Since the great depression, dips, downturns and nosedives in the financial markets have set investors on edge. In the wake of Covid-19, the razor’s edge has never been thinner. As financial advisors well know, sleepless nights often transform into decisions that are more ill-conceived than prudent. Coaching investors through these uncertain times — before, during and after a crisis — is critical.
When the market drops, conversations with your clients become vital. The importance of those exchanges does not wane as a crisis abates or, in the case of the coronavirus, isolation becomes standard operating procedure. “Financial advisors need to connect with their clients to find out what concerns them,” says April-Lynn Levitt, a certified financial planner and business coach with The Personal Coach, which offers customized business coaching for advisors, in Oakville, Ont.
Dig deep, advises Chris Hornberger, a certified executive coach in Halifax. “You need to understand your clients’ specific concerns. Identify what they are worried about.”
Forward projections help you do that, Hornberger adds. Determine where clients want to be financially (and otherwise) in five years’ and 10 years’ time. Review their financial plans to see if, even in the midst or the wake of an economic upheaval, those goals still can be attained. If not, discuss how a plan could be revised to make them attainable.
Taking a step back in time with a client also can be beneficial, says Hornberger. “Ask them to recall a similar time previously when they were concerned. Ask them how they got through it. Ask them how their life — and their finances — were affected.”
Coaching clients is fundamentally about building trust. Will clients naturally turn to you after the storm has passed? “That is a measure of their trust in you when they reach out,” says Hornberger.
Hornberger adds that not receiving calls from clients is not necessarily a good thing before or after a crisis. “Do not assume if you are not hearing from clients [that] it is because they are not worried. If they do not hear from you, it can create distance.”
Looking at the issue from more than one angle and time frame can also help clients put any declines in financial markets in perspective. Covid-19 aside, market downturns are status quo. “Remind clients that we [recently were] in the 11th year of a bull market, which is historically much longer than normal, so downturns shouldn’t [have been] unexpected,” notes George Hartman, CEO of Market Logics Inc. in Toronto.
Coaching clients through uncertain times is about more than pointing to longer-term projections. “Play a leadership role when things are bad. Go beyond the investment information. See the big picture,” says Levitt. Coaching is ultimately about building a relationship that will stand the test of time and tumult. That relationship requires ongoing touchpoints as situations change, often at breakneck speed. “Communicate before, during and after,” says Levitt. “Define your market philosophy.”
Clients need to know you are there when they need you — and even when they don’t. But during downturns and their aftermath, visibility is paramount. “It’s about sharing. It’s about being proactive,” says Hornberger. “Reach out. Communicate early and often. Reassurance is central to this process.”
In situations such as market downturns, when you may be concerned that clients may blame you for poor performance, there’s a natural tendency to be guarded. “Our first instinct is often to defend,” says Levitt. “Our recommendation is to step back. Ask the client what concerns them; then you can offer solutions and advice.”
Stepping back can be hard, Levitt adds: “Clients can be confrontational. There is so much uncertainty, and it is not just financial.”
Clients aren’t the only ones who have anxious nights when the markets go in unwanted directions. You’re adversely affected in two significant ways. First, you’re worrying about your clients and their concerns. Second, you’re worried about your own business in both the short and long terms. Frightened clients can go elsewhere or exit the investment market altogether.
You also must focus on yourself when the going gets rough. “You need to take care of yourself. Meditate, exercise, get out in nature,” says Levitt. “You need to handle the stress and not get sick.”
You can feel better knowing you’ve laid a solid foundation for whatever crisis — natural disaster, market crash or pandemic — clients are in the midst of weathering. Indeed, your coaching role begins before there is anything to worry about, says Hartman: “The key to mitigating concern in market downturns is to prepare clients ahead of time for the inevitability that markets will likely be volatile during the time [clients] are invested.”
Hartman suggests you make a point of talking with your clients about the ups and downs of market performance during every annual review: “This should include historical performance illustrations, magnitude of decline [and] recovery periods.”
Managing clients’ expectations is essential, agrees Levitt: “Everyone will see a slowdown. Before anything happens, you should be talking to your clients about downturns.”
It is important to ensure you have a current market meltdown plan in place, Levitt notes: “This does not have to be complicated. If something happens, how can you be ready to reach out and to whom do you reach out personally? This is not a case of sending out just one email.”
Your meltdown plan will contain such information as which clients need to be on speed-dial for reassurance and which clients like to buy during a downturn. Your plan also will contain draft emails and templates that can be sent quickly to all or certain clients with little revision. Where appropriate, the information can reaffirm that there is insurance in place and/or a rainy-day fund.
“Emphasize [to] clients [that they] are working toward a goal — not reacting to market downturns,” stresses Levitt.
Post-crisis is an ideal time to update your plan: review what worked well, what worked as planned and what needs to be revised and rethought. As a crisis wanes, it also is an optimal time for you to identify gaps in your market meltdown plan and ensure those gaps are addressed for next time — because there will be a next time.
Your updated plan also must spell out how you will connect with clients, and continue to connect with them if you can no longer get to your office, if power service is more than sporadically interrupted or if concerned clients cannot meet with you face to face — perhaps because much of the community has been shuttered. Literally.
Technology: Making It Work With What You've Got and When To Upgrade
A few years ago, an advisor told me that I was really good at helping his team leverage the technology in their office. In fact, he took a business card and on the back, penned the title of a book I should write, and I have kept it with me all these years. The title? "How to Make it Work With What You've Got" - 300,000 copies sold by Emily Bennett!
It is a reminder of how I approach technology in the office; you need enough of it to simplify the tasks and keep you compliant, but it should not be the ultimate driver. Having a solid foundational understanding of technology should be the goal. And, once technology fails to meet your needs and goals, it’s time to re-assess how you’re utilizing it in your every day.
I recently read the Top Technology Predictions for 2020 by World Economic Forum. The prediction that most resonated with me was “learning on the job will never stop.” Cloud technologies make it convenient and simple to stay current and to keep that learning momentum; however, most advisor practices fail to determine how technology can be applied and work FOR their business. Server and database technologies require regular upgrades to stay current and avoid any potential security issues. Still, it can be overwhelming to dedicate the time and headspace to keep on top of it. That brings us full circle in, ultimately, technology isn’t helpful if misused or fails to meet your needs and goals.
To understand your current situation, ask these questions:
1. Is your technology compliant? Consider that older servers, systems, and mobile devices run the risk of being non-compliant from a security perspective.
2. Does everyone have the right access to technology where they work?
3. Are you duplicating effort? For example, do you often copy and paste between applications or emails?
4. Are you able to produce reports, dashboards, or analytics in real-time to see how well client services are performing or to identify client opportunities?
5. How is technology part of every transaction with your clients? Are you interacting with your clients the way they want? Does everyone in the office have the ability to enter information about client interactions? Are these notes retrievable by those who need access? Are you reaching out to your clients enough? Too much?
The responses to these questions can help you determine if you need to upgrade your systems or make better use of the technology you have implemented in your office. A more detailed assessment can help find the gaps and build a plan to achieve your technical goals to make the most with what you’ve got.
Having spent over 30 years in the financial services industry, I have found two things to be true; everything and nothing has changed with the day-to-day challenges advisors face.
Everything has changed with technology and moving from paper to electronic, regulatory requirements, fee disclosure, anti-spam requirements, the amount of back-end support, medical underwriting, saturated marketplace and competition, and the list goes on.
Nothing has changed with one simple fact; advisors need support to survive and thrive.
I’ve always enjoyed working with financial advisors. My most satisfying experiences have come from helping advisors turn their businesses from struggling to thriving. Being an advisor can be a lonely business, and often the piece of the puzzle that’s missing is having someone in your corner.
Since joining The Personal coach last Spring, I’ve been implementing practice management strategies into advisors’ businesses. It’s also been a privilege to be featured in Forum Magazine discussing COI relationships, representing the team at Advocis meetings, and addressing closed audience sessions with Faith Life Financial. Coming up next is sharing insights on understanding your finances at our Fall TPC GeneratorTM event.
Having The Personal Coach’s support to pursue my adventure is motivating and exciting. Most importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of an incredible team that leaves no stone unturned with the depth and breadth of their expertise. The Personal Coach has fantastic resources; HR support, team development, succession planning, marketing, and branding. As a team, we provide full-spectrum support for advisors. We often refer to ourselves as an extension of an advisor’s team. It’s rare to find a support team that has so many arrows in the quiver. This allows me to start each day with enthusiasm to help advisors find their way and fully develop their businesses and enjoy the fruits of their labours. I believe strongly that success in business is more likely to be achieved and, more importantly - savoured if it’s integrated with a fulfilling personal life. When we work together and clear out the clutter, we achieve success.
Our office has been working with Pat Giesbrecht for the past six months, and I am so happy with the results we are getting. We have completed many projects; DISC profiles, re-segmentation, written procedures, Contact Management changes, new technology implemented, job descriptions reviewed and solidified, the opportunity for all to share our progress, challenges, and successes. The best part is the teamwork this has inspired, the sharing, the helping and overall coming together for a common goal. It’s been far more comfortable for us to share the workload when our goals were clear. The staff took much of it on, were accountable, and excited about the changes.
Finishing The Year Strong. It's Not Too Late To Amplify Results!
It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of September and the end of the third business quarter as well. A common theme for September is that it offers a fresh perspective - or a “new year”. Everyone is back from summer holidays, the kids are back to school, and it’s time to reflect on how the year has gone, and how you want it to end.
So, how are you doing? This question can be daunting for most advisors to answer because, even if one aspect of your business is thriving, there could be other factors that are demanding your attention and pulling you away from your preferred focus. Also, if we’re frank, most advisors don’t spend enough time working on their business to develop systems for a routine review and to strategize for the future. This realization means you are not equipped to overcome unexpected challenges causing business growth to stall. It can also lead to frustration, stress, and stagnation. Look at the visual below and apply it to your business. Where are you on the S-curve? If you are reaching a breaking point, it could be time to implement something different that will burst you through that ceiling and start you on a new S-curve.
Wait, where’s the “Staples button” because if only it were that easy. When you hire someone new or install new technology or change a process, you trust that it will make a difference. However, it may be little more than a leap of faith unless you accompany it with talent, procedures, or coaching to support the leap to the next growth curve.
So what can be done right now to end the year on a high note? At this late stage, less is more. The best course of action is to reflect on the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Are there any that you identified as integral to the success of the business that are still incomplete? What are your team’s views? Have they identified any items that require your immediate attention? Now is the time to narrow your focus to the critical elements of your original plan. Pick one or two top priorities and implement the necessary changes. Moreover, remember that effective collaboration produces results that are greater than each individual’s contribution. This rule applies to whether you build your team internally or create a virtual team of external resources. There is still time to amplify your results for 2019.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Are you looking to grow your business? Save the date for our Generator Event! Tuesday November 26, 2019
If you want to grow your advisory business, get this date in your calendar!
Tuesday November 26, 2019, Cambridge, ON.
This TPC event is for advisors looking to grow their business, double their revenues and achieve time and money freedom. Full event details and sign up information here: www.tpcgenerator.ca.
Alison Ottewell is helping advisors to connect and have an online presence.
Digital shouldn't be daunting! Creating a digital Marketing Strategy that works with your business is realistic and achievable. Engaging videos, compelling blogs and Social Media success is within your reach. Connect with Alison today at email@example.com.
Every once in a while, thankfully not that often, we get a stark reminder of the one factor that is so very critical to building a sustainable advisory practice: TRUST. It is fundamental to client acquisition and developing those clients into positive long-term relationships. Our view, of course, is that trust has to be “table stakes” as you build and manage your practice and that it is a currency to be fiercely guarded by yourself, your organization, and your suppliers.
In his book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey offers many great thoughts about trust that might serve as food for thought on the topic.
First, the reality is that where trust is high, it increases speed and lowers cost. Where trust is low, it reduces speed and increases the cost. For an advisory practice, that often means ensuring that you have the right people in the right roles working with strong knowledge and well-developed practices and procedures.
That trusted formula is: (Strategy x Execution) x Trust = Results
The element of trust can be a tax or a dividend and, clearly, distrust has a cost attached to it. If your team members, or yourself, don’t trust your knowledge, your processes, or each other, the cost can be high.
It’s worth saying that self-trust is a crucial factor; if you don’t trust you, why would anyone else?
As you think about this topic, keep in mind that there are four critical elements to trust:
1. Integrity: Be honest, stand by your principles, and do what you say you’ll do. Increasing integrity starts with making and keeping commitments to yourself, standing for something, and being open.
2. Intent: Have good, positive motives. Let those motives inform and populate your agenda and ultimately, your behavior. You can continuously examine and adjust your motives and declare your intent.
3. Capabilities: Develop knowledge and abilities that evoke confidence and keep learning! Covey suggests that we use the acronym TASKS (Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, Style) as we think about capabilities. Always be working on your TASKS. Increase your capabilities by running with your strengths, keeping yourself relevant, and knowing where you’re going.
4. Results: Establish a track record. Results are an indicator of how well you are doing in the other vital areas and you can think of them as the fruits of your efforts. They can also give you credibility. So, take responsibility for your results, expect to win and finish strong.
There is much more to the trust conversation but it all starts with ourselves. Looking inwards before pointing fingers elsewhere can often set the tone for making positive impacts.
At The Personal Coach, we utilize our Velocity IndicatorTM as an exercise for self-assessment on your business practice. We couple that with a Complimentary Consultation which confirms and clarifies some of your thinking and potential next steps. We believe that the advisory business can be a very lonely one when it comes to managing and leading your practice and it is beneficial for you to have a sounding board and another set of eyes and ears to help you set your course.
To learn more about your business and where you fall on the trust scale, request our Velocity IndicatorTM exercise by connecting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Amlin is helping teams address gaps in their processes and workflow.
Our Operations and Efficiencies Coach, Heather, has created a Back Office Checklist to identify the gaps in advisor team processes and workflow. Heather has divided the Checklist into 3 key areas; Technology, Office Procedures and Client Services. When is the last time you reviewed your own processes? The timing could be perfect to finish the year strong. Book your back office assessment with Heather today!
Welcoming our newest team member.
The Personal Coach team has grown again! Our Marketing Specialist, Kelly Maxwell, delivered a beautiful boy this month. Welcome to the world Parker Michael Maxwell and congratulations to Kelly, Paul and big sister Aubrey.
Are you looking to grow your business? Save the date for our Generator Event! Tuesday November 26, 2019
This TPC event is for advisors who are looking to grow their business, double their revenues, and achieve time and money freedom. For full event details and registration information, visit www.tpcgenerator.ca.
Want to Stand Out in a Crowded Market? Maybe it's Time for a Brand Strategy.
Now that summer is here, you may have some extra time to review your brand and see if any enhancements could be made. Do you think your brand communicates what makes your business unique?
Remember, you want to be your clients' and prospects' only choice. A unique brand that encompasses your business values and the overall client experience helps to ensure that your messaging will set you a part from the rest.
As we have always said at The Personal Coach, branding is much more than simply your marketing materials. It is integrated into every aspect of your business and affects how you communicate and do business. It helps you maintain a consistent message, strong reputation and gives people a good understanding of what they can expect when working with you.
You can however, do a preliminary review of the quality of your brand by going over your marketing materials or "TouchPoints."
1. Business name - your business name should be interesting and communicate what you provide in an intriguing way, leaving people wanting to ask more questions.
2. Slogan - do you have a catchphrase and if so, is it memorable?
3. Descriptor - this should clearly state what your business provides and for you?
4. Logo - this symbol should connect the message between your name, slogan and descriptor as well as spark interest through imagery.
5. Stationery - does the font, design and layout align with your brand message?
6. Greeting - answering the phone, meeting face-to-face and email communications, do your client interactions exemplify your business values and are they consistent across the team?
7. Website - Does the design match your brand? Is the text clean and concise with a strong call to action? Do you feel proud to show people your website?
Enhancing just a few of these items can make a big difference in your overall brand. If you find you don't have a brand or your brand isn't consistent across marketing materials, or doesn't truly feel aligned with what you and your business are all about, do not hesitate to reach out.
First, comes the brand identity and then comes marketing materials you can be proud of! To learn more, let's pencil you in with our Brand Coach, Fortunato Restagno. Happy Planning!
Fortunato Restagno., Brand Coach
T: 519-576-2262 X4
If you want to grow your advisory business, mark our workshop date in your calendar!
Tuesday November 26, 2019, Cambridge ON
This TPC event is for advisors looking to grow their business, double their revenues and achieve time and money freedom. Full event details and sign up information can be found here: www.tpcgenerator.ca.
Kim Poulin is helping teams, of all sizes in all industries, empower their people to engage, connect, and thrive in the workplace.
Start your organization on the path to personalized insight and cultural change today. Join us in our belief that an organization’s true potential lies within its people. Learn more details about building your team effectiveness and productivity at the website: kimpoulin.com.
Welcome Sue Block, Administrative Assistant
We are excited to have Sue join The Personal Coach team. Sue has valuable industry experience including time at both Manulife Financial and Arca Financial Group. Having worked with several of our team members in her prior roles, we know firsthand the professionalism and quality of work that Sue brings to the table. We look forward to her supporting our team and our clients.
Welcome Alison Ottewell, Marketing Coach
Alison joined our team backed by 10 years of marketing experience - 8 of those focused in the financial services industry. Alison has the skills to build a tailored and impactful marketing strategy that will work for advisors. She has helped advisors coast to coast build marketing strategies that are clear, realistic and work with their team’s capacity and budget. We are happy to have Alison on board.
Bridging the communication between advisors and their support staff.
Monday, June 17, 2019
Heather Amlin, Operations & Efficiencies Coach
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started with The Personal Coach. Since starting, I have felt blessed to be able to take the time I needed to figure out how to use my “unique abilities” (cue Art Schooley’s voice inside my head) so I can best help guide advisors and their teams. I also have Fortunato Restagno to thank. He speaks to his branding clients about their compelling story which inspired me to discover my compelling story.
I spent many years in the financial services business as a Marketing and Operations Assistant in the trenches. Subsequently, I was a co-business owner of an advisory firm who purchased 2 other advisory firms. Finally, I became an ex-business owner transitioning clients and myself into a new role with our merger. You can imagine the many hats that needed to be worn for the merger to go smoothly.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenges of each role. I have especially loved the fact that each role has given me an opportunity to create processes, procedures and work with advisory support teams. It’s something I am passionate about and I enjoy bridging the communication between advisors and their support staff. With that being said, I’ve decided to focus my coaching on developing better operations and efficiencies with advisory teams.
I know first-hand the challenges an advisor has to deal with. It can be challenging to find time to listen to your support staff without distractions. If both the advisor and the staff member(s) are receiving calls, emails and texts, when do you find the time to get ready for meetings, process paperwork, keep an organized office AND create processes and procedures so that things run smoothly? Every advisory firm is unique and different - from the advisor doing it all themselves to the offices with 2-3 advisors and a support team for each. No matter the size, you still need to have processes and procedures in place. Every person in the office should know what those are, even if they don’t have to use each one.
I use a back-office checklist, which focuses on technology, administration, client services, and investment and insurance procedures. Reviewing this with advisory teams has led to great discussions around weaknesses in existing processes and identifying where there are no processes at all. We also review strengths and affirm the areas that are running smoothly.
As I embark on my second year with TPC, I’ve expanded this process to include the integration of new employees into an advisor’s office. We call it the Coaching for Integration Success Program. One of the challenges of working in small/medium team environments is how to set your new employees up for success as you try to train them in the many areas of your busy office. Having a clear agenda for their first day, their first week, and their first quarter is a great step! So, I keep Kim Poulin’s motto in mind and off I go….”Hire for attitude, train for skill.”
Are you an advisor who sees the value in podcasts? Are you wondering if creating podcasts is worth your time and effort? Podcasts are an inexpensive way to position your business and add value.
For the technically disinclined, a podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video, which a user can download to listen to. If you are already creating content for a newsletter or e-campaign, or have hired The Personal Coach to create content for you, why not summarize your written communications in a podcast.
Consider this before doing so:
Check your dealer’s compliance regulations. Some may have specific guidelines and others may not allow it.
2. Ideal Client
Will a podcast be valued and listened to by your ideal clients? Age, region, occupation and psychographics play a major part in what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your marketing strategies.
3. Hire a Social Media Expert
You may wish to hire a social media expert who has the ability to effectively share your podcast with your network. Send your podcast to your clients, centres of influence and prospects.
4. Compelling and Engaging Content
Your podcast should be educational and help position you as the expert. Avoid bragging or directly selling your services. Any tips or ideas you share should be followed with a sample client story that will resonate with listeners.
5. Other Tips
Have a catchy intro piece with music. Use your slogan if you have one. Use a novel strategy - create curiosity, develop your characters, have a climax and a memorable ending. Make sure your microphone is clear.
Our Coaches, Kim and Heather, have been working away on further developing our hiring and integration programs offered to advisors and their teams. Hiring a team member can be a long and onerous task, especially without guidance or experience. We have discovered that many advisors prefer someone else handling certain aspects of the process – and often, the entire process. Our hiring programs allow you to continue to focus on what you do best and delegate the hiring to us. We become an extension of your team - your human resources and hiring team!
Key elements of the coaching process include, attracting, hiring, retaining and compensating the right team members; understanding each team member’s competencies, skills and responsibilities; having each person in the right role and building team effectiveness, efficiency and cohesiveness.
Services available include:
Identifying the candidate pool
Narrowing the candidate pool
Due diligence – screening final candidates
We also have a Coaching for Integration Success Program that will help you hit the ground running from day one with your new hire. Your customized program includes the following:
A copy of the Right Fit II Booklet - Integration and Development of a New Team Member
A customized agenda to follow for your employee’s first day and their first week
A comprehensive training checklist with a focus on the first 3 months of your employee’s development
On-site training the first day followed by video conference/phone and email consultation with the advisor, training team and the new employee, as required
Failure to hire right can be very expensive and time consuming. To learn more about these exciting services and how to hire and integrate an exceptional team member, please connect at email@example.com.