6 traits of exceptional financial advisors
6 traits of exceptional financial advisors
Advisor, keynote speaker, and author Frank Leyes invested a year interviewing successful advisors for his book “Shaping the Future: 6 Ways Exceptional Advisors Transform Financial Futures.” He shares six key traits that “exceptional advisors” exhibit in their practices and client relationships.
Frank A. Leyes is the founder and president of Frank A. Leyes & Associates, a full-service wealth-management and advisory firm with offices in Roanoke, Virginia, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mr. Leyes has earned the professional designation of Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and is an active member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP). In addition to managing his core practice, Mr. Leyes is a frequent keynote speaker for advisor groups. He has also developed a “mastermind” program for advisors and authored three books.
He says, “One of the most important aspects of my professional life—in addition to serving the needs of our firm’s clients—is the great satisfaction and personal growth I have been able to find in being able to interact with, learn from, and share knowledge with many dedicated professionals in the financial advisory field.”
As part of this philosophy, Mr. Leyes invested a year interviewing successful advisors for his second book, “Shaping the Future: 6 Ways Exceptional Advisors Transform Financial Futures.”
Mr. Leyes cites as one of the inspirations for his book the collaboration of Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill in the early 1900s. Carnegie challenged Hill to interview dozens of the most successful business leaders of the time, resulting in the classic book “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937. It is considered one of the most influential books ever produced in the area of personal and professional development.
In “Shaping the Future,” Mr. Leyes brings a similar effort to the financial advisory field.
In the book, Mr. Leyes offers a comprehensive discussion of six traits that characterize successful advisors, along with illustrative anecdotes and practical examples and exercises to help other financial advisors in developing these skills. He has discovered and summarized how “exceptional advisors” have built their businesses, communicate effectively, leverage systems and technology, adapt through regulatory changes, and build teams that can transform the financial futures of their clients.
Mr. Leyes notes, “As Anthony Robbins often says, ‘success leaves clues.’ … There is excellence among us, and we can all benefit from the sharing of this excellence. This was the motivation behind this book: to discover what the best advisors do and then to share it with the advisor community.”
Each chapter of “Shaping the Future” presents an in-depth discussion of the traits Mr. Leyes believes take financial advisors from ordinary to extraordinary. Mr. Leyes offers presentations on the book to advisor groups and industry organizations, which are excerpted here.
1. Lead with convictions
Mr. Leyes says that one of the most important attributes that clients look for in an advisor is leadership, especially in times “when convictions are being tested.” He notes that this is especially important in today’s information-saturated world that is full of conflicting messages. Advisors who possess strong core beliefs, and communicate them effectively, will more likely be seen as highly effective stewards of their clients’ hard-earned resources and, ultimately, their financial futures.
2. Communicate with elegant simplicity
Mr. Leyes says that exceptional advisors are almost universally exceptional communicators with their clients. A major element of this is developing the skill to deliver important—and often complex—financial concepts in a concise and user-friendly fashion. He cites a well-known quote from Albert Einstein, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
Mr. Leyes says,
3. Engage personally through the power of story
Mr. Leyes believes that “Story is a lever that moves in ways mere words, statistics, or other industry jargon can never touch.”
He uses the example of a typical discovery meeting with a new client, where exceptional advisors have perfected the art of engagement through sharing their own stories and, in turn, drawing out the client’s most influential life experiences, current concerns, and aspirations for the future. He says these advisors can structure a conversation that goes to the heart of a client’s life and their finances, becoming almost like “financial biographers.”
4. Systematize and streamline every area of business
Mr. Leyes says one of the most important lessons he learned in his interviews with exceptional advisors was that “leverage comes about through simplicity.”
Mr. Leyes notes, “In our quest to be accessible everywhere all the time, we are never fully invested or present anywhere.” Many exceptional advisors, he has found, took a path to the next level in their business by consciously seeking ways to simplify their everyday lives as financial advisors.
5. Leverage the power of unique teamwork
Mr. Leyes says that many exceptional advisors surround themselves with people who have strengths in areas where they may not have the greatest strengths themselves. They build and empower teams that can execute in a coordinated and complementary fashion.
Finding those unique individuals to join the team is a skill set in and of itself, as is the ability to “give up control to get control.” When an excellent team is assembled that works well together and becomes more than the sum of its parts, he believes it should not really be viewed “as an expense.”
6. Commit to lifelong learning
Mr. Leyes says that a common thread among exceptional advisors is a commitment to lifelong learning. This, he says, goes far beyond attending mandatory compliance sessions and continuing education sessions. There is something in the DNA of leaders in the industry that “makes them open to new ways of improving their businesses, themselves, and the quality of their lives.”
“Shaping the Future” not only expands upon this concept, but it also outlines many of the resources and best practices that Mr. Leyes has discovered and believes can offer great value to advisors’ personal and professional growth.
Mr. Leyes offers the following concluding thoughts,
Editor’s note: Proactive Advisor Magazine would like to thank Frank Leyes for permission in excerpting his book, “Shaping the Future: 6 Ways Exceptional Advisors Transform Financial Futures”, and presentations for this article. Mr. Leyes also has developed and leads an advisor-only forum dedicated to the sharing of ideas and best practices, “Advisor Mastery.”
David Wismer is editor of Proactive Advisor Magazine. Mr. Wismer has deep experience in the communications field and content/editorial development. He has worked across many financial-services categories, including asset management, banking, insurance, financial media, exchange-traded products, and wealth management.
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