Know Where You’re Great and Delegate the Rest
Why do we try to do it all? You know your strengths and weaknesses but still push to the outer limits of your capabilities. You continually raise the bar until you fail in what I like to call the “pole vaulter’s mind set”. Unfortunately, this does not make for an ideal professional life and can lead to devastating mistakes that impact your clients and business. You need to know when you’ve deviated from your strengths and delegate appropriately.
Running a wealth planning business has three core areas of expertise:
Client relationships, branding/marketing, and closing business
Overall direction of the business and daily operations
During my career, I’ve spoken to many intelligent, talented, and successful RIAs and IARs. Oftentimes I hear that they’ve handled all three areas of expertise for decades and are resistant to any change that might interrupt their current process. Besides, if they’ve made a more than adequate living, why stop now?
The truth is, making money is an accomplishment but does not make one successful. Real success lies within and has much more to do with your legacy than your bank account. It’s about maximizing the best possible outcomes for each client, managing employees that share your passion to serve others, and positively influencing your clients’ and employees’ lives. He who has the most toys does not win, they just have more possessions.
For many advisors, the ability to brand/market yourself, close business, and manage client relationships comes naturally. I expect that most of the professionals reading this blog have this gift and should be proud of it. Stay in this great zone and don’t change a thing.
Some of you feel you can manage client assets just as well. Like anything else, it takes a daily commitment to stay relevant in the markets and often requires that you obtain key designations such as a CFA. About a decade ago, this became very popular and many advisors opened Advisor as Portfolio Manager accounts to handle clients’ money on a discretionary advisory basis. Good returns came easy in the bull market but, when choppy markets came, performance lagged. When the bear market reared its head, the difficulties in defending positive performance became ubiquitous.
What is an advisor to do? To me, it’s simple. Pick a direction!
Focusing on one main aspect of your business does not mean you lack intellect. It may just mean that there is too much of a time and educational commitment to do everything. Think about how much time you spend running the business and keeping it relevant. From day to day business risks, regulatory risks, employee and client retention risk, competition awareness, finances, payroll, and so much more, it’s easy to fill day with essential tasks. Free up your time to be great for your clients in the best ways possible.
This blog is not here to say that you can’t do it all but, that you probably shouldn’t do it all.
A common reason why businesses don’t maximize success is a lack of delegation. Usually, this stems from the fear that no one can do it as well as you. Initially, you might have been be right. However, over the long run, good employees become great by expanding their skill set which ultimately strengthens your business. You hired good people, give them the freedom to do what they’re great at and reach their full potential.
Advisors who can “do it all” do exist but it’s very uncommon. I recommend that you take a hard look at your investments and consider using outside money managers with models that focus on asset allocation, wealth preservation, and market/behavioral risk profiles. Instead of trying to do it all yourself, pick an investment firm that can help your clients and business.
Greatness comes in stages and will take time. Begin by looking at yourself and how best to utilize your own talents. Then, look for professionals that can champion other areas of your business.
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