In an environment of inflation, a possible recession, uncertainties in the economic and political spheres, people are looking for expert advice. Mr Tim Gerend, Chief Distribution Officer and EVP at Northwestern Mutual, says this is an ideal moment for financial advisers to make a game plan for accelerating or potentially transforming your careers.
The puzzle pieces of personal life, work life and values fit together differently for each individual, but there are some universal principles that can speed your progress this year — no matter what success looks like to you:
Level up the client experience
If you want to grow and compete for the next generation of clients and help them get the best outcomes, it is a must to consistently up the ante on client experience. Clients want confidence and expect convenience. Is there a digital tool that you have, but are not using to its fullest potential? What do your best clients value most and what do they want less of? Think about incremental ways you can improve and modernise the experience for your clients.
Get out of your comfort zone
It is human nature to do what we are good at and remain fixated on that process indefinitely. After all, it works, so why fix something that isn’t broken? Advisers who have built their practices around a certain model or product offering are missing a big opportunity to serve clients more holistically. No doubt – it takes concerted effort to acquire the expertise and infrastructure needed to provide truly comprehensive advice. But there is a big payoff for you and your clients if you can overcome that inertia. What one thing have you been avoiding that could be delivering more value for your clients?
Expand your network
Most people’s networks reflect themselves. We gravitate toward what we know and what we are comfortable with. But that can limit the level of opportunity and enrichment our networks provide. It is also a key barrier to diversifying our industry, which we know is so critical to our future growth and success. Make an effort to connect with different groups in your community in the year ahead. You may be surprised at the benefits you reap, both personally and professionally.
Get comfortable with ambiguity
While many things have thankfully normalised since the height of the pandemic, the ripple effects keep coming – from cultural shifts like more flexible work arrangements to the economic repercussions we face today. Uncertainty is not going away any time soon, making it critical to roll with the punches. This might sound easier said than done, but there are things you can do to avoid the paralysis of uncertainty. Focus on what you can control. Be a person of action, not a person of worry. And focus on strengthening ties with your team, family and broader community. Connection with others provides a sense of security and grounding. Avoid naysayers and hyper negative sources of news and information (no doomscrolling!).
Follow your values
The barriers between personal and professional life are blurring. It is hard to be one person at work and another at home. If your current work reality does not square with the values you want to uphold personally, what would have to change to bring things into harmony? It could be changing roles, changing companies or even changing careers. These are not moves to be made lightly, but the personal and professional rewards that come from feeling connected to something bigger than yourself are hard to understate.
As we journey forward in 2023, advisers and team members are encouraged to set aside time to take stock and set your sights on what you want to achieve in the months ahead. Don’t feel as if you have to do everything. Embracing just one or two of these principles can have a meaningful impact on your career.
This is an abridged version of an article which appeared on Investment News.