Too much, too soon? When success becomes a curse

There’s good success and bad success but all success comes with strings attached.

For financial advisers, the biggest challenge with success is increased activity.

Not only does success draw in new clients but existing client work typically also increases.

The result is a lot more activity and many, many more hours in the office – often without an equal uplift in revenue. Success is commonly the death knell of work/life balance.

Holidays become a time and place to fall in a heap before returning to face more dreaded success. A momentary break from the treadmill of growing client and staff expectations, more meetings, supplier issues and financial pressures.

At first, success may be rewarding. Your competitors, colleagues and clients will certainly be impressed but what is the purpose of all this activity? What are you working towards?  

If you’re after greater freedom, quality of life, enjoyment and control of your future, success may not deliver that.

Of course you could hire more staff but ironically that often leads to more headaches. They need management, training, direction, and quality communication due to every team member. The new less experienced naturally take longer and are not as proficient at the work than those delegating meaning they’ll be quickly swamped by the activity wave without the desired ‘release’ the new resources were hired to attend to.

What to do?

You’re too cheap…

Lift fees.

Lose more bids.

A conversation I recently had with an adviser inspired this blog. This adviser had only lost a couple of clients in the last two years which she “didn’t want to lose”. Something is wrong here I think to myself.

(This adviser personally has about 80 clients. Her firm manages about 250.)

After gulping down her third cup of coffee of the morning, she ran off to another meeting with another one of her fly-in-fly-out clients, who she assured me was very happy with her service and advice.

My response was that she should be “losing” about a third of all new clients and about one fifth of all existing clients “that she didn’t want to lose” every year because she can’t be everything to everyone.

She didn’t like that advice.

I wasn’t trying to impress her but rather assess if we could work together to achieve a sustainable and funded success which is vastly different to the kind of success she is experiencing now.

In my position, I meet a lot of ‘successful’ advisers but only a handful of successful business people.

Business is all about understanding priorities, sticking to the essentials and accepting you can’t be all things to everyone.

After all, respect is far more important than popularity.

What do you reckon?


About Jim Stackpool

For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.

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