The ClientWise Blog

The Honest Conversation that Financial Advisory Teams Need to Have

Posted by Alix Purcell on Dec 1, 2014 12:10:00 PM

Working as a true financial advisory team requires a certain amount of vulnerability and a ton of honesty on your part as the leader. It means letting go of some of the control you’ve had, and in some cases admitting that you’ve been doing this whole teaming thing wrong. Here’s why: Great producers are accustomed to doing everything on their own. Their success is marked by what they alone have accomplished. They’re in competition with everyone else as individuals. However, as indicated by some of the best leaders in the financial services industry, and our Barron’s ranked advisors, true leadership is attained through collaboration and co-creation with your team members. It’s about stepping outside of your role as producer and stepping into your role as CEO and leader of a team.

So how do you start? This question was recently posed to ClientWise Founder & CEO Ray Sclafani at a Barnum Financial Group conference, by an advisor who wants to make the switch to Total Team Leadership, but has been doing things one way for so long that he isn’t sure how to make the switch. This sparked a conversation about some steps to take with your team to make the transition from solo-producer to true team leader. (Note: These are different from the steps that you as an individual should take to make this transition).

Awareness: Start by creating an open awareness between you and your team members by acknowledging how you’ve done things up to this point. Note the good and the bad aspects, and the direction you’re looking to take from there using Total Team Leadership and collaboration as your model. Invite the opinion of your team members into this conversation. This, after all, is the reason for having the conversation in the first place, so set the example from the outset. Understand that creating this awareness is only the first step, and that this is a process that will take work. Creating an open culture of sharing and awareness between your team members doesn’t happen overnight.

Invitation: After the initial awareness conversation, invite your team members to co-create a better model through collaboration. Get everyone’s ideas on paper about what co-creating, co-authoring, and collaboration looks like. Then get them to share what it means specifically for your team and what that looks like moving forward. After you’ve shared your ideas, think about how to apply these to the different areas of your business. Go through all the areas of the ClientWise Professional Advisory Model (PAM)™ to create a process of collaboration for each: Organizing Priorities, Client Engagement Model, Client Acquisition Strategy, Marketing Approach, Team Development, Professional Advocate Network, and Business and Operations Management. Take into account your overall team goals, the individual goals of each member of the team, and the strength and weaknesses of each member of the team, including you as the leader. While each member of the team will contribute to the team in their own unique way, they will all contribute to what this looks like for each member of the team.

Agreement: This is the part of the conversation where you formalize what your agreement looks like. In this process, each member of your team should clearly articulate their roles aloud and agree to them in front of all members of the team. While this might seem unnecessary, it is a helpful exercise in realizing how important everyone’s contribution is, how the members of the team collaborate, and in acknowledging the unique contribution that each member brings. It also creates an accountability structure because all members of the team are aware of how their roles rely on the completion of the others’ roles and vice versa.

Measurement & Adjust: This is perhaps the most important part of this process because it is so frequently overlooked. Once the agreement is made and the members of the team begin to carry out their roles, it is important to track the success of these roles. Part of the invitation and agreement above should be around how this measurement is made. Tracking the success of these roles is the best way to ensure you haven’t sacrificed the larger objectives and overall goals of your team for the sake of co-collaboration and true teamwork. If you find that the plan you’ve outlined isn’t working in accordance with what you’ve projected, set aside time to make the appropriate adjustments using the same steps outlined above.

The idea behind this exercise is to adjust your team members’ perception of the team, how they see you as a leader, and how they see themselves as members of your team. This impacts everything from how they outline their objectives to how they achieve their goals and those of the team. Start the honest conversation today to make the transition to Total Team Leadership for 2015.


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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Business and Operations Management, Leadership, Communication, Team Development