The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement, the recently published book by influential wealth industry veteran, Julie Littlechild, offers a unique roadmap for advisors who want to take their business from good to great.
A major transformation is underway in the financial services industry. Innovative technology is disrupting business models and changing the tools and strategies needed to be competitive and win. And the trend toward client-centered “fiduciary” advice is gaining momentum and contributing to considerable industry restructuring and driving the creation of new business models.
While this can seem overwhelming at times, it also represents a unique opportunity to step back and take a closer look at your advisory business. Indeed, there may not be a better time than NOW to take an introspective pause and plot your path forward.
What’s your WHY?
In his popular TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of defining your WHY – why you do what you do, not merely what you do or how you do it – because this is what differentiates you and inspires people to take action.
The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement builds on this idea. Littlechild has written the book for financial advisory professionals on finding the WHY in your business and how to use it to inspire your clients, your employees, and – perhaps most importantly – yourself.
“Absolute Engagement is like passion with a game plan.”
Based on hundreds of hours of conversations and quantitative study with over 600 advisors, Littlechild has identified three characteristics of what absolutely engaged advisors do differently from other advisors:
- They have consciously identified the type of clients they WANT to work with.
- They have limited the scope of their own work to focus solely on what they love doing and are passionate about.
- They have built a team and a process that allows them to concentrate on this work.
So how does one become engaged absolutely?
Littlechild lays out five steps that one can follow to achieve Absolute Engagement:
- Awareness – creating a personal vision by tuning into what energizes and inspires you as an advisor.
- Audacity – translating that personal vision into a business vision, and defining your target clients and your role within your team.
- Action – designing a shared experience around your target clients, your team, and your personal vision.
- Accountability – putting into place the structure to support the pursuit of your vision.
- Renewal – creating space in your life to renew and reconnect with your vision.
Overcoming the barriers
Change of any kind means overcoming the mental barriers we impose on ourselves. Littlechild points to two key barriers preventing us from changing: the “shoulds” that weigh on us and our fear of being vulnerable.
The “shoulds” are that set of responsibilities and obligations, often financial in nature, that prevent us from thinking outside the box about our success. Littlechild tells the story of an advisor, James, who had a vision for change, but felt “he ‘should’ be the primary financial support for the household, he ‘should’ stick to a job that was predictable and he ‘should’ put aside his own desires to provide for his family.”
What helped James to overcome this barrier was the realization that the changes to his practice didn’t need to happen overnight. By setting aside his all-or-nothing thinking, he was able to formulate a plan to bring his vision to life while continuing to provide for his family.
The other barrier is overcoming the emotional armor that protects us in our day-to-day lives. Vulnerability, in Littlechild’s view, can help us overcome our resistance to change. By opening ourselves up, we risk being hurt or disappointed, but we also discover the strength to re-vision and pivot in our lives. Sometimes, vulnerability is thrust upon us, while other times it’s a conscious choice to be open and honest with ourselves about how satisfied we are with our lives and work. This can be very challenging for many advisors whose armor is built up from their earliest days in the industry.
Yet, it’s only by overcoming these barriers – through exercising personal grit, adopting a growth mindset and setting audacious goals – that we can lay the foundation of a personal and professional transformation that will create the conditions for unimagined growth and satisfaction in our businesses.
If not now, when?
Littlechild makes a compelling argument for Absolute Engagement as a business transformation strategy for any financial advisor. She not only offers a vision for how to improve your business, but also substantiates it with empirical data collected over many years and translates it into a practical plan to guide you to this future.
“My hypothesis, which draws on observation, research and a healthy dose of personal experience, is that advisors don’t break through because they are lucky, work harder or execute better. They break through as a result of an intentional pause and period of reflection, after which they ask a new question about the future. That period of reflection can be a critical turning point if you just give yourself the time and permission to stop.”
~ Julie Littlechild, The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement
There couldn’t be a better time consider such a transformation in your advisory business.
The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement is available online and you can find out more about Julie Littlechild by visiting her website at absoluteengagement.com.