Customized One-on-One Business Coaching for Financial Advisors
Thursday, November 21, 2019
From a degree in Geology to a career as a Business Consultant later a Financial Advisor, Sandra Schmidt has always been a master of change. Now, she embraces her most recent endeavor - retirement.
A native of London, Ontario, Sandra describes her upbringing as akin to a Norman Rockwell painting. The third of four girls, Sandra, reflects on her childhood as warm and loving. Her father was an actuary with London Life and her mother, trained as a teacher, chose to be a stay-at-home mom, as did many of that generation. Attending church was a big part of Sandra’s childhood, given that her father was a soloist in the choir, and her mother ran the Sunday school. Mostly, Sandra recalls both parents always encouraging their daughters to find their passion, to do it well and to remember that in life, there are no limitations – you can do anything you choose.
Inspired by her parents’ words, after Sandra graduated from high school she followed her father’s example and attended university at Western. There she received her Bachelor’s degree in Geology. A short stint in the Arctic, however, convinced Sandra that spending over half of each year in remote locations wasn’t all that appealing. She decided that a business education might be a path to consider and returned to Western, this time as a student in the Business program. It is here she met the love of her life, Duff Schmidt,
who hailed from the Okanagan in British Columbia. By January of the following year, the couple knew wherever they would go; they would go together. When asked how they decided between British Columbia and Ontario, Sandra says, “Duff said he wanted to be where the skiing was, so
away we went to Vancouver!”
Almost directly out of school, Duff started with Mutual Life in the Estate and Financial Planning Services (EFPS) area. Sandra accompanied him to various corporate events and conventions, and it was there she began to notice the
opportunities available in the financial services industry. Through the years, Sandra continued to develop close relationships with management at the local branch of what is now Sun Life Financial, who would consistently tell her,
“When you get tired of what you’re doing, come and work for us.” Fast forward five years, Sandra knew it was time for a change and left her role in Strategic Planning consulting and in June 2000, her career as a Financial Advisor began.
Though a logical and natural transition, Sandra describes the first few years as an Advisor being “really tough.” Similar to what most advisors experience, Sandra also quickly exhausted her natural market. Prospecting was tough and, in need of people to talk to, she developed a game plan that was strategic and proactive. Scouring her Rolodex, Sandra approached individuals who were well-placed HR managers and could get her in the door for a 45-minute “workplace solutions” presentation. Attendance was high during these
sessions, and Sandra’s genuine approach and willingness to invest her time with clients resonated well and served as a foundation for her future success. At that time, the Financial Centre offered a mentorship program that paired new advisors with more tenured campaigners. It was during this program where Sandra met Al. Al not only served as Sandra’s mentor but soon became her friend and eventual business partner. In 2005, with the
partnership flourishing, they moved to a new location in downtown Vancouver.
In 2008, Al was approaching retirement and in the early stage of his succession plan, which included transitioning out of the individual business. Sandra had already been helping to service many of Al’s clients over the past several years; still, the formal transition was a significant change and Sandra felt that she needed some additional guidance and support. She reached out to a colleague who had been in a similar situation who referred her to The Personal Coach. Sandra says she has always treated her business like a business, but working with Juli Leith offered her a very different perspective on how best to organize, structure and manage her practice. This new relationship eventually led to an even higher level of success for Sandra. “Working with Juli ensured that I didn’t simply double how hard I worked just
because I had doubled my business” Sandra reflects. With her business bustling, ensuring her work-life balance became an even more significant challenge and necessity. At the end of each busy day, Sandra would come home, kick off her heels and sit on the floor in the kitchen and talk to her dog, Molly. “I would tell her all about my day - she won’t share my secrets.” Sandra’s business would continue to grow and flourish and the next 11 years flew by.
During the summers, Sandra and Duff would take some much-needed downtime to recharge their batteries. In 2017, Sandra found that she was growing increasingly less enthusiastic about returning to work. That’s when she knew it was time to start thinking about and planning for her succession strategy. Sandra’s daughter, Leigh, had worked for Sandra’s team as a summer student while studying business at the University of Victoria. Also, Leigh had covered a year of maternity leave for one of the staff. When asked if she would consider becoming an advisor, Leigh replied: “no thanks” – déjà vu from when Sandra was first asked! Leigh and her husband John followed their dreams and moved to New Zealand for two years for John to pursue a degree in winemaking. After returning to Canada, they settled in the Okanagan wine region, and Leigh decided the timing was right and pursued a career as a Sun Life Advisor. She has since taken on Sandra’s Okanagan clients as well as Lower Mainland clients Leigh was already supporting. The balance of her business transferred to colleagues whom Sandra had worked with for years. Citing as the vital element to choosing a successor, “We already had a great rapport, I knew who they were and what their values were. I knew my clients would receive the same level of integrity and respect
as I had shown them”. Sandra is so proud of Leigh and the Vancouver advisors. After her clients had moved to their respective new advisors, Sandra stayed on for three months to ensure it was a smooth transition. In May of 2019, Sandra officially retired. She has since run into former clients and receives emails and cards saying thank you for picking such great advisors to carry on the legacy.
Receiving accolades from her clients isn’t surprising. You only have to hear Sandra speak about her time as an advisor to understand how she cherished the relationships she built. She had several families where she serviced four generations! In her own words, Sandra shares, “It is such a privilege and
honor to participate in a small way in a family’s life – and with such an intimate topic. To be a steward is such an honor”. Reflecting on one family in particular, Sandra can’t help but become emotional. In 2004, the file of two clients was passed on to her - a husband and wife. Eventually, she gained the business of his mother, and then their children and grandchildren, too. One year, Sandra noticed a change with the wife; that she didn’t seem herself. It was then, when the client was in her early 50’s, that she received a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Amid this turmoil, it was comforting that the planning work done with Sandra allowed the husband to take his retirement early to care for his wife up until her passing. When asked what her guiding principle is, Sandra humbly shares, “you must have a solid sense of what is right and wrong. Be kind to one another and do the right thing. Show up when you’re supposed to show up and mostly, be the advisor you’d like to have”. What started as an attraction to business turned into a genuine love for people. “I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the clients. It was never about me; it was always about them”. For anyone thinking about becoming an advisor, Sandra shares the following sage advice “be prepared for the roller coaster. It’s not easy, and there are two tracks on the roller coaster; emotional and financial – they go hand in hand. Know what an honor it is. Clients will tell you things they won’t share with others; it’s all about trust”.
“What we do as advisors matters.”
Since May, Sandra has been enjoying every moment of retirement. She reflects, “I used to hear from retired people and they would tell me how busy they were, and I wondered, how can they be so busy? I don’t wonder that anymore!” With Duff also retiring in the Fall of 2018, their days are spent
enjoying the outdoors, loving time with their expanding family, reconnecting with friends, traveling and truly living in the present.
Sandra, on behalf of The Personal Coach, congratulations on a magnificent career and your retirement!
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights on how a team is using Everything DiSC® Workplace assessments to create business momentum
Do you believe one of your biggest assets if not the biggest, is your team? If you said yes, so do we which is why at The Personal Coach, we have a process in place to help teams grow stronger. We use Everything DiSC® profiles from Wiley, which are a personalized, specialized and in-depth analysis used to help individuals develop a broader understanding of themselves, their relationships with team members, explore their own potential and realize unparalleled success.
Everything DiSC® profiles help to develop critical business skills such as:
In a team building session, we discuss the results of the assessments and when needed, coach people one-on-one to assist with implementing the necessary behavioural changes. We recently received feedback from a valued client of ours who uses DiSC Workplace to manage their large team. Keep in mind that DiSC is for teams of all sizes. In their case, they have many team members with different personalities and profiles. So, they have benefited from understanding each other's personalities to best work with each team member.
Our client assigned one team member to be the DiSC® Team Leader to make sure that DiSC was not getting lost in the day-to-day to-dos and was remaining an important aspect of their business that they focused on regularly.
Here is what the DiSC® Team Leader shared with us:
THE IMPACT ON THE TEAM, As an organization, it’s the best thing we could’ve done. Since doing the DiSC® profiles for all the team members, we are much more aware and sensitive to each person’s unique communication and work style. We know that different people prefer, and need, different types of communication. We have incorporated DiSC® discussions into our staff meetings every month to make sure team communication and effectiveness remains top of mind for each team member. Since doing DiSC®, it has also motivated us to do even further research on communication styles and working with different styles. We use DiSC® profiles to facilitate better understanding between team members. Sometimes team members with different DiSC® styles can feel like they are not on the “same page” but having another person in the meeting who understands the different styles can help validate people’s feelings and their reactions to certain scenarios. On each employee’s door frame or work station, we have posted “How to Work with Me” so everyone can be reminded about how to work most effectively with their colleagues. The team is encouraged, on a yearly basis, to update this if anything changes in their preferences. We use terms like “Bring out your inner D” (dominance) or “pull it back when communicating with someone who is not a high D.” Not only does everyone know everyone else’s styles but they understand themselves better which only helps team and individual growth.
AS THE TEAM GROWS, Whenever we have a new staff member, we have them complete a DiSC® profile. I go through a detailed account of our initial introduction to DiSC, why we went through it and how it’s helped us to better work together and be a more cohesive team. Once the profile comes back, I discuss it with the new hire. Most people, when they get them back, are surprised at how precise the results are. I also order comparison reports for the new hire and for the people who will be working closely with them. It helps me to identify any issues that could potentially come up. It’s a proactive move so I can have conversations with existing staff prior to the new person starting work.
We are happy to see the benefits that our clients have realized from working with our coaches and Everything DiSC® profiles. If you are a business leader with a team, big or small, you will benefit from Everything DiSC® profiles combined with coaching.
You will discover:
what your priorities are at work
what you are motivated by
what stressors you likely have
what people will notice about you
what your limitations may be
what your communication needs are
Your team will:
have better communication
better understand one another
realize increased productivity
realize increased performance
improve the hiring process
leverage each member’s skills
Please reach out if you would like any further information.
If you have read the April e-newsletter "Smart Hiring," skip down to Step 4 to continue.
Hiring a team member can be a long and onerous task, especially without guidance. We have discovered that advisors prefer someone other than themselves to handle certain aspects of the hiring process – and often, the entire process. Here are 10 steps to consider when going it alone.
1. Clearly Define the Role
Ask yourself and your team what you want the person to accomplish in this role. What is the main raison d’être? Once you know the outcomes you want you can determine:
The three most critical functions to be performed;
The skills needed to perform those functions;
The three main strengths the employee must have.
Be in selling mode as you create the job posting.
2. Identify Sources for Attracting Candidates
Ideally, you would have a bank of contacts that you have been collecting from your and your team’s own personal observations. If you do not have one, you will need to look at these traditional options.
Online job boards such as Indeed, local sites such as bcworks and kwjobshop, as well as industry specific sites such as Advocis and the FPSC;
Word of mouth through colleagues, clients, friends, etc. Send out an e-mail blast;
Local college and university career centers;
Networking sites such as LinkedIn; and
Employment agency firms including The Personal Coach
Decide which of the above are within your time frame, budget and expertise.
3. Review the Resumes
This is a very time consuming step, so know your minimum requirements and scan for items that would add value to the role. Pay attention to the candidate’s experience, background, courses taken and qualifications. Check the grammar and find typos if any. Note any questions you would like to ask this candidate. Choose ten to twelve of the most likely candidates. Your goal is to conduct a series of interviews that will whittle the list down, eventually revealing the right person for the job.
4. Telephone Screen
This is where you discuss the most important aspects of the job and how their experience may fit. Ask:
Why are you interested in this job?
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10 on MS Office, organization skills, etc.
What experience do you have in the financial services industry?
What do you excel at?
What would you not want to do in your next role
Once you have chosen the six to eight candidates you want to interview, bring them in for the first of two face-to-face interviews.
5. Conduct a Structured Interview Day
Book a day specifically for interviews. Plan to spend 30 - 45 minutes with each person and allow time between interviews to debrief with your team.
Break the interview into three parts:
Data - have them walk you through their education and career path from the beginning so that you can see how it has evolved. Ask what they were hired to do; were they successful and were they promoted, recruited or fired?
Important attributes that are not indicated on the resume - organization, accuracy, neatness and loyalty, for example.
Personality and socialization - get to know the real person.
Discuss with your team or a colleague and pick the top three candidates. Ask yourself the following questions about each person you interviewed:
Will this person fit the company’s culture? (You will need to know in advance what the key adjectives are that describe your culture).
Does he or she have the strengths required?
Why do I think this would be the right person?
7. The Second Interview
Ask candidates to bring in past performance reviews and references. If you have a skills test, this is the time to run it.
Understand what is important to the candidate when it comes to the work environment. This may include compensation, flexibility and benefits. You want to know the candidate’s expectations about what you are going to provide as an employer. Then you have to decide if it fits your game plan.
The underlying philosophy of multiple interviews is, if you still like the person as much after the second meeting as you did after the first, chances are you’ve found the perfect fit.
8. Reference Checks
Do not skip doing the reference checks. Call previous employers and ask questions about:
Duties performed and compensation received;
What the candidate could have improved back then;
Whether they would hire the person again or not; and
Why the candidate left the organization.
As in step 6, discuss your options with someone whose input you value. Who do you think has the best chance at succeeding in the role and on the team? Be as concerned with the fit for the candidate as you are in the fit for you.
10. Negotiate Compensation & Make An Offer of Employment
Balance what you can offer as an employer against the candidate’s flexibility and skills. Be sure to put a formal offer of employment in place, including:
Specific responsibilities of the position;
Required work hours;
Any holidays, vacations, special considerations;
Any additional expenses you will cover (e.g., training, licenses etc.);
Any expectations regarding changes or growth within the job.
Good luck with your hiring and if you would like to talk to a coach, please connect!