Running a business in financial services is no walk in the park.
Not only do you have to be amazing at giving financial planning advice, you also have to be a master at negotiating the complexities of your team, keeping up-to-date with regulatory, legal and contractual law, and let’s not forget being a process-focused leader and innovator.
I think you’ll agree – there’s no amount of ‘technical’ qualifications that will help you with all that lot.
So, the question is quite simple: have you got what it takes?
Aside from the need for a bucket-load of passion and energy for the profession as a whole, you’re going to need a tonne of other skills to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.
It’s like the blind leading the blind!
Over the years, I have seen some of the ‘smartest’ financial planners on the planet struggle to make it as business owners and leaders of teams.
1. Identity crisis
Well, first and foremost, many businesses in our magical profession are suffering from an identity crisis. They are not sure if they are a lifestyle business or an all-grown-up business that can function without the main planner or business owner.
Sadly, it’s the former that is more often true, as clarity on this position is rare. Without firmly placing your marker in the sand, the business and all those within it will simply swing from one model to the next, never really achieving anything significant. What makes it worse is I believe that this is the biggest cause of stress and unpredictability in firms today.
2. People skills
I know this sounds crazy as we are in a people and a relationship business, but the skills that make you an amazing financial planner are NOT the same set of skills that make you an amazing business and team leader.
When you take off the financial planner hat, you need to put on the hat of the innovator, the ideas guy/girl who comes up with the ground-breaking new ideas that will transform and accelerate your business.
You need to put on the hat that understands your team and knows how to get the best out of them by unleashing their own personal passions and goals.
You need to appreciate the importance of processes, procedures, systems and controls, all of which will secure the consistent delivery of your amazing service which clients have come to trust and love.
And that is not all: you then need to be able to understand the advancements in technology while establishing effective workflows, task management and internal service promises like your life depends on it!
Shall I go on? No? Well, believe me, I really could.
I’ve picked only two areas but there are many more.
Some of the more forward-thinking business owners and firms recognise this and have put provisions and plans in place. They surround themselves with key people who can, and do, bring these amazing skills to the party. Worryingly, the majority of the profession don’t do this – but think they can do it themselves!
I sit on the leadership team and the board of several firms
I sit as the head of operations and business development. Success in the areas that I cover are fundamental to the success of the firms we support. I focus on operations, standards, quality, excellence and of course getting the best out of every single member of the team.
Are you missing these skills in your business, on your board or within your leadership team? If you don’t have them, it doesn’t mean that your business doesn’t need them. It doesn’t have to be me. Look inside your business: do you have a member of your team who has the potential to grow? Do you have a team member who has the passion to take the driving seat in these areas and add value to the strategic direction of the business?
And just to say – not everyone on a board or on a leadership team has to be a practising financial planner or have an ownership stake in the business. In fact, it’s better that they don’t.!
Financial planners make amazing financial planners. But it is effective leadership teams that can change the world.