How Greater Happiness Generates Higher Profitability for Top Advisors

by Shirley Hanson

Picture this Stagnate and Unhappy Financial Advisory Practice

When the markets stumble and stagger, your clients become fearful and take money out of the markets. A big client pulls his assets from you.

You are adding only a sluggish trickle of new clients. You take what you can get, but few are ideal.

Your communications with clients are sparse and ineffective. You spend too much time babysitting with anxious, worried, even hostile clients.

Referrals to your firm have become few and far between.

For many clients you are not their only advisor.  You have only a small share of their wealth — the rest they spread to other advisors.


So what makes the difference between this portrait of gloom and a Happy and Growing Practice?

Happiness pierces to the core of your achievements at work.

In our article “What Research Says Is Your Greatest Competitive Advantage,” we quote Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage:

“It is smart to be happy.  In fact, happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.”  The article is Here.

Enter Robert Waldinger, current director of the longest study on happiness, the 75-year (and continuing) Harvard Study of Adult Development.

The study followed 724 men year after year.  As Waldinger revealed in his TED talk, the study tracked a group of Harvard sophomores, starting in 1938, along with a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

Every two years they fill out questionnaires, participate in extensive interviews, make their medical records available and undergo additional medical tests.

In addition, study participants are videotaped revealing their deepest concerns.

What was discovered in the tens of thousands of pages generated for the 75-year study? It’s not about wealth, fame, or making a mark in your career.

Waldinger said, “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

More from Waldinger and his report on the key findings is Here.

If “good relationships keep us healthier and happier” and

if “happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage,”

Then, Here’s How You Can Benefit with Happiness at the Center of Your Financial Advisory Practice

We Invite You to Take Advantage of These 5 Vital Sources of Advisor Happiness and Growth

1 – You See New Money from Existing Clients Even When Markets Are Unruly and Uncertain

Here’s how:  You gain trust and create confidence by promoting a consistent message in harmony with your actions.

Since we began to work with him about 7 years ago, Chris’ messages to his clients and prospects have been unswerving. There is no doubt who he is, where he stands, and how he manages money.

As the S&P 500 dipped 11% in the final week in August in 2015, Chris and his team called clients to offer “a listening ear and allow them to unpack any fear they might have.” What they received instead was “an unruffled and loving response.”

As Chris summed up their experience, “Our clients did not panic while the rest of the world was selling.  In fact, some clients used the market drop to move money into the markets.

2 – You Achieve Happier Clients and Grow Profits by Tapping Into the Potential of CRM and Other Front-Office Technologies

In an interview for InvestmentNews Sheryl Rowling of Rowling & Associates focuses on technology as a means to happier clients. Raising efficiency through time-saving technologies such as its customer relationship management system takes client service to a high level.

Her firm is “all about automating functions so its people are free to do what they need to do — meet with clients and strategize.”

“Keeping clients happy,” she said, “is key to keeping profit growing.”

Shawn Achor agrees, “Our research found that greater positive connection with others is a better predictor of happiness and profitability than collective IQ and years of experience”

3 – Your Clients Trust You

Trust takes time to build and requires consistency and openness.

To develop trust don’t keep your fees a secret.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and State Street Global Advisors addresses enhancing client relationships. This study makes the connection between coming across as trustworthy and being direct in your discussion of fees.

Talk about fees early in the relationship.

A top advisor reassures prospects and reminds clients about how he “controls and minimizes investment costs. There are fees that clients aren’t aware of,” he explains to them. “If we screen right, we can squeeze these out.”

Follow up by putting fees in writing so that prospects don’t later become confused or uncertain.

Take a deeper dive into trust in our article “5 Tools to Help You Build Trust Now” here.    

4 – You Gain a Heartening Flow of New Ideal Clients

The emphasis here is on “ideal clients”. . . not just any clients.

Who is your ideal audience?  Be specific and be smart. Your answers are essential for getting into your Growth Groove.

Accelerate the power of your marketing by clearly identifying your audience.  Know their social statistics (demographics) such as age, gender, location, etc.  Grasp their psychological traits (psychographics).  For instance, what are they afraid of?  It could be fear of today’s wobbly world economic situation.

You want to key in on their personality.  Will they be difficult to work with?

There are numerous ways to conduct research. The simple way is to just ask.  That means identifying clients you especially appreciate working with — ones you would like to duplicate. Then talk with them to uncover precisely what they want from you.

The happiness you and your team feel from working with more and more of your “ideal clients” will reverberate into the future for the greater growth of your practice.

5 – You Prompt Referrals from New and Existing Clients and Target COIs

Referrals can arrive from clients and friends, complementary wealth management professionals, or those already marketing and selling to your prospects.

What must they know about you to make a referral?  They must be able to answer Dan Kennedy’s famous question: “Why would anyone do business with your firm over everyone else in your field?”

Your answer can take many forms.  Sometimes you have only a few seconds or a limited space to grab attention.  Then, your answer is a concise phrase like a verbal logo.  You could tie your specialness, for example, to a specific audience, your exceptional process, or your unique solution.

But suppose you have more time to unfold your story.

Brooke Southall, writing about RIAs here describes specialness like this: “RIAs are like snowflakes reflecting infinite varieties of clienteles, local cultures, sophistication and personalities, levels of wealth and philosophies. Yet they hew to a handful of banal descriptions about who they are and what they do.”

Snowflakes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Selected as one of the top 5 financial advisors nationally by Research magazine in 2010, Mitchell Kauffman is a “snowflake.”

He creates a framework for his differentiation by asking and answering questions like these: “Why do clients choose to work with us?” Then, he offers nine reasons, including his core values, business beliefs, planning process, mission, and  “services to make your dreams a reality.”

Become a “snowflake” and grow with referrals.

I’d like to close with a quote from Robert Waldinger: “The good life is built with good relationships.

And so it is for financial advisors.


About Shirley Hanson

Co-Author "Marketing Power for Financial Advisors"
In 1991 Shirley Hanson co-founded the Hanson Marketing Group, a direct marketing firm. Since 2005 she has focused her work on helping financial advisors take advantage of the same strategies and tactics that high-growth firms count on year after year. Advisors are able to attract more of their ideal clients, reach a Category of One, and raise their production. She collaborates with advisors to unlock their vision for their practice sooner with less hassle.

Contact Shirley
Phone: 215-753-2620 | Fax: 215-754-4165
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