Hannah: Well thanks for joining us today Sarah and Krista.
Sarah: Thank you Hannah it’s nice to be here.
Hannah: Yes. You guy’s focus is team development. Can you tell a little bit about yourself and how you got into team development as really your focus.
Sarah: This is Sarah. And to give you just a little bit of background. I began in the industry in 1990 at a regional brokerage firm and I served both in a support role and an advice role and I spent some time on the product side of the business and I served as director of marketing and training and business development for a regional brokerage firm which was owned by a bank and I also served in a leadership role on the firm’s management committee. And then in 2003 I had that entrepreneurial bug bite me and I ended up starting my own business doing consulting and coaching and speaking and content development within the financial services industry. And then Krista and I met back in 2005 and started working together. So Krista do you want to give a bit of your background?
Krista: Sure Sarah thank you. I actually joined the industry in 1997 as a consultant to begin with. I didn’t come from a financial services industry so I kind of fell upon an industry after working in a family business that held a lot of dysfunction. I learned how not to manage and motivate people on that family business and I just couldn’t get along with my father and trying to lead that company to its next generation. So I decided to go elsewhere and I was hired by Paragon Resources the company that I now own to do team building. To do work with financial advisors because the gentleman that founded the company was a former advisor, former money manager and he saw the industry back in the late 90s is going in the direction of teams and making sure that in order to deliver the ultimate client experience there had to be a team of people serving the client’s needs.
Krista: So I got excited about learning a whole new industry and now that I have been 21 years in it, I think I have become a little bit of an expert of everything when it comes to financial planners, RIAs all different channels of this business to help them really put together their teams. Sarah and I collaborated on writing a book together, the Five Steps to Five Star Service. We released it in 2007 and we work with many of our corporate relationships as well individual advisors and planners on helping them build their own infrastructures and making sure that they can take care of those client deliverables in a good way for their clients.
Hannah: One thing I’m noticing just in hearing both of you talking, I know it’s a subtle difference but I think it’s a really important difference is that you’ve all talked about working with a team rather than working with your employees or having a manager work with their employers. I think those terms really matter. Can you guys expound on that. Is this intentional? First of all is it intentional?
Sarah: It is intentional.
Hannah: And why do you do that?
Sarah: Yes Hannah it really is intentional. I think words really matter and perception is a pretty powerful thing and so how individuals interpret words can affect their mindset, their behaviors, their actions and then subsequently their performance. A lot of people will perceive that old term employee sort of from the perspective of ownership like the company owns us, we have marching orders, it’s a one way street. Versus the term associate is definitely an improvement on employee but the term team creates that feeling of belonging, your voice in your work really matter and are all part of this sort of unified course, a singular movement, vision and goals where by sort of every team member on any given day it’s critical to the longterm success of that company, that firm.
Sarah: So the word team has connotations of togetherness and support and collaboration and comradery versus that employee term as more sort of feels like ownership and marching orders and it’s a one way street not a two way street. And Krista and I sort of believe that teaming has more of a we mentality mindset whereas employee has more of a sort of I mentality mindset. Does that make sense?
Hannah: Absolutely. And even when you were talking about the employee I was cringing as you were describing it, it was like, yeah. That doesn’t sit right.
Sarah: And feelings matter, right? So the way that that word makes you feel is going to affect what your attitude is and subsequently what your work is and how well you perform and how loyal you are to that firm. It just has so much more of a positive together collaborative connotation and it makes a big difference.
Krista: I think the industry has some old mindsets that need to change and evolve. It’s not an individual context sport anymore. It used to be just go out for thrill of the hunt of the client, close it, skin it move on. Well, if a client never heard you talking about them like a hunt, which is how it used to be in the olden days, it wouldn’t go over too well, I’m sure. So this really is a team effort. Again to deliver everything that has to be done for a client, to do right by the client, it involves a collective collaborative group working together and being able to see value in all contributions in that team. It’s not just the planner that is the value in that organization or in that company. So I think the mindset is definitely evolving and moving forward hopefully. We’re dragging it forward.
Hannah: And that’s why we’re so excited to have you guys on this podcast. I talked to so many planners and the word that just keeps coming to mind is there’s so much dysfunction in the workplace, really unhealthy work environments. And so for the listeners, there are a lot of times younger or newer planners, how do you recommend that they kind of deal with this dysfunction in the workplace?
Sarah: First of all dysfunction can come from many places and be defined differently by different people in different generations and backgrounds and experience. Some of the things that create dysfunction are ego and pride and greed and lack of respect and poor communication or lack of processes and systems. Lack of clarity on what’s expected of each team member. No understanding on priorities. All these types of things greed, dysfunction in the workplace and the three of us could probably talk about dysfunction for the next two hours. But Krista and I would probably say in our experience wherever we go across the industry, most of the time, dysfunction is rooted in some sort of communication problem.
Sarah: If you think about sort of your life, not just work but if you think about any relationships in life, most disagreements or arguments stem from some sort of communication in our personal and our work lives. So it could be over communication or lack of communication, ineffective communication, poor non-verbals, lack of active listening, having preconceived notions of what someone is going to say. All of these things are tied to communication issues of one sort or another and most of the time these are the things that create that dysfunction in the workplace.
Sarah: So Krista and I are huge proponents of having really well structured team communication plans and making sure that every team member understands that they have a voice on that team and that their ideas and questions and thoughts and suggestions are all going to be heard. And we like to make sure that each firm or each advisory team has great in-person team meetings for communication as dealing with electronic communication in the form of everything from sort of email standards and voicemail and especially that CRM and expectations in and around that.
Sarah: I think what happened so often and sometimes this is generational as well is that the younger planner may not understand where the order or the more veteran or experienced advisor or planner is coming from and sometimes they don’t speak up. If we don’t communicate our questions or our challenges or our frustrations then we sometimes end up sort of leaving the firm which is a really bad thing if it could be solved through having a conversation. And so the biggest thing to remember advice-wise for younger planners and trying to confront your boss or something like that is making sure that your communication always come from a place of respect. And when you respectfully ask questions or respectfully challenge other people on the team regardless of length of service or title etc then starting that conversation and asking questions and answering them can lead to solving that particular communication problem.
Sarah: Think often Krista and I see sort of people try to put band-aids versus really going to the root cause of what that real communication problem is or what that real dysfunctional element that’s coming through in the workplace. What is really the root cause of that problem. And in any work environment, the things that we want to make sure that we eradicate or minimize dysfunction are things like trust, respect, fairness and that effective two-way open honest, transparent communication. I think when people become better listeners and become better communicators we can solve all kinds of dysfunctional problems in the workplace.
Krista: Much of the dysfunction never really gets addressed. There’s an avoidance characteristic of this industry. Often we know there’s a problem, we may not know exactly where the problem is coming from but we really don’t want to deal with it and then often why they don’t want to deal with it is that everyone is so darn busy. There’s so much in a reactive mode all day long. Responding to client’s needs, responding to the next prospect, looking for more leads, looking for what is going on in the markets and what we need to keep up with our training and our professional development. It’s just there is so much work that need to be done to do it right.
Krista: Again that’s why we focus on teams but then what happens is we might put people together, one body in a seat but we haven’t really taken the time to do the due diligence to make sure the right people are doing the right roles or that we’re having as Sarah said the communication fluid and we’re speaking our truth everyday and we’re making sure that we really care about our team members. So we just kind of just react to everything all day and we drink from that fire hose of activity when we really need to just stop the madness, take some time, a lot of times out of the office and really work on the issues and deal with them as a collective group. Don’t expect just one person to solve all the problems.
Krista: Si it’s quite interesting ’cause Sarah and I often feel that we have a sign over our heads that says dysfunction come here, we bring the fun into the dysfunction. We often get our clients because something is really problematic. Here is performance issues. There’s partnerships. There’s making sure that all the work can get done and there’s efficiencies and everything to get it done. We’re really much trying to make sure that people work well together and eliminate their issues as much as possible.
Hannah: As I’m hearing you guys talk about this and how important communication is, I keep thinking of this idea of managing app and I’m just thinking of the new planner who’s listening to this and is identifying with everything that you’re saying. If their bosses aren’t willing to change are they kind of in a hopeless situation?
Krista: Well, Sarah, you want to take that first and then I’ll give you my opinion.
Sarah: So my thoughts on that are, with anything in life, the only thing we have control over is what we say and what we do and how we react to things that are happening to us. I feel that we have to be our own advocate even in the most desperate of work situations. So you need to have your voice, you need to respectfully try to communicate with your boss and maybe it happens, you have to try several times. If the response is repeatedly back or that there isn’t going to be any kind of change on their part, then really you have two choices. Either there’s enough stuff in your work environment and satisfaction in your role that you learn to deal with it or you make a choice to leave and find a home where you are on a team that does, is more inclusive, where you have a voice where your boss will listen to you. They may not always agree with everything but they’ll at least hear you out and you’ll feel more supported and collaborative and all that good stuff.
Sarah: If you try once and you get no response, don’t give up yet, I would try it a couple of times. But at the end of the day if the boss isn’t going to change at all, then you have one of two choices; you stay and you make the best of it or you leave and find a different home.
Krista: I probably would say that there’s too many people staying in positions. To who’s fault it is, I don’t know, I don’t want to put blame or fall on somebody but I’ve just seen too many people stay in a situation way too long. And they start to realize or they start to accept this is just the way it is to be a financial planner or just that’s what this industry is about. And I would like to say it’s not. There are a lot of people that are evolving in this industry and making sure that we can continue into the next generation. We have to evolve. We have to make some changes. I am often in conversation with individuals whether they be partners, whether they be associates, whether they be a support member and making sure that they really are aligning their true talents and their needs for engagement in the work that they’re doing, are being fulfilled and really to make a decision.
Krista: Again it goes back to the dysfunction side of things that there’s so many times that people will not make a decision because they’re fearful of it, they may think that there’s no other jobs out there. Well in this marketplace since Sarah and I this year, we’ve been working with all of our advisory teams and I don’t know any team that’s not looking for any person, that’s not looking to expand their chain. This is a very gross … The economy is great right now but I would say this industry in particular because it is aging so quickly and there’s less people that are getting as interested and doing the planning and providing the advice, that I think you have a little more control over your destiny and really making sure that you get the right environment that’s going to be conducive for you.
Krista: If it’s not working where you are and you know you’ve tried and you’ve communicated to your boss or your supervisor or whatever title, it’s not working, it’s really time to do something about it because you should enjoy the work that you do, it shouldn’t be work. It should be a vocation. It should be a calling for you to do what you’ve been put in this earth for.
Hannah: It’s so true. I can tell you conversations I’ve had in the last several weeks of people who are scared to make that job that after they make the job, it’s so much better. I think there’s some quote about the best things in life are on the other side of fear. So it’s how do we break through that fear of putting ourselves out there, starting another job. That’s where some of the best things in life are.
Sarah: Hannah one of the things that we see all the time is that when someone joins a team, there is not enough clarity around expectations. So the leadership is not necessarily in many cases, not all obviously we have some great leaders in the industry but many are not very good at articulating what the expectations are of that new team member and the team member isn’t very good at articulating what their expectations are of the firm or asking exactly what is expected of them. So the trouble is when we don’t talk about expectations, we can’t really be surprised by people walking out the door or negative impact occurring. So we talk about this with clients all the time.
Sarah: We’ll ask an advisor or planner, “When was the last time you communicated with Mr. Smith.” They’ve just shared with us that Mr. Smith has left them. He headed out to another firm. So we ask, “When was the last time you spoke to Mrs. Smith? And they say, “Well, two years ago.” Well if you’re not communicating, then how do you know what’s going on in their lives? How do they feel like they’re being serviced? And then when they find out that their expectations weren’t being met on the service side, we ask, “When did you talk to them about service expectations?” And the planner or the advisor goes, “We didn’t do that at all. We talked to them about performance expectations but not about service expectations.”
Sarah: And the same thing happens with teams. Here’s your job description that was written by some HR consultant 25 years ago. That’s not really pertinent anymore, that we don’t update and we don’t talk about everything that’s expected. So the new person doesn’t understand what’s expected of them and then when communication isn’t there either, then you end up with a poor result and the person either leaves or the employer, the firm is disappointed with them and it’s just negative, negative, negative. So expectations conversations are really important at the onset of the relationship as well as throughout the relationship and making sure that you’re giving feedback and you’re not blowing off or procrastinating doing performance reviews and things like that. It’s so important to always to be talking about expectations.
Hannah: That’s such a practical takeaway, I mean if you’re looking for a job and you’re interviewing firms or you’re being interviewed and you’re interviewing firms, what is your expectation of somebody in this position? It’s such a basic question, it seems like. And then if you’re working with somebody and you’re working for somebody, having the conversation of, I’m I meeting your expectations? I mean that feels vulnerable but, men that seems really powerful.
Sarah: But yet we avoid it.
Krista: And so often not done and that’s where I think there’s this hierarchy kind of perspective that I can’t ask these questions or I can’t dig deeper. They’re too busy, they don’t have time for me or do they really care about my development and the role that I’m doing. Do they look at my personal needs.
Sarah: It’s so very basic.
Krista: And eve in interviews there’s nothing wrong with the person applying for a position to ask questions, to dig deeper, to see if it’s going to be a good fit. The person hiring the individuals, they don’t want to make a bad hiring decision, they don’t want to be bad culture or bad fit in their culture, in their team. So the more that there is that dialogue, again communication comes up again that’s why we spend so much time understanding the nuances of people’s style of communication, their preferences, what drives them, what interests them. We’re not robots. We are humans and it’s very important to make sure there’s direct candid communication at all opportunities.
Hannah: I just love this idea of the communication and how important that is and it shows so much initiative for somebody, for an employee to come and drive those conversations. And so part of this communication is just defining roles, I know that you guys are … It’s really important to your work that you do it with clients. So can you talk more about that, of how defining roles is important and making sure that you get in the right role.
Sarah: One of the things that I think, human beings often like to believe is that were good at everything. And the fact is we’re just really aren’t. Now Krista and I would probably both say anyone can do anything but if we can identify our sweet spot, if we can really know what our natural talents are and find those roles where we can spend at least 80% of our time in that sweet spot, then we’re going to be better more productive, happier people at work and we’re going to be driving more results for the company with whom we work. And so in the old days, so much on the sole proprietorship, it was one person and half a support person and everybody was expected to everything but the business was a lot less complex, it was a lot more simplistic back then.
Sarah: Today the business is so much more complex and there’s so much more to do and because not everyone can be good at everything, again when we define the role, when we define the work, the actual responsibilities that have to be done and then think about the type of person who is going to be a good fit for that, then we’re going to win. A great example that Krista and see all the time is if we use the title Client Service Associate which is fairly prevalent throughout the industry. This person sort of in the old days, answered the phone, typed correspondents, it was very administrative. Whereas today, that person is expected to do those things and process paperwork and operational type stuff and lots of dotting of Is and crossing of Ts. But they’re also expected to make proactive courtesy calls to clients, be front facing, run the client communication plan or the client appreciation plan.
Sarah: And most people don’t have both those skillsets naturally so they have to stretch too far out of their comfort zone which means they often then lead to spending too much time doing things that not only are they not good at but they may not like, which again leads to disengagement. So if we can better define the role that’s needed as this is all operational, it’s more behind the scenes, it’s more tactical, it’s more rolling up the sleeves and digging into the minutia dotting Is, crossing Ts and we find the right person for that and then create a separate role for the front facing person who needs to be making courtesy calls and taking more initiative and driving appreciation events and all those sorts of things. Then we can find a person who is better, who has more people skills and is better at that front facing versus the CSA person who is doing all the operational paperwork type stuff.
Sarah: Today there’s so much more volume and there so much more to do that if we can divide the role and put two people who have those different skillsets, we’re going to be more productive, we’re going to drive productivity, we’re going to drive loyalty with our team members and all that good stuff. So figuring out the roles, defining the specific responsibilities and finding people with that natural skillset is going to help. One person or two people trying to do it all, just doesn’t work. You can’t retain clients that way.
Krista: So I’m going to say that when we look at working with people, we don’t really want to look at the title that you’re looking to fill for your organization but really looking at the function that you’re trying to fill in the organization. We like to look at any business that we work with as having kind of three core building blocks of the business. That there has to be folks in the business and technology and resources and knowledge on how to find new business. So looking at the key elements of bringing new business into the door. So the functions of marketing and selling to individuals.
Krista: The second core kind of building block of the business is grind. What we look at with grind is kind of making widget, is making sure that we’re addressing all the technical aspect of what needs to get done for the client relationship. Financial strategy, the product selections, the insurance needs the wealth management needs, the investment needs, all aspects. The administration operations, the very detailed work that Sarah was just talking about to make sure the Ts you’re crossing, the Is you hare dotted, we have to make sure we handle that function in the business.
Krista: And then lastly, what do we do to keep clients around? This ultimate client experience, the showing our appreciation, the proactive servicing of relationships, we call that minding. So finding, grinding and minding is a model that we have been using for a couple of decades now. We actually trademarked the terminology and how some assessments that look at people’s businesses and making sure that they have all the elements to do the finding, grinding and minding. If we look at it that way for role definition it’s a lot clear that everyone contributes to the overall solution for the client. That it’s not just the solopreneur as Sarah said earlier that is important. It’s everyone has value.
Hannah: Well, I really like that idea of the finding, minding and grinding in helping, where do you fit within a firm. So immediate question that came to mind was, are you one of those throughout your entire career or do people evolve and change into different roles? What have you guys thought in your experience?
Krista: Our experience has been that usually there’s some core traits to a person, or natural talents to that person that are inherent for a lifetime in that person. So it has nothing to do with what we’ve put in our head and we’ve learned in school by reading, by listening to podcasts, by doing webinars, by training events. It’s not something that we learn it’s just that it’s an inherent attributes that give a talent to someone in one of those areas. Now we’re not just one, we probably are one and maybe a little bit of something else. But one thing I do know is that we’re not all three of those. And that’s where again the industry has come from a mindset that you have to be able to find, grind and mind. It’s one person do it all, figure it out and then when you have your first heart attack then we’ll come and save you from the situation.
Krista: And that is what we see, we see there’s a lot of stress in this industry. So it is something that we have tendencies and we have elements or attributes to us that we have a natural desire to do, maybe we can’t define it but that’s why we spend the days helping our clients understand their team members better so that they can jumpstart that role definition. Sarah would you add any more from you experience in helping people understand their talents?
Sarah: No, I think that you said that really well. And it’s not Hannah that we’re saying that no people can’t evolve and have sort of a career path. But I think people do inherently have a natural skillset.
Hannah: So let’s talk about that. You guys do a lot with personality tests in the context of teams. Can you tell us more about how you do this and why this is so important to work with advisors I guess.
Krista: What we’re really proud of is we have a database now exclusively from the financial services industry of all different roles, management level, to ownership levels to advisors, to planners to technical analysts, to all different client service associate type roles, administration operations, sales managers, all different roles. Our database is about a hundred thousand reports and we call them assessments because we don’t like to use the word test you often. Because a test makes you go back to school and think you’re going to pass or fail the class. You can’t pass or fail yourself we like to say when you’re doing your assessments.
Krista: The DiSC model is one of the two assessments that we always use with all of our advisory teams. And it’s because I think there’s this misnomer that just because you have that title or just because you became a planner or you are in an administrative role, client, service associate that’s the only thing that you are. You can’t be anything else. We really want to understand what makes you tick, what gives you energy. Because if I put you in the right role that keeps you highly energized and doesn’t ask of you to play a different person, to be somebody different each day. You’re going to have the capacity to do more and more of that. And because we need so many different styles to get everything done for the client, that we need to make sure we understand how we can manage our capacity by managing our energy.
Krista: The assessments that we use, DiSC is a very common model out there, it’s been around for a very long time and it’s always been used for helping with communication and helping people kind of bring self-awareness. DiSC that we use is a private label, mapmystrengths.com assessment that we have generated because we think it’s really important to not generalize people. To not put people in a box. To not say they’re just one behavior type. But to really understand the nuances of them. So the report that we actually asked you Hannah to complete, the DiSC map report actually generates one of 2401 responses based on how you answered the questionnaire. So it’s really sensitive to how you answer the questionnaire.
Krista: We know by how you answered it that you’re an incredible talker, you can influence many people to your way of thinking. You’d do great in the sales process and telling a story about the impact that your business can have on a client’s relationship. And that we know you’re probably best not being in front of a computer or pile of paper because that’s stretching you away from what your talents are, which is to go talk to people, to introduce yourself to others. So as a planner, we want you out of the office more that in it. We want you meeting with people rather than sitting bend that desk. Now there’s great people that are really good at doing the analysis and making sure that the Ts and Is are crossed … The Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted but we want to make sure you’re out there with the people.
Krista: Have you learned how to do all the technical stuff and all the details? Of course you have. But it’s not where you’re energy should be placed all the time. So that’s why we’re created, we have this database, we’ve done this for a couple of decades now of collecting the information on these folks. And we can understand what your natural attribute for you Hannah because of your result you’d be a natural gifted finder, that person that’s really good at marketing and sales and making sure that we bring in new relationships as quickly as possible and make sure we tell those stories to them.
Krista: The other part of our database is looking at why you do what you do. Why did you get into this business? That the element that I’m seeing more and more changes in for the generation that we’re in right now. A lot of people kind of stereotype generations. I hate to do that, I like to look just at the people and use these two languages of DiSC and motivators. So DiSC telling us how you do what you do and motivators talks about the why of your behavior. And that why I think is changing for the industry.
Krista: It used to be an industry that was much more economically driven. They wanted to get into the business because they get a return, they sell, they make money. I think there’s a little bit more meaning behind the people that are coming into the planning world today that we can identify by using these assessments, that what’s really driving you? And making sure that there’s some elements of putting a team together that’s driven by the same thing. That sees the world the same way. Is what leads to really cohesive teams. Is the experience that Sarah and I have had.
Hannah: Thinking about what you guys had talked about before, going through my DiSC profile and it’s with every strength comes a weakness and it’s just recognizing that about yourself and it’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality.
Krista: Right and the thing is that we don’t want to spend so much time on ‘weaknesses’, we say let’s capitalize on those strengths. Let’s make sure we use most of your strengths most of the time as Sarah said. 80% of the time if I can be in my zone of who I am, I will highly be energized to do the work that I do and I need to surround myself with people that are more talented in elements that yeah, they’re my weaknesses, yeah I could do them. But if I surround myself with somebody who is excellent at it, we are a cool team. We are a team that is a force to be reckoned with, we can really address all of the needs to the community when it comes to being a great financial planner.
Hannah: It’s funny have a number of friends who have one employee and one of the biggest problems is in the interview process they end up hiring somebody like themselves. Then it doesn’t work out and you’re like, well from the outside of course it wasn’t going to work out. You hired somebody who wants your job.
Krista: Right Sarah said many examples of that working with the coaching clients that she’s had with … We get in the interview, I really like them, would have coffee with them every day then they realize when they get them in the job itself, they’re like, they want to have coffee all day, they want to talk with me all day. They don’t necessarily want to do the work that I need them to do.
Hannah: I remember my first admin … Well the first one that worked out, we did some personality tests … Caveats set everything. One of them was, she was really high follow through. And I was like, “Oh I need you.” And it turned out to be a great relationship.
Krista: Right and that’s referencing the Kolbe index which is one that’s been around for a very long time. That one are the ones that we choose to use but we have several of our clients that use it in conjunction with the assessments that we use. Just because that’s a great high level overview of the person and then when they come to us, as we said earlier, a lot of times we’re coming because of dysfunction, we go down with a much more fine tune result by looking at the DiSC and the motivators side of things.
Hannah: So what are the motivators? I know you talked about that a little bit. What are the motivators that are out there for people. Especially as newer planner are looking for jobs, they’re looking to partner with people, what should they be looking for?
Krista: There is no one answer. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to teaming and so that’s why the motivators assessment is really helpful for looking at how people can be compatible not combat-able, compatible of working together. We have what’s called six universal motivators. And this goes for anyone in any industry. It doesn’t just mean the planning world. But it just means that there’s six kind of subject areas or areas of interest that people will have a desire, will view the world in that kind of lens in which what’s important for them and we kind of prioritize them. And those six different motivators the first one that’s pretty predominant in the financial services industry is called the economic. Because the economic is a person who’s looking for a return on investment of time, money and resources.
Krista: They’re very resourceful, they want to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck. That we’re growing and preserving assets. So the business world in general and especially the financial services world has always been very strongly driven by that economic motivator. And so profitability, productivity is of utmost importance. Another motivator that we see also a lot in the industry but not necessarily for everybody, is a conceptual motivator. Conceptual is all about seeking knowledge. Gaining and giving that information. Being inquisitive in nature. So it has nothing to do with smartness, IQ. It just really has to do with, “Do I want to dig down deeper and discover the truth in things.
Krista: So these folks in the industry are really good at discovery, getting to know the client. They’re very good at staying and attune to different financial strategies, what’s going on in the market, what are the different approaches to solving client problems, they’re very much the puzzle figure out. They figure out the end of the book before they finished reading it.
Krista: Another motivator that we see especially with their leaders in organizations as well and mostly in the financial planning world as well as kind of the leader of the free world is our power motivator. These are the folks that have real strong desire to be competitively driven, strategic, to be a leader, to champion their course and really kind of control their destiny and the destiny of others. The power motivator is one that’s consistently a strong one for lead financial planners in this world because they want to kind of like control their destiny. I mean that’s just what they want to do. So they have a harder time working in organizations where they feel like they are low on the totem pole.
Krista: The fourth one is called aesthetic which we don’t see as often in this industry but you have this one Hannah.
Hannah: It was my top one. Yeah.
Krista: Yeah. It was. And we don’t usually get to see as many aesthetics. I have the aesthetic also, it’s my third priority out of these six. The aesthetic person is very much into a life-work balance, a lifestyle business in particular. What I mean by life-work, I always say life-work because it’s because work comes last. In others words, our life comes first and we’re living to fulfill our own personal development. So our own best life. We’re putting a stamp out there. We’re unique characters. We usually have some ability to have artistic expression, an art form. We’re very much into the experience of living. So money should be something that is fulfilling our lifestyle. So the aesthetic motivator is a lot of times in this industry, every building that you kind of go into is kind of corporate gray. It’s because most of the people that are leading those organizations are low aesthetic. They’re not looking at the experience as much as somebody like you and I would be.
Krista: The fifth one is regulatory. I mentioned that one a little bit earlier. We also call this our principle motivator. It’s where we often see folks that that very much look that they have been on this earth for a calling, for a purpose. And we’re seeing a little bit more of this coming out in the industry than we have in the past. It’s usually a lower priority one but I am seeing more of it where especially for the younger planners that are joining in, is that they really feel that they have principles that they need to uphold and what is right to do for the client. Making sure that we hold true to our faith, our family and making sure that we leave a legacy.
Krista: So that’s the fifth one and then the last one is humanitarian. Our altruistic person. That’s the person that really would prefer to do pro bono work, would prefer to do on charitable work. It’s giving back to society, seeing the potential in other people and helping them live that potential. You might have some elements of all six of those but we usually prioritize the top three as being the top three as being those things that drive us forward. And what we’ll find out is a lot of times birds of a feather will flock together. So Sarah and I will share this need for theoretical or in that more strong conceptual motivator, that knowledge. Or because we’re consultants we want to share our knowledge but we also keep on working our craft and continuing to get more professional development is a very important aspect to what we do. And you’ve got that one hight too Hannah. The three ladies here we could just talk all day long and learn more and more about one another and about other subjects.
Hannah: We really could. Then what I love about this is, I know we keep saying this, is that there’s no right one. They’re all good.
Hannah: It’s just how they work together and it’s understanding like, hey if my boss is that economic utility hardwired, cost benefit, return on investment, type, that’s the language that I need to be speaking to them.
Sarah: That’s exactly right and I think the assessments that we utilize, the DiSC really helps with role definition and it really helps with communication so we better understand our boss’ style, our team members style, all those good things. And we can flex our own personal style to make that working relationship more effective. And with the motivators, we hopefully have synergy with our other team members. So we have things in common and there’s top three motivators on the team. And when we don’t, sometimes that can be cause for sort of lack of chemistry. But when we’re aware of our own motivators and other team members, if they are different, that awareness in itself can be helpful in working together in a more effective way and having a better understanding of each other.
Hannah: We’re talking about these personalities, the motivators, one other things that came to mind as we were talking about that is, it’s one thing to work with … To have a boss who is a different motivator but when we’re still looking at partnerships or succession plans. Think it’s likely more important that you guys are aligned on some of the motivators. I guess the bigger question here is do you see this playing out with succession planning? Or what are you seeing in that space especially as it relates to this personality test or personality assessments.
Krista: Sarah why don’t you take that one ’cause you do a lot of work with succession planning with your clients I know.
Sarah: As it relates with the assessment Hannah, we see those tools being unbelievably helpful regardless of where the team is on that journey. So we utile them with young teams that are on growth mode and we utilize them for succession as well. The thing with succession is as Krista said earlier, there’s an aging financial advisor population, an aging financial planner population. And the industry has changed a lot. And for those who are still in the sole practitioner mode, and they’re looking to find a successor, many times they are looking for someone who is exactly like them because all they are looking for is to have a transition to get out and they want to find someone who’s just exactly like them from a DiSC perspective and possibly a motivator perspective as well.
Sarah: However, if they are looking for a successor but they’re on a team already, then we may not be looking for someone who’s exactly like them. We maybe looking for someone who’s the opposite of them. So as it relates to succession planning there is no sort of one answer as it relates to the DiSC and motivators assessments but they are unbelievably helpful when we first get the senior advisor or senior planner to define what exactly they’re looking for, for their vision, for the future for the exit strategy, for their ultimate team, their ultimate practice. So it starts with them and then understanding who is already on the team and then figuring out where the gaps are to fit into that.
Sarah: But some of the problems that we see with succession planning are that people are waiting till the last minute. It’s funny that we do financial planning for a living but we’re not really doing our own plan if you will. And so a lot of times advisors are like, “Yeah. I think I want to get out in a year.” Well, a year is not enough time even if you’ve already built a team and your success is on that team. A year is not enough time to make all the transitions that need to occur. So Krista and I have found that as it relates to transitioning client relationships, it takes a minimum of three years.
Sarah: So when you bring on a successor planner and you endorse them with your clients, that’s great but endorsement is entirely different than trust. And so they may feel that that person is, “Oh I’ve trusted my financial planner and they’ve brought this new person on …” But it’s going to take them three years of working with that new financial planner to really build that trusted relationship with them like they had with you. And so the biggest mistake we see is people waiting too long. Ideally you want to have a seven year plan for succession to transition out of the industry but at a very minimum as it relates to clients transitions, you want to have three years.
Krista: A lot of times we think we need someone just like me to take the business into the next generation when in reality because the industry is evolving, the person that would be your successor may not be like you. They may have same principles of how to do the investments, what kind of plans to put together and the product selection and all of that. But they may not be a carbon copy of you. And I think too many people think it should be and so every situation is unique and that’s why using the assessments and having good due diligence and taking the time to objectively look at the relationship before getting into it I think is so helpful.
Krista: So many people just jump right in or they say, “You’re successful, I’m successful. Let’s work together. Let’s figure it out.” When in reality that’s one of the worst things to do because they’ll just compete with one another. They won’t really get synergy. They won’t really see or reap the benefits of complementing one another. That’s why using the assessments would be very helpful ’cause in a succession plan that they may have waited too long, if we can understand who we are, what makes each of us tick, we can go into the relationship with an understanding that we can at least work together for the next couple of years to make this work.
Krista: If I had to work with you everyday for the next 30 years, that would be whole another story. But we want to try to make it so that there’s more formation of succession plans than there are disillusions of them. Because right now again it’s an industry that’s having some challenges and making sure there is a plan. I will have to say a lot of my clients that come to me, the planners that come to me they’re a little scared before they have had their first client actually say, “Well hey, you’re getting a little old. We’ve been working together for a long time now. What’s you plan because I don’t know with my money when you’re not around.” That feels horrible to the planner that’s having to receive that message from their top client. And so it’s better off to put a plan together before you get that question asked from any of your clients. ‘Cause if they’re not actually verbalizing it, they may still be thinking about it and not saying anything. So that’s a little bit of a shock factor a lot of times for the advisors on our call today.
Hannah: And being a young advisor I’ve heard clients say that they work with me because I’m young, because they know they won’t have to find another advisor.
Krista: There you go.
Hannah: And it’s when I have prospects call they’re like, “Why should I work with you?” And I’m I’ll say that. “I’m young. I’m going to be here when you’re 90.”
Krista: I am committed to your investments, I am committed to your plan, yeah exactly for a lifetime. That’s good.
Hannah: Why does all of these people … Because you’re very focused on understanding people and this team stuff really matter.
Sarah: So Hannah I think that often in business we focus so much time and energy on the numbers, the numbers and we forget that it’s people who drive the numbers. And so if we don’t focus on people, the numbers aren’t going to happen so we might have a record month or a record year but that success is not sustainable unless we have the right people on our teams surrounding us, helping drive that success. Krista and I talk a lot about ROP, return on people where so many in the industry focus on ROI. We kind of believe that ROP will drive ROI. If you focus on the people first, on building the right team that can drive your client experience, then the numbers, the big numbers, the big successes will follow.
Sarah: But you need the right people and you need to create the right culture and environment and team experience where they can thrive and grow and have fun and avoid dysfunction and all of those things and when you focus on that team experience, have great communication, great appreciation, growth potential, feedback. All of those things are going to breed team members that are loyal and productive which will dive those numbers and that productivity. And I think the industry has changed so much and I bet 25 years ago if you asked a financial planner or a financial advisors what business are we in, they would not say, “We’re in the relationship business.”
Sarah: Whereas today that is true. We’re definitely in the relationship business and the industry has changed dramatically over the last two decades. We no longer sell products, we solve problems. What we do today is relational not transactional. We’ve gone from being reactive to being planning based. We’ve gone from me the sole practitioner to we, the team. We’ve transitioned from being more competitive to more collaborative. We’ve gone from serving the masses to serving a niche or a target audience. We’ve gone from low touch to high touch.
Sarah: All of these things are people oriented, are relational in nature. And so what Krista and I see so often is that people are focused on the business side, the marketing, the numbers. And they’re avoiding dealing with the people issues that they have which could be not enough people, it could be the wrong people, it could be the right people but in the wrong role. It could be communication. And when focus on all of those internal people issues … Where can we drive bigger numbers and greater success and be able to do more for our clients. So people to us is fundamental to the ultimate success of the business.
Krista: We do this business. We help planners and their team members and in reality anyone that comes up to me who’s not happy at what they do, who’s in a job that doesn’t fulfill them. I like to shake them. I like to tell them, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” I watched a TED Talk probably about a year ago now and I said, this is why I do what I do. It was a TED Talk on how to live to be a hundred plus. It was on National Geographic studying these incredible communities called the Blue Zones and talking about how they eat certain things or they do exercise or they take their medication. What is it that really keeps these unique communities in Italy and Greece and Costa Rica … Actually there’s one in California. It’s the one that’s closest for us. What is it about these folks that they last so long?
Krista: And it’s because of their relationship with other people. Their social integration, their ability to communicate and interact with people and smile and look at people on the face. Not look at your smartphone and send a text, because it doesn’t do the same thing to your brain of making your happy and making it feel like you’ve had a chocolate bar all day of putting some dopamine and some good oxytocin in your brain and making you feel good. It’s when you look at somebody and you talk to them and you see them face-to-face.
Krista: I think there’s so many people … I saw it when I was a kid. As I mentioned earlier I worked in my family business where my father and I just couldn’t get along and that was because of his style of leadership. He just would yell at people and if you didn’t like it, you got out of there and you quit. And I just saw the revolving door and the angst on people’s faces. I wanted to make a commitment to help people really find what their talent is, what their contribution is and let them have healthier relationships with the people that they’re working with. We spend so many hours at the office.
Krista: And why have a relationship that’s not the best? And so I really want our leaders, our planners that are building enterprises to really think about their environment. Is it one where you can be there for a hundred years that you really want to be there. Because it’s not the stuff we’re eating or the medication we’re taking or the exercise. It’s really the distinction. It’s really about the relationships we have with the everyday people that we spend our time with. So that’s why we spend so much time on ROP as Sarah called it, return on people.
Hannah: And if you do that right, your clients benefit and that’s really what this is all about in the end. It’s how do we help our clients.