Letting Go to Grow

Growth often means moving past our old ways of thinking.

By Ray Sclafani

February, 2008 – Considering all of your experience, what would it look like if you were to create your ideal wealth advisory business today? Imagine for a moment that you have the chance to rebuild your business from the ground up. There are no limitations. You can choose the staff you most want to work with, the location you’ve always dreamed about, the best technology resources available and the fee structure that most appeals to you. Which client relationships and staff members would you take with you? Which would you leave behind? What types of new client relationships would you try to attract? Which of your unique abilities would you allow to shine in your perfect business? While this may sound like a fantasy, envisioning the future is an important step in creating the practice you want and deserve. To create your ideal business, you may need to let go of your old ways of thinking. One of the most common refrains I hear from advisors is: “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” The trouble is, the way you’ve always done it may not get you where you want to go. By sticking to your old habits and practices, you may get stuck and find yourself unable to move forward. Things that may stand in your way include old relationships with clients, work habits that may be time wasters, fear of failure or success and beliefs that are no longer true. Letting go creates room for growth and new possibilities. The first step to creating your ideal business is to define the obstacles that stand between you and your goals. Make a list of things in your current practices that are no longer useful. Often, the types of obstacles you face may fall into two broad categories: external and internal.

External Obstacles

These are obstacles related to your overall business management skills. Fortunately, they may have relatively simple solutions. Here are a few possible causes along with questions to consider.

  1. Poor time management. How do you spend your time? Are you primarilyinterfacing with current and prospective clients? Do you spend too much timeoverseeing your team? Are there certain time wasters that seem to take up adisproportionate amount of your workday?
  2. Lack of support. Do you have the right staffing to meet your goals forgrowth? Do your team members have clearly defined roles andresponsibilities?
  3. Outdated technology. Are you taking full advantage of the technologyresources available to you? Do you automate as many of your administrativeand operational tasks as possible?
  4. Non-productive client relationships. Do you have clients who no longerfit your optimum client-service model? Do you have unprofitable clients whotake valuable time and resources from you and your staff?
Internal Obstacles

Addressing challenges that lie within yourself can be just as important to address. I often refer to some of the internal challenges we all face as the acronym, FAIL: Fear, Assumptions, Interpretations and Limiting Beliefs.

  1. Fear. What are you most of afraid of when it comes to making changes inyour practice? What is the best and worst that could happen in anysituation?
  2. Assumptions. What assumptions or preconceived notions are holding youback? Do you assume that future will always be like the past? Remember, thefuture is often very different from the past.
  3. Interpretations. Is there more than one way to interpret your currentsituation? Things that look one way when we’re feeling nervous or hurriedare often viewed very different when we’re calm, cool and collected.
  4. Limiting Beliefs. Are you holding onto ideas that are no longer accurate?(“I can’t afford to hire someone new” or “I’ve been doing things the sameway for too long—it’s too late to make a change.”) What beliefs or ideaslimit you from reaching your fullest potential?
Moving Forward

Once you’ve made a list of the things you feel may be holding you back, the next step is to prioritize. Ask yourself, which obstacles represent the biggest challenges to your success? Which would create the greatest pay-off if you could eliminate? Once you have a few things in mind, you can create an action plan.

When it comes to letting go of external obstacles, consider a three-prong approach: delegate, eliminate and automate. Some obstacles, such as time wasters, can be delegated to a team member. Others, such as non-productive client relationships can be eliminated by helping clients who no longer fit your optimum client-service model find a new advisor who can better serve their needs. And some obstacles, such as outdated technology, can be automated by upgrading your systems or investing in new technology systems that can reduce your daily administrative tasks.

Letting go of internal obstacles, such as fears and outdated assumptions, can be just as important. One step to letting go of your internal obstacles is to schedule some alone time for yourself every week to review the week gone by, ask yourself what could have gone better and plan to act differently if needed for the week ahead.

You may also want to consider working with a mentor, a role model or a coach who can help you identify and move past internal obstacles.

To get started, make a commitment to let go of just one thing that’s holding you back from a higher level of success. Start with something obtainable and stick with it for the next three months. You’ll be amazed at the difference. If you’re still refining your business plan for the year, now is a great time to get started. You need to let go to grow. Walking away from things in your business, as well as your personal life, that may be holding you back is crucial to growth. By letting go, you create room for creativity and innovation.

Ray Sclafani is President of ClientWise LLC, an organization founded to support the financial advisory practice of the future. Delivering unique practice management strategies focused on client acquisition and retention, ClientWise provides coaching and training for leading financial advisors. For more information, e-mail ray@clientwise.com or call 1-800-732-0876.

Originally published in On Wall Street, February 2008.
Copyright Ray Sclafani 2008.