June 18, 2013
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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We recently rebranded our firm and made a large investment in how we communicate our value proposition – “our story.” We want to teach our staff how to tell the story in a similar fashion, but allow each person the chance to tell it their own way. How do we accomplish this?
Jim B., New York
This is a great question and I wish more advisors would ask it! Even firms that have a well-established story will often find no one tells it consistently or they assume everyone knows it and can tell it well. Here are a few ideas to ensure that everyone understands the key message, but is able to tell it in their own voice:
- Have someone from outside of the firm interview all your advisors, and make notes of the top three key points that people raise. Compare the notes. Are most advisors talking about the same core things, but in a different way? Or are they talking about what sounds like different stories? Someone outside who has no predispositions will be useful in this effort.
- Have each advisor do a mock presentation to the rest of your team. Get everyone in a conference room and have the advisors present the story. This seems forced, but it is a good way to hear how they will tell it to those who know what it should be.
- Join them in a live presentation. Accompany an advisor to meet with a prospect or client. Listen to what they say and how they say it. This is the best way to hear firsthand how the story is delivered.
- Offer your advisors presentation training so they can learn how to communicate with confidence. If your story is well defined, the next step is making sure your staff is confident in delivering it.
I work alongside my brother in our advisory practice. We get along well enough and have our defined areas of expertise. Our problem is our wives – they truly do not like one another. My sister-in-law is a big-wig in our local community and is asked to lots of functions, but she won’t include us because she doesn’t want my wife to attend. It’s bad for business. My brother has tried talking to her but to no avail. Is there a way to get her to like my wife and include us in these events so we can meet the wealthy people there, too?
Dear Financial Advisor,
Small business plus family involvement can equal disaster. This is the classic situation that happens in far too many successful small family businesses (and large ones, too!).
The family dynamics are at play and you have a relationship with your brother to consider, but the broken relationships around you are wreaking havoc on you and potentially your business. You are losing opportunity because of your sister-in-law’s actions. You don’t say much about your wife’s role in this, but assuming she is willing to work this out, here are a few options:
- Invite your brother and his wife out to dinner so the four of you together can try to solve the problem. Explain that the business – and potentially everyone’s livelihood – is at stake so you want to establish clear roles and boundaries. See if, in a more casual setting, you can work together to find some solutions. Sometimes people like your sister-in-law just want to show how powerful they are and keep control, but working together may allow her to accomplish this and still reach a good conclusion for the practice overall.
- If you don’t think you can get this done over drinks and dinner, hire a family-business mediator. There are people who specialize in this and help separate out what’s business-related and what’s family baggage that doesn’t belong in the workplace.
- Split the business development efforts entirely. Let your sister-in-law run her events, and you find other ways to grow the business. Rather than tag-on to her events, create your own opportunities.
- Lastly, it sounds as if your brother has tried talking to her but maybe you or your wife need to reach out one-to-one and understand her motives a little better. Sometimes there is no rationale to people’s behavior but more often there is something behind it if we can spend the time listening and learning.
This is a tough situation but it’s not unworkable. Good luck!
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.
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