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Every Career Path Has Its Phases. What are yours?

Generals start their military careers with basic training and work their way through the ranks. Athletes transition from high school to college to the pros. Doctors begin their careers with a residency then become a clinician, joining a practice and later possibly opening their own. No matter the industry, earning your stripes is as much a process as it is a rite of passage. Advisors have distinct stages in their career as well. Each one is defined by its areas of focus and strategies for growth. This guide is designed to help you make the most of the opportunities presented by the phase you are in while preparing you for the next one.

Following the action steps in each of the four key areas studied by The Oechsli Institute can help you
sustain continued growth throughout each stage of your career.

It’s all about the relationship.

As you build your client base, if your relationships with your top clients remain strictly business, you are missing out on one of the most effective—and arguably enjoyable—ways to gather new assets and new clients. Do you know your clients’ hobbies and passions? Have you met their family members and friends? If your top clients only see you behind your desk, you need to get out more!

Getting social by hosting intimate events anchored by a fun activity—a golf outing, a ballgame, wine tasting, a charity event for a cause you are involved with—gives your best clients a reason to introduce you to family and friends who aren’t already on your books. It also may spark deeper conversations that can help uncover hidden opportunities and put more of your current clients’ assets under your management. Don’t forget to expand your options and your reach by putting social media into your social relationships.

You and your clients know you could do more.

Our surveys show that new, mid-career and veteran advisors are pretty much alike in one measure: self-ratings in key service areas. When it comes to meeting the investment performance expectations of their affluent clients, fewer than three quarters of new, mid-career and veteran advisors give themselves high marks. It’s likely that most everyone has some service areas to fine tune in their businesses

Catering to high-net-worth clients is not easy—the demands are greater and the stakes are higher. Additionally, their service-level expectations are forged in other high-touch (and higher margin) environments, from hotels and restaurants to car dealerships and beyond. But all is not lost. Searching for ways to improve your service level is a career-long process. Take heart in knowing that you are not alone in this endeavor—and that the following action steps will make it easier to get started. By focusing on the needs of your top or trickiest clients, you’ll enable your enhanced service levels and skill sets to spread throughout your entire book.

Stay top-of-mind and ensure your clients feel they do, too.

Timely client communication should be a core competency of any advisor’s practice. But our survey
shows that only 66 percent of new advisors gave themselves high ratings on that measure, and only 64 percent of mid-career and veteran advisors did so. Self-ratings were only a little better when it came to advisors’ level of personal service.

Providing financial advice to affluent clients is a high-touch business, and as noted before, your clients are evaluating you against service providers in other industries—not just other advisors. If you are not communicating well and often, and failing to take the time to give those communications the personal touch that will wow and delight clients, you may find yourself struggling to achieve your business growth goals.

Enjoy Every Phase of Your Career

Even a great career is full of changes and transitions, successes and setbacks. But whereas time may force an athlete to transition from a love of playing into a love of watching after a decade or so, as a financial advisor, you can retire at the top of your game at any age—if you choose to retire at all.

Success isn’t the result of happenstance; it’s the result of setting goals, achieving them, and setting higher or more meaningful ones. Whether your goal is to stay a one-person shop with a short list of clients or lead a massive practice that stretches across several states, one thing is certain: maintaining strong personal connections with your clients and partners will be at the core of your success, no matter how you define it.

Taking the time to master each phase of your career before moving on to the next one can make achieving your goals that much easier and that much more rewarding. After all, your ultimate goal isn’t only greater client service. You’re also pursuing greater career satisfaction!

The data presented in this white paper was from research conducted by The Oechsli Institute between January 2013 and February 2014. There were 1,139 total respondents from a variety of backgrounds, experience and levels of success. Data was collected through an online survey.