The new year is a good time for reflections and resolutions. For advisors, it’s also a chance to think about the lessons they’ve learned in their careers.

A variety of seasoned financial pros shared with Financial Advisor what they wish they had known earlier in their careers. Their answers were diverse—and enlightening.

Avoid Cookie-Cutter Approaches
“You can’t have a cookie-cutter approach with clients,” said Bob Peterson, a senior wealth advisor at Crescent Grove Advisors in Lake Forest, Ill.

When he entered the profession, he said, he had no shortage of technical training about investments, taxes, estate planning, and related subjects. But what he didn’t realize was that advisors “should really take more time to get to know their clients’ wants, needs, and wishes,” he said. “The sooner you understand each of your clients, the better off you and your clients will be.”

For Darla Kashian at RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis, understanding clients often entails more than dollars and cents, she said. “It’s not just about the investments,” she explained. “Obviously, we are prudent, but the issues families face are greater than their specific investments.”

For instance, she said, it’s important to address issues such as planning for special-needs children, incorporating individual health concerns or substance abuse problems, and personal obligations to siblings and other loved ones.

“These are the big issues we deal with every day in our practice,” she said, adding, “Building trust is crucial to having these conversations.”

It’s A Relationship Business
DeHaven Becker of Harmony Private Wealth at Steward Partners Global Advisory in Fort Collins, Colo., put it this way: “This is a relationship business. Being smart, competent, responsive, service-oriented, and credentialed are the minimum table stakes to do this for a living. [But] I also become friends with my clients.”

That means knowing his clients’ family dynamics and their private concerns. In return, he said, clients frequently ask him questions that have nothing to do with their investments. “They know I have their back,” he observed. “They’re not just a number to me.”

Run Your Business Like A Business
Chris Marsico at Rossby Financial, a RIA platform in Saxonburg, Pa., wishes he had realized earlier that advisors are also business owners. “All too often, we advisors act like we’re just salespeople and not what we truly are, a business,” he said.

That, he added, can prohibit future growth. Advisors who don’t change their mindset from “salesperson” to “business owner,” he elaborated, are typically unable to grow their businesses the way they want to.

Advisory practices that do best, said Ken Van Leeuwen of Van Leeuwen & Co. in Princeton, N.J., tend to be those that expertise or otherwise serve a need that’s unmet elsewhere. “Finding an area within financial planning that is underserved and where you can establish yourself as an expert is a strategy that can be very successful,” he said.

Van Leeuwen’s firm focuses on corporate executives of public companies, he explained. But whatever the specialty, he said, clients are “happy to pay for your services when they know you are providing real, tangible value.”

First « 1 2 » Next