After Ann Hughes took over a struggling annuities wirehouse division, she learned six lessons about loyalty and success that every financial advisor can apply to their practice.

Hughes took over as a national sales manager at the ING in 2007, as 1/3 of the wholesalers had left the team in the previous six months and morale was very low, Hughes, who now serves as the founder of the Female Affect, told the audience of the Women Advisors Forum in Dallas on Tuesday.

What Hughes did next is something she said that every advisor can also do with their clients: she had a meeting with wholesalers to find out what was on their mind and she presented her plan.

“I treated my wholesalers as clients, and I told them we were in it together,” Hughes said. “Their success was my success.”

The ultimate result was that the wholesalers stopped leaving, sales went up and the division was able to improve its national ranking in several years.

Hughes said that she took away six key lessons from that experience that all financial advisors can learn:

  • Show people you genuinely care
  • Make your expectations clear, and have high standards for those around you
  • Create a plan you believe in, and work the plan
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Don’t give up
  • Your reputation is everything as you continue to grow your business

In looking back on her career so far, Hughes said she also wishes she had worked to help more fellow women get ahead. She encouraged more female financial advisors in the audience to advocate for their own success.
Hughes remembered speaking with a female financial advisor who was relatively inexperienced when she joined her three-person team, but ultimately became the top producer. Even with  her performance, that advisor was reluctant to ask for a higher payout, given the loyalty she had to her team members who had helped her get her start.

“If you don’t ask for your worth and what you deserve, who’s going to give it to you?” Hughes said.