The time is ripe for female advisers looking for a change

Change can be hard, so women should think about what their 'best business life' would be

Nov 20, 2016 @ 12:01 am

By Mindy Diamond

The headlines keep reminding firms: Hire women advisers. And with a lot of good reason behind them.

Of course, it's politically correct to do so and satisfies a diversity initiative. From a business growth perspective, studies have shown that women clients prefer to work with female advisers. And it's always a public relations bonanza to hire women.

While women may be reading this and cringing, truth be told, these statements represent the world we work in. As a woman — and having worked with many of the industry's leading firms and top female advisers — I've heard the story from both sides of the table.

The reality is that these sentiments, coupled with a greatly expanded landscape, spell opportunity for those female advisers who are looking to change firms or business models.

However, women tend to be more risk-averse than our male counterparts; it usually takes quite a bit more pain to make us choose to leave behind what's familiar and comfortable. But once that pain threshold is reached, we will typically want to rip off the proverbial Band-Aid and move through the decision-making process pretty quickly. And this is a critical time to ensure that we have clearly identified what it is we are trying to achieve in making a change.

Advisers usually switch firms or models when they are seeking to resolve frustrations they are feeling — too much bureaucracy, a desire for more control, lack of support and a change in culture typically top the list. Yet many others are seeking to flex their entrepreneurial muscles and build their business with the highest level of freedom, flexibility and control.

CONCERNS ABOUT A MOVE

The reality is that change isn't easy. Besides the emotional component, there are a host of concerns about an actual move that plague advisers — male or female.

Will my clients come with me?

Will the new firm actually be better than where I am now?

Will I really be able to solve my frustrations?

Is the deal going to be good enough to justify all of the disruption that comes with a move?

Will this change really move me closer to living my best business life?

Truth be told, considering change often brings up more questions than answers. And I've written as well as spoken publicly about what I call “living your best business life” — that is, finding the nexus between where you are now and where you want to be.

(Related read: 2016 InvestmentNews Women to Watch)

But most advisers don't get to that point without a few stops along the way because they lack clarity; their vision of what might be a more perfect scenario is clouded by frustration and confusion. Typically when advisers start to recognize the imperfections of their current jobs, three things happen:

1. They spring into action. Many begin looking for ways to improve their job and, when that doesn't work, they begin to evaluate the landscape, spinning their wheels, sorting through a dizzying array of options in an ever-changing landscape. They ask friends, they read headlines and hear about uber-sized payouts, then …

2. They settle in. This stage can go two ways: Some advisers decide it isn't so bad where they are and simply choose to stay put. This isn't a bad thing at all; it means that from a position of strength, they have compared where they are against what's available elsewhere and decided that inaction is the best strategy for now, until …

3. They hit their pain threshold. This is when waiting for what might be a more perfect opportunity is no longer an option, and the motivation to move is driving the mindset.

Unfortunately, many in an untenable situation get “stuck” at stage two, choosing to do nothing, settling for a situation that they recognize can't be further from perfect. Staying stuck is a sad choice, in my opinion, but one that can be avoided by gaining some clarity.

In order to define what clearly matters most to you, I recommend making three lists that answer the following:

What are the things you want to change about your current work life?

How much are your frustrations impacting your life, work, clients and overall business?

What would you hope to achieve by making a move? That is, what are your long- and short-term goals?

While these questions may seem simple, you'd be surprised how many advisers never start here. The power of these lists rests in the fact that they allow you to prioritize what's most important and what's most frustrating — only then can you pinpoint the difference between what you must have, what is just nice to have and what you're willing to be flexible on.

(Related read: Firms must look for female advisers in unusual occupations)

Once you can identify the delta between the must-haves and the nice-to-haves, you need to assess what changes you're willing to make in order to bridge the gap. It's all about determining if there are options available that might better align with your specific needs, goals and desires. In that nexus is where you'll find your best business life.

Truly understanding what you want is the key to finding — and living — your best business life. So take the time to do your due diligence; explore not only the opportunities in the landscape but also your own goals and desires. And then you can free yourself of the limitations and frustrations that have been restricting you and move toward your new chapter with clarity and confidence.

Mindy Diamond is president and CEO of Diamond Consultants Inc.

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