For newer advisers, one of the biggest hurdles I see out there is a lack of self-confidence. And that's a problem, because if you lack confidence in your ability to deliver, your client will, too.
That's right, success and self-confidence have been found to go hand in hand in almost every major study in the area. Dr. Albert Bandura, a psychologist at Stanford University, did one of my favorite studies on why self-confidence is so important. It determines how we feel, think, motivate ourselves and, ultimately, behave. It helps you overcome failure, recover from setbacks faster, reduce stress and maximize your capabilities to achieve goals.
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How can you increase your self-confidence and, in turn, become a better adviser for your clients? Here are three ways to do it:
1. Get a coach
I used to coach swimming and loved it. Being a coach is about two things.
1. Connecting with individuals in unique ways. Every swimmer I coached – and I coached hundreds – learned differently. As a coach, I always tried to find different ways to connect with people.
2. Instilling confidence in the person so they can achieve their desired outcome. My swimmers' desired outcomes varied. But by giving them the structure, process and support necessary, they could develop the self-confidence and belief that they could achieve their goals, whatever they were. It's always amazing seeing a young swimmer gain the confidence they need to take off.
Financial advisers can also benefit from working with a coach. A coach can provide an outside perspective that allows you to learn in new ways. Joining a coaching program also plugs you into a community so you can see how other advisers are successful. This can create a great deal of self-confidence because you realize if others have done it, so can you.
2. Get educated
I've been teaching in academia for about 10 years, first as a graduate assistant at the Villanova School of Business, then at The American College of Financial Services, and now at the Heider College of Business at Creighton University.
The students I've taught range from college students to professional designation students such as CFP or RICP all the way to Ph.D. students. Regardless of where the student came from or what they wanted to achieve, education and learning equipped the individual with new tools and knowledge. This enhanced knowledge base helps people feel confident and allows them to project confidence.
Part of this is just the halo effect of education. By going through a program, you get the halo effect of being part of The American College, Villanova or Creighton. The name brings you instant credibility, allowing you to feel confident about your knowledge.
For young advisers, the boost they received from earning the CFP, ChFC, RICP or CLU was amazing. By going through a financial service designation and education program, you learn more about your craft, get the halo effect of the institution's great history, and can represent yourself to clients and prospects as someone committed to your profession.
3. Be prepared
Being part of a community through coaching and getting the right education can help boost confidence. But at the end of the day, confidence comes down to preparation. Whether it's for a phone call with a client or prospect, an in-person meeting, designing a financial plan, or delivering a speech, preparation is key.
I give hundreds of hours of speeches each year and people often comment that I'm a natural speaker. I disagree. I project confidence because I know I'm prepared.
I think one of the best ways to become more prepared is to be laser-focused on your goal or desired outcome. Write down what your outcome is before any meeting, call, interview or speech. Too often I see advisers just show up and go through the motions. Be focused and prepared in your approach, and you'll project more confidence.
If you want to grow your practice and better serve your clients, you need to start by working on yourself. Only then are you prepared to offer your clients a great experience. If you don't have the self-confidence you need to do so, it will always be a hurdle in front of your success. There's no room for imposter syndrome speak if you're purposeful in your actions. You're good enough, you can do it and you will do it.
Jamie Hopkins is director of retirement research and vice president of private client services at Carson Group.