In today’s world, being knowledgeable about the latest financial products isn’t enough. Your community and clients expect more from you. They want you to lead them to financial security. In fact, you’ll find that you play the role of a psychologist as much as you are an incredible financial advisor. This is precisely why we’re going to cover seven extraordinary leadership strategies that will help you differentiate yourself and win more financial clients. Let’s get started.
1. Create And Share Your Leadership Vision
Jonathan Swift nailed it when he said, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” This insight is because you have accumulated knowledge from seeing certain situations occur, possibly multiple times. Like Neo in the Matrix, you can see what’s coming before it happens and react.
We all know that one of the biggest challenges consumers face today is uncertainty about their future. Fear of the unknown can lead to analysis paralysis and cause indecision. This procrastination can lead to a retirement disaster. Yet, can you really blame them? With all of the conflicting “expert” opinions circulating around, it’s virtually impossible to sort out fact from fiction. This lack of clear-cut visible direction means most consumers are misguided, confused, or even lost.
This is where you come in as a financial advisor… because where’s there’s a challenge; there’s also an opportunity.
You can motivate people to act by providing them with an inspirational vision of their future, a clear picture for them to see. You have an opportunity to help people realize that money is a tool that can be used strategically to help them enjoy retirement. They don’t have to live in fear. You can be their beacon of hope… their north star.
But, to be a true north star for people, you can’t think too small. You need to challenge yourself to share this life-changing vision with your entire community. Use effective marketing strategies, such as dinner seminar events, educational workshops, webinars, blog posts, YouTube channels, and more. These help to reach, engage, and connect with as many consumers as possible. As you implement these strategies, you’ll also transform yourself into an industry leader.
Be proactive, purposeful, and passionate in sharing your vision, and you’ll find that more and more people in your community will look to you for your guidance and leadership.
2. Leadership Requires Authenticity And Trustworthiness
You want people to buy into and follow your vision. But they’ll need to first believe that you’re a financial expert who genuinely has their best interest at heart. And not someone looking to take advantage of them. In other words, you’ll need to earn their trust.
While your knowledge of financial products, tax laws, estate planning solutions, and strategies may be unmatched, this education will only take you so far. The fact is, your industry intelligence alone won’t be enough to earn people’s trust.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to be wholeheartedly authentic in your approach. This will help consumers like and trust you. This happens to be another one of Dr. Cialdini’s seven principles of persuasion – Liking. After all, there’s a reason we’ve all heard the saying, “People do business with people they like and trust.”
Now, it’s easy to be calm, cool, and collected when things are going well, but it’s an entirely different ballgame when they’re not. Don’t believe me? Just think back to the euphoric feeling shared by most advisors and investors during the late ‘90s when the markets soared due to incredible dot-com valuations. Or again in the early 2000s when real estate and mortgage-backed securities caused another “magical” market run. EVERYONE was a genius at investing… until they weren’t.
When the world seems to be collapsing around them, consumers make emotional and irrational decisions. As we witnessed time and time again – in 2001 when the dot-com bubble burst, in 2007 when the housing market collapsed, and most recently when the markets plunged due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. People felt uneasy, uncertain, scared, and some even panicked.
This tremendous uncertainty caused a lot of people to make terrible decisions with their money. Some even ruined their retirement. People could’ve used an honest, emotionally-strong financial services leader to calm their nerves and guide them. But, the reality is that a lot of advisors lacked the leadership skills and trust necessary to prevent their clients from making these mistakes.
With that said, it’s no surprise that most people want a leader who doesn’t waver when things don’t go as planned. Open and honest communication is vital to keeping your clients’ trust, but it takes time and constant effort to build strong relationships.
3. Learn And Apply Emotional Intelligence
While being authentic and self-aware will help you garner trust, being empathetic and compassionate will accelerate the process. People often make decisions when their emotions are activated. Truly understanding and appreciating how they feel at a particular moment can be the difference between generating an emotional connection, causing action, and helping them positively transform their lives. Or losing momentum altogether.
How can you do this? Offer examples of how you helped other people navigate similar challenges. Not only do these personal anecdotes help people feel comfortable, but they also leverage another Cialdini influence principle – Social Proof. These reviews are just as valuable as those appearing on purchasing sites like Amazon. These relevant client stories demonstrate that you grasp their situation, have the experience to help, and provide confirmation that they’re making a sound choice.
4. Leadership Means Being Consistent And Dependable
Since garnering trust is essential in acquiring new clients, we’re going to explore a powerful yet easy way to earn it. Follow Larry Winget’s advice, “Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, in the way you said you were going to do it.” While the concept is simple, many businesses struggle to meet deadlines and deliver what they committed. This offers you another opportunity to shine.
In addition, consistently delivering on your promises and commitments proves that you are dependable. This reliability increases the likelihood that consumers trust you. You become their rock when they need solid ground, their leader when they need guidance.
5. Show Leadership by Giving Graciously
So far, we’ve covered how to inspire people and gain trust. But now we’re going to discuss one of the single most powerful leadership traits and persuasion principles – Reciprocity. Giving someone your time, something valuable, or something personal, with no strings attached, demonstrates your commitment to the relationship. At the same time, it activates a feeling of importance for the person on the receiving end. And while there is no obligation for them to reciprocate, it’s human nature for them to feel obligated to return the favor. There are numerous examples that highlight the effectiveness of this approach.
Consider that this incredible psychological phenomenon is a HUGE reason why more than 40 million consumers have attended dinner seminar events all around the country over the last 25 years. Most financial advisors hosting dinner seminars approach their events from the position of a community leader.
They deliver valuable content, volunteer their time, and provide a fine-dining experience for their guests. All with no obligation of receiving anything in return. While they may not expect consumers to return their generosity, Dr. Cialdini’s rule of reciprocity helps play a significant role in producing amazing results for these advisors. In fact, most financial professionals report an average return on investment of between 200% and 800% when using this marketing strategy. So it works!
Joe Girard, Guinness World Record holder for being the greatest salesman in the world, executed this beautifully when he sent each of his clients a personal letter every month. He made people feel special by remembering them on major holidays and on their birthdays. But what truly set Joe apart was that he didn’t try to sell anything during the process. Inside each card, all he wrote was a brief personal note, “I like you.” Clearly, his approach worked because the results speak for themselves.
The books “Giftology” by John Ruhlin and “The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk also cover some fantastic tips for successfully using the rule of reciprocity to become a community leader. If your goal is to build lasting relationships with people, giving them your time, offering them personal attention, and delivering unexpected experiences can make all the difference.
6. Utilize Flexible Creativity To Serve
You may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge from years in the business. You may have encountered nearly every situation imaginable. However, there will come a time when you’re presented with something new and unpredictable. It’s at this point that your clients will look to you to come up with creative solutions for their problems. Identifying and finding solutions is an underrated talent. Even more rare is the ability to develop and implement innovative solutions to these complex problems.
“It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.” – Tim Ferriss
Having the experience to develop a winning financial strategy is a fantastic leadership skill. Yet, it won’t differentiate you from other financial advisors. These days, most advisors have access to the same or similar financial products, technology, and resources as you do. You need to be innovative in your approach and separate yourself from the pack.
Now, when you can offer a truly unique approach or solution, you activate another psychological phenomenon called scarcity. This persuasion principle states that people want more of what they can’t have. We have to look no further than the recent toilet paper shortage caused by the global pandemic to see the power of scarcity.
Whether you leverage new technology, new approaches, or use proven solutions in new ways, flexibility and creativity are important for your success.
7. Leaders Communicate Clearly And Concisely
Lastly, we’re going to discuss communication. As you might have noticed by now, effective communication plays a role in every topic we’ve covered. Leadership requires words that elicit emotion, stimulate action, and paint pictures in people’s minds. Without possessing this ability, it’s nearly impossible to be a successful leader.
With that said, communication is as much an art as it is a science. Include too much detail, and consumers tune out or get confused. Include too little detail, and people remain unengaged. Developing clear, concise messaging can be challenging. When you master it, you’ll be able to change minds, change beliefs, and change lives.
Leadership is often viewed as the link between employers and employees, but it can be so much more. As a financial advisor, you can lead your clients and your community away from fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Now, the journey won’t always be easy. And sometimes you’ll need to work on yourself before you can help others. But make that commitment because you have an opportunity to lead people toward a better vision, financial security, and peace of mind. You can make a difference or even transform their lives… and that’s truly special.
About the Author
Jerry Lanier is the Vice President of Financial Sales at LeadingResponse. For more than 16 years, he has made it his passion to help consumers navigate life’s most challenging financial decisions by connecting them with financial professionals. At the same time, he helps those advisors achieve sustainable growth by uncovering additional revenue, profits, and missed opportunities.