How unhappy should an advisor be to consider change? Nine questions to gauge whether it’s time to start exploring options.
“I am mostly happy.
Business is good. I’m growing. I have a solid team.
Yet, I wonder if there could be something better. Is it possible to be happier than I am?
I’m watching trusted and respected colleagues leave.
And I worry about the future. Will the direction in which my firm is heading allow me to build the business I want?
What am I missing? What don’t I know?”
This uncertainty is a sentiment that many advisors share with us: A philosophical volley between considering change and blind loyalty to their firm, plus a lack of clarity around their goals.
Yet to fully understand whether being “mostly happy” is enough and will allow an advisor to serve their clients to the best of their abilities means taking the time to be rigorously self-aware and honest. That is, asking the tough questions to get a sense of whether one’s firm is indeed serving them best.
Is mostly happy all that there is, or is there more that you can expect or are even entitled to? And when it comes to an advisor’s business and clients, is there an opportunity cost? That is, by settling for the status quo, is it a disservice to your business and clients?
Are you really as happy as you think?
The reality is that happiness is relative—intrinsically connected to solving for a certain level of desire. And an advisor can only determine whether they are truly content by knowing themselves first, then taking the time to explore the potential that another opportunity can perhaps better serve them.
It starts by asking the following questions:
- Do I feel my firm’s platform, support, and infrastructure are robust enough?
- Do I feel I am getting enough value from what my firm delivers?
- Do I feel optimistic about my prospects for growth?
- Do I feel limited in any way? How might those limitations be impacting productivity and client service?
- What are my goals for the business over the long term?
- What other products or services would I like to offer clients? And how likely am I to be able to satisfy them where I am?
- If I imagined a blank slate, what does my version of perfection look like five and ten years from now?
- What might be coming down the pike that could tie me further to my firm?
- What are my succession goals, and does my firm have an appropriate and competitive retire-in-place program?
Are you feeling like you don’t know what you don’t know?
The answers to the nine questions above are critical: They help reveal where gaps between you and your firm may exist and serve as a litmus test to how happy you really are.
If the answers uncover areas where there’s room for improvement, it’s a clear indication that your level of happiness may not be enough after all—and it’s time to get educated.
And that’s where, for many, the rubber meets the road: because exploration solves the issue of not knowing what you don’t know. Plus, there may be opportunities to serve clients better and grow the business that you are missing out on.
Ultimately, exploration is about satisfying curiosity and staying educated on a rapidly changing industry landscape—and it doesn’t necessarily result in a commitment to move. Therefore, it’s important to periodically challenge your notions of happiness and determine whether your firm continues to be the right fit for you.
We counsel advisors to revisit the above questions annually or, at the very least, every three years to ensure their firm continues to be the right fit for their business and their clients—regardless of whether they are “mostly happy” or not.
Because in an industry where more opportunity exists than ever before, there’s a cost to living with a status quo that may not be serving you best—or making you as happy as you deserve to be.
As seen on Forbes.com…