The Two Most Important Skills

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After thirty years of training and coaching in the Financial Service industry, I have learned that two skills stand out as the most important to the success of any advisor and their practice. Not knowing these skills can not be held against them because they are not taught the skills by their firms and only a few ever discover the great importance of the skills, master them, and rise to the elite ranks of the Chairman’s and Director’s clubs. 

Every practice must contend with two time frames that are vital to success. The present, full of its myriad distractions, and the future, where the hope of greater success always resides. The past no longer exists, but for too many it remains a constant interference. Advisors who place the past in its proper sphere as tutor, and learn it’s lessons, are able to concentrate time and effort in the work of understanding the present and preparing for the future. 

Each of these two times frames corresponds to a specific aspect of a financial practice. The present is handled by the Consulting and Relationship Management  division of your business. The future is the focus of the Administration and Operation division. Whether a practice is managed by a large team or a single advisor, both divisions must be in operation. Even though an advisor’s primary focus is the present, they must place as much attention on the future and this becomes the problem. 

Immoderate attention on the present leaves a practice open to be blindsided by changes in the world around them. Excessive focus on the future undermines a practice from within. Though an advisor should delegate as much as possible, the skills necessary to balance the present and future must reside in their own toolbox, otherwise the team will flounder. 

A practice must protect and grow client assets and reduce risk in the present, that is the purpose of Consulting and Relationship Management. Simultaneously, they must prepare and plan for the future changes necessary to steer the practice through obstacles ahead, that is the purpose of Administration and Operation. 

The present and the markets are not intuitive, otherwise everyone would be successful investing and avoid the losses that frequently occur. For this reason only advisors who master the art of thinking Counter-Intuitively succeed in the present and the markets. 

At the same time, change is a constant and requires continuous adaptation, otherwise you could keep doing things the same way forever. Those who do not change eventually discover their mistake. An advisor must future-proof their practice or risk being blindsided or left behind. 

Your ability to think counter-intuitively in the present and adapt and change your practice in the future, will allow you to exceed your client expectations in the present and also future-proof your practice for what lies ahead.