Speaker 1: This is the Ultimate Advisor Podcast, the podcast for financial advisors who want to create a thriving, successful, and scalable practice. Each week, we'll uncover the ways that you can improve your referrals, your team, your marketing, and your business operations, helping you to level up your advising practice, bring in more assets, and create the advising practice that you've dreamed of. You'll be joined by your hosts, Bryan Sweet, who has more than half a billion dollars in assets under management, Brittany Anderson, the driving force for advisors looking to hire, improve their operations, and company culture, and Draye Redfern, who can help you systematize and automate your practices marketing to effortlessly attract new clients. So what do you say? Let's jump into another amazing episode of the Ultimate Advisor Podcast.
Brittany A.: Brittany Anderson here, alongside Draye Redfern and Bryan Sweet, with your Ultimate Advisor Podcast. So we are into week four of a 12 week series where we're talking about the characteristics of top financial advisors. So for today's episode, we're going to dive into how top advisors tend to be flexible and open to change. So before we get into the people who are flexible and who are open to change, typically, we need to jump back a little bit and look at some of the advisors that have maybe struggled, or even let's take advisors out of the equation and just say entrepreneurs or business owners. So you see oftentimes where somebody who is inflexible are the ones who can't always see the forest through the trees. So it goes back to that mindset of, "I've always done it this way, so I'm always going to do it that way," right, or saying, "Oh, well, I tried that this one time, and it didn't work, so I'm never going to try it again." You have to be open to change. You have to be flexible in your methods.
And to take it a step further, to involve the team dynamic here is a really great mindset when you look at being flexible. You might have, as the primary advisor, as the owner in the firm, as the primary in the firm, a lot of really great ideas. So when I look at a characteristic of a top advisor, when it comes to flexibility, when it comes to being open to change or open to different methodologies, I love it when I see it happen that the advisor says, "Hey, here is a new process that we want to implement in our company." They take that. They give it to the appropriate person. They say, "Here's what it looks like. Here's what the completed version looks like. Here's what I want to see along the way as far as the success criteria or the checklist looks like, but as far as how it's going to happen, that's on you," right? So when you delegate in that way, and you can pass it onto your team members, you need to be flexible with the method. So be strong headed on what the end goal is or what the target is, but be flexible in the methodology.
And I like to equate this particular quote with this whole thought process, and that is that what got you here won't get you there. So when you look at flexibility, and not being adverse to change as a characteristic of a top adviser, they absolutely embrace the idea that, "Hey, we've done a lot of good things to get us to this point, but that means we have to find even better things to get us to our future vision." So because this is a 12 part series, I highly recommend that you go back and listen to the last three episodes because it really leads us up to this point. We talked in the first episode of this series on being a forward thinker, on being big picture focused, and what it means to create your vivid vision for your company. Then in the second episode of this series, we talked about the importance of being long-term greedy, which really means focused on the long term game versus the short term game.
And then last week, this is a good one. You got to hear it. It was all around mindset. It was around the concept of how top advisors typically have a growth mindset. And what that growth mindset provides is the ability to be flexible, the ability to be open to change and to see that there are absolutely new methodologies of getting what you want in your business and in serving your clients in the absolute best way possible. So Draye, I would love to bring you in at this point just because you've seen a lot in regards to marketing, right? So when you look at what you've seen in some of the changes, when you talk about being flexible, when you talk about being open to change, what are the things that you've seen as it relates to our industry on the topic of marketing?
Draye Redfern: So financial advisors as a whole, as a profession, as a niche, in my opinion, are about five to six years behind the curve when it comes to marketing. When it comes to actually creating automations and systems and ways to actually create more leverage points in their business, most are five to six years behind the curve. And I think that's due to a variety of reasons. Number one is that you've got to fight the compliance battle. If you're an RIA, maybe you have a little bit more flexibility, but if you've got a broker dealer, you know what we're talking about as far as oftentimes facing that uphill battle with compliance.
And so as a result of that, what a lot of times what we see is that because compliance can be such a frustrating point, the growth mindset that we talked about in the last episode sort of has almost stagnation where I keep getting told no. I keep getting told no. I keep getting told no until someone else or tens or dozens or hundreds of other people in your niche or industry have finally implemented it, or they got it approved by compliance, or things are going down that rabbit hole. Then they basically hop onboard that bandwagon. And I think that's about a five to six year gap until there is this almost tipping point, as Malcolm Gladwell would call it, of the people jumping onto the bandwagon.
Now, I think that that could sort of be shortcut in a variety of ways. We've talked about this just before we started recording today about what it takes to compliance and constantly just pushing that envelope and innovating. And the worst case scenario is that you may be told no, and compliance, it's their job to stay in their little box. It's their job to think and protect in this little box, and thinking outside of that box can be difficult. And you just have to oftentimes, as the title of this episode, you have to be flexible and open to change and adapt in the way in which you can go about growing this business [inaudible 00:07:07] The solutions that you may actually install, or whatever the scenario is, to actually get to your end goals.
And so that's one thing that I think is really important is no is not always no for forever. I can't say how many times we've been talking with advisors, and compliance says no the first time around and then no the second time around. But if you tweak the end goal or whatever you want to do marketing wise or whatever it is you want to create, there's a yes somewhere on the horizon. It's just a matter of actually getting creative in how you make some of these things happen. So that's the first part. Obviously we want to abide by the rules and the laws and all of these sorts of things, but that's sort of the first thing.
And the second part of that is that from the elite advisors that we see, they're not five to six years behind the curve. They're the ones who actually are finding ways to innovate like we talked about in the last episode with the growth mindset. Now, some things work. Some things don't. But at least if you know it doesn't work, you're going to find out five to six years before a lot of the other advisors who are just catching onto a potentially bad idea later on. And the good ones that you catch onto, well, they're still going to be good, and they're going to be untapped. Whereas five to six years down the line when everyone else in the market is doing the same exact thing, then it becomes saturated. And it's almost like the shiny object that everybody has to do.
And I think that sort of brings to another point there is that there's almost a slight dichotomy that's worth just mentioning is that you want to be open to change, and you want to be open to adaptability, but you also want to be sure to not get caught in shiny object syndrome, that like, "That's a good idea, and that's a good idea, and that's a good idea. Oh that's a great idea. Let's go do this. Let's do that one tomorrow." Then it creates almost stagnation and less growth. If that happens, that's when you have to rely on that really strong second in command to help weed through some of those ideas or systems or concepts or whatever it may be to really get to the crux of the solution that may be the best fit for the organization.
And Brittany, I know we've talked a little bit about in the past of some of the tools that you can use to sort of streamline the ideas and filter the process down a little bit, but it's definitely worth having those systems in place when it comes to being open and adapt to the change while also being very cognizant of not falling into that shiny object syndrome trap.
Brittany A.: Something that we've really embraced at Sweet Financial is some of the strategic coach tools. I mean, I could go through the whole list of them that we use. But really, the whole premise behind them is it helps you to filter some of your best ideas to course correct when you maybe implement something that doesn't go as well as expected to find the silver lining in that and then to help you constantly be in forward motion. So I want to give a real time example of some things that we're seeing in the industry and some interesting commentary we got that actually came from a valuation company. So I think there's a point in bringing this up today and when you look at being flexible, when you look at being open to change.
So when you look at the concept of marketing as a whole in the financial advisory industry, most of the top advisors that we have dealt with, that we see in the industry, that we have some sort of relationship or tie to, most of them have built a very successful business based on one simple thing, and that is referrals. Growing your business by referrals, that's exceptional, right? But at some point, at some point, things slow down a little bit, and it could just be because you've exhausted some of those referral resources. As I've talked about in some of our trainings before, you run into the oopsy referral where it's like, "Whoops, I got a referral. I didn't even have to do anything for it," right? So you see that over and over again in our industry.
But the interesting thing, and again, tying back to this valuation company that we were having conversations with is they actually said, "That's great if you have a referral based business. That's great, right? You're growing still. The problem comes if you're looking to ever sell, when you're looking at turning it over to whoever, whatever your succession plan is, it actually hurts the value of your business by being strictly referral based." So again, looking at being flexible and open to change, you have to have other methodologies of driving business into your company so that you can maximize your value. And I think that it's important because even if some of you are sitting there going, "Hey, I'm still in growth mode. I haven't even put four seconds worth of thought into what the value will be when I sell," that point in time will come. You're going to have to either make the decision that you're going to sell to some outside party, that you're going to groom some of your maybe junior advisors into being partners into later taking over the business. Sometime in the future, that is going to have to be a conversation.
So again, I mentioned earlier that people who are inflexible typically can't see the forest through the trees. So when you're looking at different methodologies, implementing different things into your business, being aware that you need to take chances, you need to try new things, try new methodologies of driving business, try new ways of marketing what you do because marketing can get a little bit of a negative connotation when it's thrown out there. But really, the way I look at it and the way that I know many successful business owners look at it is, "Hey, if I'm not marketing what I do because I know that I offer a darn good service, and I help a lot of people, I'm actually doing this world a disservice because I'm not putting the message out there of who I can help and how I can change their life."
So really, I want you to, as listeners, as our audience, participants, to really think about what is it that you've been doing up to this point to grow your business and what else can you be doing. So just because something has been working all along doesn't mean that there aren't even better ways out there. And Bryan, I think this is a great point for you to jump in because I think you have really modeled an exceptional way of being willing to take healthy risks, not only as an advisor but as an entrepreneur overall. So I'd love for you to talk a little bit about what it means to you to take those healthy risks in business.
Bryan Sweet: Well, thanks, Brittany. I'll put a little different twist on what I think flexible and open to change means that might resonate with some of the advisors on the podcast here. I think another way of thinking about that is how can I do things differently so I stand out. And part of that is just being aware of that. And obviously anytime you do anything new, or you take a risk, or you venture out into uncharted territories, there's no guarantee of success. And if it was that easy, everybody would be in our business, and the competition would be even fiercer .
And so one of the things that I would tell you to do is whatever it might be from client events to automate your marketing, and I will tell you, being in a small town doing things that other people don't do, you really do stand out. Now this maybe doesn't have as much applicability if you're in Chicago or New York City but having that ability to always think, "What are the competitors in my geographic area doing, and how can I do things completely different from them that I stand out?"
And one of the key things that was mentioned earlier is that a lot of times, people will try things, and what happens is it didn't work, so they stop. Well, maybe a better way of doing it than stopping is to say, "What didn't work? And let's try something new." So I call that testing. And so test something new, and if it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, tweak it and keep doing it until we find something that works. And you'd be amazed that by that little change in philosophy, you have to get a word out for a long period of time sometimes before people recognize and endorse what you're doing. So that little thing is just testing things and changing verbiage or how you send out a client event information or how you send out those email messages and the words. All of that stuff is really important.
And then the other big issue with trying new things is always look at and analyze what is this going to save me in time, what is the cost going to be, what's the potential benefit, and have a sheet that you go through. And if you can answer the questions that say, "Oh, the likelihood of this is going to be much better outcome. It's not guaranteed. But based on my analysis and asking myself the proper questions, you'll probably be much more likely to have fewer things fail by doing that."
And I've applied this in several things, so if I hear something new, or I'm experiencing something, I'll give you a couple of examples. Another top advisor and myself run a little symposium, and it's an invitation only for the top 100 financial advisors around the country. And that came about simply because he and I were talking continuously that we'd go to these meetings, and there was never a conference or a seminar we went to where every single topic was meeting and answering questions that are specific to top advisors. So we just finally said, "Well, I guess if we want one, we have to create one."
And the first year, a lot of people believed in us, and we had a great event, but it was by no means perfect. So we sat down and said, "Well, what was it that wasn't perfect?" And we made adjustments. And the second year we did it, just amazing differences. A lot of people said it's the best conference they've ever been to and, "Now, we know more things that we can fix." So if we would've just got frustrated and said, "Everything didn't go perfect," and stopped it, we would have not only affected ourselves but affected a lot of people that felt that this was the best advice and information that they had gotten. And we learn as much as the participants do. So anyway, a couple of examples.
Brittany A.: And I think those are all great examples, and I think there's one common theme that I'm actually chuckling to myself here that keeps coming up is we talk about some of these new ideas, some of these new concepts, trying new things. One thing that popped into my head that I think is really important to ask yourself when you're looking at being flexible, when you look at growing in your business and being a top advisor is, can you answer the question of, when was the last time you tried something and you failed? Okay, so there's question number one. Question number two is, when was the last time that you tried something that had zero guarantee of success?
And if your answer isn't within at least a fairly short period, then it probably means you're not pushing yourself enough, right? You're not really capitalizing on some of the opportunities that are in front of you and some of your talents that probably are not being fully exercised. So I just had to make that comment because I think it's important. When you look at being open to change, sometimes the reason that people are not flexible, sometimes the most successful people that struggle with change, it's not because they're not an amazing individual. It's not because they don't want growth. It's because it's scary, right? When you're trying new things, it's scary putting yourself out there.
So the other thing that I wanted to circle back to you before we rounded this out is that again, we've talked about the different things that you can implement, the different things you can try to push forward. But what we haven't talked about is that in order to change, in order to implement new things in your business, what in the world are you going to stop doing to be able to focus on those key items?
So if you're looking at implementing something new into your company, whether it be a marketing initiative, whether it be something that's client focused, whether it be process driven, whatever it is, if you're looking to make great changes, to make great strides in your business, to try to grow to some exponential amounts, well then, what are you getting rid of? What are you shifting off your plate so that you can go do those things that really drive you, that get you hungry, that get you excited? So I want you to identify what the things are that you can stop doing so that you can free up some time and you can really work to challenge yourself. So before we round out with our top takeaways from today's episode, again, like always, Bryan, Draye, anything else that you would like to add today?
Draye Redfern: I think that there's a lot to unpack in this one, and I think it's really just important to realize that everyone's definition of flexibility is going to be different. Just to use a physical example, some people can touch their toes. Other people can't. Other people can do a backbend. Other people can't. And those same sort of ideas apply in business. But I think it's just the idea, and again, closely relating to our last episode, just be open to that mindset of flexibility and the idea of changing, and as Bryan said a few episodes ago of just, I believe, finding comfort in uncomfortability maybe was the quote. Maybe I botched it, but just really becoming more in tune with that I think is a great reminder for all of us.
Brittany A.: No, I think that's great. So let's round this out here. Number one biggest takeaway today is embrace the concept. Put this on a Post-it Note, stick it to your computer screen, get a little plaque, something, embrace the concept of what got you here won't get you there. Understand that when you're looking at embracing the characteristics of a top advisor, it's important to stretch yourself and to understand that you have done amazing things. You've done great things in the past, and there are even more things, even more excitement, coming in your future that you can absolutely capitalize on to grow your business.
The second takeaway I would love for our audience members to do is to create a stop doing list in order to free you up to be flexible. To implement some of the changes to stay current in our industry, you've got to let go of some of the things that are weighing you down. So that list can be really simple to get started. You can just jot down some of the things that are zapping your energy that feel like more of a task, more of a challenge in a negative way versus a positive challenge. Write those things down and then start figuring out who can take those over within your company.
And the last tip from today's episode is to answer the question, when was the last time you tried something that had no guarantee for success? Answer that question. If you can't come up with a recent answer, then our challenge to you would be to do something immediately. Put yourself out there, put yourself out there in a way that really gets you uncomfortable. We talked, Bryan mentioned in a couple episodes back, about how he has fully embraced the concept of getting comfortable being uncomfortable. I challenge you to embrace that as well because some of the top advisors that we have contact with, the characteristics of them, it leads into next week's episode where we're going to talk about how they are self-motivated to be able to take on those challenges, and they embrace self-confidence wholly. So we'll see you right here next week on the Ultimate Advisor Podcast.
Draye Redfern: Hey there, Draye Redfern here, and before you go, we just wanted to say thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Ultimate Advisor Podcast. If you enjoy this episode, then please subscribe to the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify, and be sure to rate us five stars on iTunes because when you do, you'll be entered into a monthly drawing for our Ultimate Advisor Coaching Program, which is a $2,000 value. And if you would like to access more of the show notes, additional resources, and our free premium content, then please visit ultimateadvisorpodcast.com. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Ultimate Advisor Podcast. We'll see you there.