Shooting For The Next Level

By Ray Sclafani

June 1, 2006 – In 1981, Duke University hired Mike Krzyzewski to coach its men’s basketball team. Over the next 25 years, Krzyzewski’s career at Duke would become legendary. His uncanny ability to draw out the best in each of his players helped the team make almost a dozen appearances in the NCAA’s “Final Four,” while winning three of those championship titles. Having the right coach helped the Blue Devils become one of the most respected college teams in the nation.

Today, it isn’t just basketball players who can benefit from great coaching. Many of the nation’s leading financial advisors are seeking professional guidance on how to improve their game. While these advisors may already be top producers, managing more than $100 million in assets, they realize they need assistance to reach the next level. They may excel at managing money, but often lack other important skills that are vital to growing their businesses over the long term. And that’s where coaching comes in. Coaching helps financial advisors identify their strengths and weaknesses, while creating a path for beneficial change.

The Benefits Of Working With A Coach

“When you’re a top producer, you’re used to being your own boss,” says Elizabeth Manibay, an executive coach with more than eight years of experience working with some of the industry’s top financial advisors. “Sometimes you need someone who can help you think and act differently.” A coach can provide an impartial point of view when helping financial advisors identify and address issues crucial to their success, she says. This can be especially important for executives because they often don’t have colleagues they can talk to about the challenges they face. Manibay believes that coaching can help advisors let go of old ways of thinking that may be keeping them from reaching their full potential.

Accountability is another important benefit of hiring a coach. “Your coach is someone who helps you stay on the right track for meeting your goals,” Manibay says. “As a coach, I help my clients identify and articulate their priorities, then help them figure out whether they’re spending their time in a way that truly supports their objectives.” Other benefits of hiring a coach include having access to new ideas and new approaches, having someone to vent frustrations to when times are tough and having someone who will help keep you motivated to make changes when needed.

Financial advisors are also seeking professional coaching to assist them in developing and running their practices. This may include coaching of communication skills, improving staff motivation and development, enhancing client relationships and focusing their vision for their practices. It is important to consider both personal and professional goals when engaging a coach. Your entire life needs to be in balance in order to reach the next level!

Navigating a Changing Industry

In an increasingly competitive and changing environment, it’s not enough to simply manage money anymore. One trend that many advisors need to prepare for is the commoditization of the asset management industry, and a good coach can help. As more competitors enter the marketplace, advisors can no longer afford to be complacent about their businesses. Investors are increasingly savvy about investments and working with advisors. If advisors aren’t growing their businesses, they may be at risk of losing assets to new industry players.

Another trend that coaching can help advisors prepare for is the aging of America’s baby boomer population. As investors approach the age of 60, they frequently look for a new advisor or seek to consolidate multiple advisory relationships into a single relationship. For advisors, this means that they need to spend less time managing money and more time listening to and talking with their clients. A coach can help advisors develop new marketing skills and new approaches to growing their business with this segment, if needed.

What To Look For

Financial advisors who are interested in hiring a coach should look for someone who can clearly explain the outcomes and expectations of what they want to accomplish, as well as help them articulate the value of the services they are providing to their clients. They should look for hands-on experience and an intimate understanding of the challenges they, as advisors, face. And finally, they should feel trust and a genuine rapport with a coach before committing to an engagement. Many coaches expect a minimum of a three-month engagement when working with advisors. Just as it often takes years to build a successful practice, making changes is a long-term process.

Whether you are an athlete or a financial advisor, finding the right coach can make the difference between getting by and reaching the top. Whatever your goals, a seasoned coach can help you achieve them.

“Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do in the best possible manner at the time you are supposed to do it,” Duke’s Krzyzewski once said. Likewise, a good coach can help financial advisors maintain the discipline to achieve their vision for their practices, while helping them continue to achieve success in a rapidly changing industry.

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.