual achievements and team contributions;
  2. The one thing they would like to change or improve about their role;
  3. How they could be more valuable to themselves and the team today;
  4. How they could be more valuable in three years; and
  5. What other team members want more of and less of from them

With those two exercises, your team members will have a clear roadmap for how they can improve and grow as a leader on the team and as a potential leader for the future. It’s the one sure-fire way to build a team of highly self-aware and self-reflective professionals – a team that knows how to think and adjust and change on its own, so if you’re not there, the business will continue to thrive.

Lastly, remember that there are always three truths – your truth about somebody, the truth they carry about themselves, and the truth in the middle. Ultimately, your goal is to close the gap, getting the truth in the middle more closely aligned with both your truth and their truth. If you can achieve that, you’re making genuine headway.

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Coaching Questions from this article:

1.     What actions can you take and what behaviors can you demonstrate to help your team think more strategically?

2.     Do you have a clear understanding of your team’s individual aspirations? What they like and dislike about their current roles?

3.     If you walked away tomorrow, could your business sustain itself? What actions can you take to begin improving that likelihood?


Topics: Team Development team coaching financial advisor team wealth management advisors

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