Outside voices and views for advisers

3 ways financial advisers can get ahead in 2017

If you surround yourself with people who are better than you, you'll begin to become better yourself

Jan 27, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

By Shawn Sparks

Everyone's familiar with the famous Isaac Newton quote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

However, not many of us actually take his words as sound advice.

Too many of us opt to rely on our own experiences and gumption rather than trying to learn from the experiences of others. Financial advisers are no different. In an age where there are numerous resources at our fingertips, there's no excuse not to take advantage.

But people are afraid to ask for help. It's sad, but true. So, instead of leveraging additional points of knowledge, many advisers choose instead to remain blissfully in the dark. However, the advisers who can overcome their own insecurities and ask questions differentiate themselves and soar ahead of the rest.

Advisers need to tap into today's resources to stay innovative. In today's changing financial services sector, it's more important than ever to remain ahead of the curve.

Think about it: Would you rather spend 30 years learning your trade or spend one year dedicated to learning from three people who each have 30 years of experience in your trade? You can effectively borrow 90 years of experience while you build some experience of your own. This is the key to catapulting your success well beyond your years.

To help, I've outlined the top three things you need to do as an adviser to stay ahead.

1. Find a mentor or coach.

A mentor or a coach is someone who can provide you with wisdom. When you're about to make a business or personal decision, you can consult this person and ask for their advice. If they're a successful role model in your life, chances are they've encountered a very similar situation in the past.

Further, a mentor or a coach can act as a sounding board and let you straighten out your own thoughts. In fact, many advisers I work with have shown me time and again that, above everything else, they really want someone they can bounce ideas off of.

Finding a mentor or coach in 2017 could be the key difference in your business. It'll help you borrow experience in a one-on-one environment where you can ask questions and test your line of thinking.

2. Read a valuable book.

Stated previously, there are resources everywhere for advisers. And each of these resources helps solve a very specific problem. For an adviser who operates in a complicated industry, the problems can be immense and the resources must be equally encompassing.

When you're faced with a business deficiency, you can approach it one of two ways. You can either look at it as a massive failure and hope it gets better or you can look at it as an opportunity to realize even more success. If you choose to take the latter, you should consider finding and learning from a great book that addresses the problem you're facing.

Understand the issue, find literature that addresses the underlying causes and get your mind thinking about new solutions.

An author spends years — or even a lifetime — compiling the knowledge needed to write about a topic with authority. They poured their entire experience, knowledge and understanding of a subject into a bound book for you to read and better understand.

What's unique about learning from books is that you often don't find the exact answer you were looking for. However, reading about someone's past experiences helps you focus on a topic that fuels your own creativity so that you can come up with a unique solution specific to your business.

3. Join a peer group.

Harvard professor David McClelland conducted a 25-year study and found that the single biggest factor for personal success is a person's reference group.

Have you heard the quote from American entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? Well, the same principle applies here. The group you surround yourself with has a huge impact on the person you become.

This means you should surround yourself with motivated people who are driven to succeed. You must interact with like-minded people as well as with people who will challenge you to evolve and grow.

I once asked my top adviser where his success came from, and he told me that it was all about his peer group. He told me he surrounds himself with people who are more successful than he is so he can learn and become more successful himself. To run a sound business, he said, you need to surround yourself with sound business people and entrepreneurs.

Your peer group acts as your support system and helps you achieve all you want out of life and business. If you surround yourself with people who are better than you, before long, you'll begin to become better yourself.

Experience is the best teacher, sure. However, we don't have to gain experience the hard way. Instead, tap into the limitless resources available today and accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

Shawn Sparks is vice president of adviser development at Advisors Excel. He is the author of the book, “The Advisor Breakthrough,” and weekly blog, 52 Sparks.


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