Building an effective team in the financial services industry is more critical than ever for success. Teams of financial advisors have become more highly popular over the past decade due to client demand for more services and higher productivity. However, not all teams work well together, and there is no guarantee that productivity will increase for all advisors who are part of a team. To build an effective team, it is important to have the right fit, the same commitment level, and shared vision and goals. Once these success elements are in place, there are six important practices that will take your team to the next level.
- Frequent and open communication. The most common problems observed in teams are communication problems, which can easily be remedied by establishing venues for communication and fostering open and candid communication. We recommend holding an internal meeting once a week to reinforce the values, vision, and accountability of the team. In addition, senior partners should have an open-door policy and encourage team members to feel comfortable sharing their concerns, issues, and ideas with them.
- Establishing shared values. Shared values are essential for the development of a successful team, and each prospective team member must feel comfortable that the other team members have similar professional values. The team’s shared values must be communicated to all members of the team to avoid any disconnect among team members and to ensure everyone is acting in accordance with the team’s values.
- Develop a vision for your team. Your team (including sole practitioners) must develop and articulate their goals and vision. This should include specific short and long-term goals as well as a vision for what the practice represents to clients. All team members are more productive when they are working towards specific goals and a clear vision of what they offer.
- Accountability. Once the vision and values have been established and communicated, every member of the team must be held accountable for their role in reaching the goals and furthering the team’s vision. A job description should be written for each team member, including what they are responsible for. One best practice is for a member of the team to be assigned as a “controller” to track results against each team member’s job description. Compensation and recognition should be based on the contributions each team member makes in their area of responsibility.
- Compensation. Compensation must be fair to all parties for a team to be effective. Compensation should be based on the goals and results each team member has committed to through their job description. As the team grows, those responsible for the growth must be compensated for their contributions. Accountability and compensation must go hand in hand. Recognition can be as important as compensation, especially for the client associates.
- Developing a succession plan. At some point, team members may depart for a variety of reasons, including the retirement of a senior partner. A succession plan needs to be developed and communicated to all members of the team, so everyone knows where they stand during the transition. Clients want/need to know what the succession plan is for a wealth management practice. The succession plan can be changed and refined over time with the team’s input, but there should always be one in place.
Building an effective team in the financial services industry requires the right fit, the same commitment level, and a shared vision and goals. Once these success elements are in place, frequent and open communication, shared values, a clear vision, accountability, fair compensation, and a succession plan are important practices to take the team to the next level. With these practices, the team’s productivity and success can be greater than the sum of its parts.
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