Sterling Shea, managing director of advisor and wealth management programs at Barron's, shared five valuable best practices that he sees consistent in those that they rank as top advisors at IMCA's annual conference.

1. Client selection - Shea said, "More process around identifying the right client builds efficiency within your practice."  He believes that understanding what service experience is needed will help keep clients happy.  "Learn from your clients and deliver a consistent client experience," said Shea.  To do this he suggested picking the three best clients and asking their advice.

2. Team focus - Shea stated, "An advisor's time is squeezed like it hasn't been before."  He explained that it is a more complex market today and that is one reason why more advisors are taking time away from clients to do other things.  Shea thinks that longer-term success is based on the degrees one can create team efficiencies (as opposed to trying to do it all by oneself.)  

Shea advised, "Hire people to help achieve the vision."  Related to focusing on team roles, he added, "Just showing your team that you are willing to invest in their growth and development can profoundly motivate them."  

Shea said, "Now is the time to grow your team.  There is great talent in this market."  There might be significant opportunities to incorporate the right professionals.

On a side note, Shea thought that effectively using a robust contact management system was also a factor in a team's success.

3. Self awareness - Advisors need to realize they should take a different approach than that which has been engrained in them.  Shea admitted, "Advisors can't be everything to everyone."  

He also suggested, "Learn from clients you didn't acquire."  He told a story of how one advisor said 'I called back every beauty contest I didn't win' and how that information helped make him more successful.

Shea also believes in cross mentoring, suggesting, "Do it by age.  For example, a 50 year old might get a 25 year old mentor to learn things like technology."

4. Multi-generational focus - Shea made it clear that there will be a huge potential for advisors in the coming years and they need to get ahead of the curve.  He said, "It is going to be the largest trans-generational transfer of wealth."