Have you been a financial advisor for a few years (or more) and just felt like you never hit your groove? Or have you found that, while you used to be successful, the new era of technology and robo-advising has made what you do nearly obsolete? I know a lot of people in the financial advising industry who are struggling. They’re losing clients left and right and those clients who remain are falling more and more into the PITA category. Some are even getting out of the industry altogether because they think they can no longer succeed.
So is there some good news amidst all this bad? Of course there is. While there may be a lot of advisors who are struggling right now, there are also plenty who are enjoying unprecedented levels of success. What separates the two groups? Many times, it just a few changes to their business plan and some mindset tweaks. Yep, that’s it. If your financial advising business is struggling, here are some probable reasons why. (For more, see: Financial Advisor Tips for Talking to Clients.)
Your Clients Don’t See Your Value
When they can get the same financial planning services from an automated system as they can from their advisor, clients are going to justifiably question your value. Gone are the days where an advisor can bring value to their clients simply by helping them trade stocks or put money into their IRAs. These days, you need to show your clients a lot more (such as mentoring them and connecting them with other professionals) to be a valued part of their lives.
You Get Blamed for the Market
You know you have no control over what the market does and it’s likely that your clients know it as well. However, that won’t keep some of them for blaming you when their stock tanks or their portfolio takes a hit. When you don’t give added value to your clients, the focus tends to remain squarely on the money and the markets that you can’t control.
You Are Constantly Chasing Monetary Goals
Are you still working on a commission-based structure? Are you working for a big firm that inflates your sales goals each year so you’re constantly chasing that bonus? If so, you simply don’t have the right mindset to help your clients as you should. While they want to be listened to and understood, you are thinking about that next big goal you need to reach and how their money will help you get there.
You’ve Lost Passion for What You Do
PITAs, blame for the market, and the constant chasing of goals can easily suck all the passion out of your career. When you’ve lost the love for what you do, it shows. You may think you hide it well from your clients, but they’ll always know when you are no long excited about coming to work every day. We all know what it’s like to work with someone who doesn’t like what they do and it should come as no surprise that this will lead to the loss of business. (For more, see: Why Clients Fire Financial Advisors.)
What You Can Do to Make a Change
If you’re experiencing any of the above situations, don’t give up hope. You can still turn things around and renew the passion you once felt for your business. Here are some ways you can make a change.
Consider an advice-based business. If you’ve been working on a commission-based structure, this one change can make all the difference in the world. When you become an advice-based financial consultant, you can focus solely on your clients’ needs and stop worrying about chasing goals and increasing your commissions.
Focus on the client, not the money. Many advisors forget that we are not in the money business. We are in the people business. It’s our job to listen to our clients, to really hear what their goals and dreams are, and to find ways to help them get there. Yes, the money is the vehicle we often use, but it should never be the sole focus.
Study the soft sciences. Your clients look to you for advice, not just on money matters, but on a variety of different topics. When you study the soft sciences and learn more about human behavior, emotion and vulnerability, you can be a much better mentor to them. Not only does this increase your value in their eyes, but it also makes for a much more fulfilling career.
If your financial planning business is struggling, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to look for a new career. Sometimes all you need is to make a few changes and look at your business in a new light. When you become a mentor to your clients, deeply understand them and guide them toward a better future, then you've learned the ways of a financial caregiver. You've come to know what it means to be a true purveyor of advice, and how to use money as a conduit to a more fulfilling life for yourself and those you serve. (For more, see: Want to Be a Better Advisor? Think Like a Client.)