Roughly, just one in 10 brokers that my firm has spoken to or placed in the past year has enjoyed significant growth in 2009. Top-line, growth-oriented advisors and managers see a few common themes of those who have gotten it right.
The good old days of a hands-off manager are gone. Over the years I can't tell you how many times I have heard an advisor say something along the lines of: "My manager is great, he leaves me alone."
Well, a lot of those managers have been relieved of their duties through consolidation of offices and companies this past year. When survival of the fittest comes into play, so does the dynamic manager.
If you are not sitting down the hall from one of these dynamic guys, do yourself a favor and go find one. In a world that hates Wall Street, you need someone in your corner who can act as a great coach, mentor, leader, motivator, trainer and advocate.
A complex manager in the Northeast, Jeff, currently has more than 300 advisors in his five offices. When I asked him what he views as the important trends in this industry in today's lean times, he answered immediately: "Coaches."
Jeff says that many financial advisors are hiring expert career coaches to help navigate their business through the tough times. One of his advisors who's been a flat, $500,000 producer for the last six years or so, increased his numbers in 2009 by 25%.
His broker gives most of the credit to the good ideas and overall business plan he and his career coach came up with. Jeff went on to indicate that if you have an interest in going down this route, it pays to talk to your branch manager about it. Most of the good ones will try and help you pay for it, or come up with a group to share the cost.
Another observation that Jeff made is that most of his largest financial advisors are on teams. The biggest and best growth-oriented teams have fine-tuned each member's role to help navigate and prosper from other's strengths. I see this in my own office. While my recruiters aren't necessarily on official teams, they all share in the company profit-sharing plan.
Each week I speak with at least 30 or so candidates my recruiters are dealing with in a team approach. I have noticed a significant rise in the amount of top deals closed since I began doing this last quarter.
And just as the lower-end producers are alone in Jeff's offices, the recruiters who don't utilize my expertise bill less than the ones that do.
John is in his mid-50s and has been in the business for 23 years. Two of his three kids are in college, while his only daughter is out, but getting married in June. Needless to say, recession or not, John has got some serious bills to pay.
In 2009, his $500,000 book rose to $643,000. In a time where most are lucky to stay afloat, John has done very well. He attributes the additional business to longer hours and a revamped marketing approach.
First off, John met with his manager early last year to discuss various methods to get more referrals. Since his book is primarily made up of older clients, he started marketing himself to their children. While some may suggest they also do this, John worked tirelessly on the weekends for over half the year. A Saturday or Sunday afternoon for a couple hours has paid off.
Furthermore, most of the referrals and clients were pleasantly surprised because they had a bit more time to focus on what John wanted to discuss on the weekend than they would have on a weeknight. There aren't too many professions out there where you can take home an extra $50,000 a year for just four more hours of work a week.
Here's one more anecdote. During the first half of 2009 when fear was palpable, and the thought of complete meltdown felt as though it may become a reality, the strains and stress of guiding clients was enough to rock even the most tenured advisors. During those dark days, Don found himself not only working around the clock to ease investor fears, but was in the midst of a transition out of one fallen brokerage house to a new firm.