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Human Behavior

You Know Something Is Wrong – But What Is It?


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The fun of the financial advisory business is that everything changes. No matter whether the markets go up or go down, each new day brings with it a set of new challenges and concerns for advisors. Quite often, something doesn’t feel “right” or “easy” in the business.

Although bringing in an outsider to perform a thorough assessment is a pragmatic solution, many advisors don’t want to or can’t afford expensive consulting services. Moreover, ofttimes consulting resources have “you should do this” ideas that do not cater to the specific requirements of a firm or its employees.

What should an advisor do then? A self-assessment process can help identify what works and doesn’t work for a firm, in addition to honing the “right problem”. To self assess, advisors should:

  •  Have no “agenda” or preconceived ideas about what might be wrong.
  • Be open to talk to everyone, including admin staff, vendors and past employees, who may have firm insights.
  • Remember, whatever may be happening isn’t necessarily about YOU. Be flexible enough to consider all your options.

The following are the steps you can undertake individually or with your partners to ascertain problematic areas:

Interview Stakeholders

Interview everyone who is associated with the firm, including current and former employees, senior management, vendors, clients and prospects. Ask for their feedback on the firm and what they think isn’t working. Although time consuming, qualitative interviews provide in-depth, valuable information and should be your means to get feedback.

Perform an Audit

Perform an audit as if you were a client of the firm. Put yourself in their shoes and document each step to onboarding, receiving service etc. This will help you determine if your firm is really meeting client expectations that YOU would have if you were a client.

Review Firm Culture

Closely review your organizational culture. Are your operations and technology meeting their desired objectives? Do meetings run on time? Is your staff upbeat or demotivated? Review all the individual components.

Organizational Structure

Assess the structure of your advisory firm.  Are the right people placed in the right roles? With the growth of an advisor firm, it is pivotal to have expertise in key areas, such as operations and technology, so the investment staff and portfolio managers can focus on investing and making the firm’s assets grow.

Daily Activities

Analyze your firm’s day-to-day activities. Review how you spend your day and what are you accomplishing. Are you investing your time in the highest return on investment activities? If not then find someone else who can take on your small tasks for you to focus on the highest gain activities. Conduct a time assessment by keeping track of each 5 minutes of your day.

After implementing these steps, you will know where your difficulties are and then you will be able to develop an effective implementation plan with accountabilities. To read more about self-assessment by financial advisors, click here.

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