A recent call with our coaches was quite revealing. We were discussing changes in affluent priorities and everyone agreed the professional role, advisor-client and coach-advisor, have become holistic—we’re all dealing with a never ending stream of external impact factors. We then shifted gears toward how financial advisors were adapting to the reality of our new worldon a personal level.

As the discussion evolved, Greg Blackwell, one of our coaches, shared an exercise he was using with advisors that I thought was brilliant. As I share this exercise, my hope is that it has a similar impact on you as it did with me.

The exercise begins with reviewing your successes of 2021. So go ahead and reflect on the past year and all that went well in your business. The idea here is to zero in on the positives. We tend to focus only on major accomplishments, but we have numerous mini-positives—little wins—and focusing on them is one of nature’s ways of stimulating  self-motivation.

After your 2021 professional reflection, you have to answer the following five questions:

What impact did 2021 have on your…

1. Business – The idea here is to think beyond production and AUM. In challenging times, things change and people tend to expose themselves for who they really are; good and bad. What, if anything, did you discover about your team members? My guess is that at least one person became empowered, embraced their remote office, accepted new responsibilities, provided good ideas, pitched in wherever and whenever needed— basically raised his or her game far beyond expectations. Conversely, we’ve witnessed the opposite. Working from home wasn’t in the DNA for some people for a variety of reasons. They couldn’t adjust, performance was subpar, which in turn forced career discussions. And maybe you had to add staff, contracted or hired an IT person. 

Regarding changes, what differences did you experience in your clients’ needs, expectations and mindset? Most likely your method of communication changed. Zoom calls, which you probably never previously considered using, have become the new normal. Which leads to changes regarding technology and social media. My guess is that much of this has changed dramatically

Not only have you been conducting virtual meetings with clients, COIs and prospects—your marketing has likely shifted to incorporate social media. You might be running Facebook ads or using video as your content marketing platform to better position yourself as a thought leader. Many of you have learned how to get personal email introductions (67% of clients are comfortable with this). There’s no telling, but things happened in your business beyond production and AUM.

2. Family – With schools vacillating between in-person and virtual learning, vaccination recommendations for children, parents and grandparents seemingly varying from news cycle to news cycle—we’ve been tested in ways never before experienced. Children need socialization and education, parents need to be able to remain healthy and earn an income, while grandparents run the gamut of age, health and lifestyle (home, condo, assisted living, etc.) issues. What impact has all of this had on your family?

As we all have experienced, remote home offices impact the family. Yes, they’re very convenient, on the other hand they can be full of distractions. Regardless, working from home becomes a family affair—did it have an impact on your family?

3. Finances – As you’re only too well aware, advisors have been in an envious position to be able to advise clients remotely, use technology from their home office that replicates their normal office, and still earn a good living. And hopefully you’re one of the many advisors whose personal income has gone up during this pandemic. What impact did all of this have?   

4. Socializing – We’re social creatures, yet many of our social activities have been curtailed by the pandemic. That said, most people have found ways to remain social with their close friends and family members. Neighbors who were heretofore waved to in passing are taking walks together, having drinks around the fire pit, and so on. 

How about socializing with clients? Whether it was finally having a social lunch, meeting for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, advisors who made the effort to socialize with clients strengthened these relationships. We’ve seen social lunches and happy hours over Zoom, personal phone calls and gift baskets—all of which served to trigger oxytocin, the hormone that lowers stress and anxiety and breeds trust.

5. Health – How was your health during 2021? Regardless of political views, living through a pandemic has everyone on guard, more focused on health issues than ever before. What was once a winter cold has us running out to find a COVID-19 test. In my world, even though two of our children and two grandchildren did get COVID (fully recovered), to date I’ve been lucky. However, I did tear the patellar tendon on my good knee. Most likely it was because I’d increased my physical activities beyond the stress level the old aging body could handle.

Health is both physical and mental. Ongoing stress lowers our immune system, which is never a good thing. Some people have become more active, while others more sedentary. Some people have been eating better as they’re cooking more, others are eating and drinking more.

As you reflect on these five questions, think in terms of what positive impact all of this can have as we begin to live our lives in the new normal. Think of at least one new routine, one good habit, developed regarding your business, family, business, finances, socializing and health.

Just a reminder, health is the foundation for everything.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent

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