In everything we do in life, we can develop principle to guide our behavior and our life.  In the investment business, I have developed some principles that I live by and I would like to share these with you.

1.    Surround yourself with good people.

Everything we accomplish in life, requires the help of others.  When it comes to business, it is critical to build a team of great people to help you become successful.  This can include mentors, staff, clients, associated, circles of influence, peer groups, consultants, etc.  Someone once told me if you want to become rich, hand around rich people and learn what they do.  I guess the same goes for anything in business.  If you want to be successful then you have a better chance hanging around successful people.

2.    Plan your business regularly

We often tell our clients about the merits of financial planning, investment planning and estate planning.  We continue to preach that Canadians spend more time planning their vacations than they do their own finances.  The some is true to our business.  We spend more time working in the business that we do working on the business.  So often we work so hard putting out fires that we forget to take some time to plan the future.  Don’t just grow, plan to grow.

Planning has always been an integral part of my business success.  I don’t count on  success accidentally happening.  If I want to grow a business, then I think I have to sit down and think about what it will take to grow a business and create a plan that guides my actions.  For me, the best planning happens when I get away from all the noise.  One of my favorite places to get away and think is to the Rocky mountains.  It’s amazing how productive you can be when you plan to do so.

3.    Focus on your clients

Sometimes we forget that our clients are the reason for our existence.  So many times I have heard from new clients that they were frustrated because their financial advisor worked hard to get their business but they never heard from them again.

To put this in perspective, think about when you go to a restaurant or retail store or hair salon.  What do you expect?  Better yet, pretend you are looking for a new financial advisor.  What would you look for as an investor.  This kind of thinking will help you to establish what you need to do to attract and keep clients.

Some have called this the ‘you’ philosophy as opposed to the ‘me’ philosophy.  Instead of saying what’s in it for me, try saying what’s in it for you.  Doing the right job and doing a good job will bring rewarded compensation.  Sometimes not immediate but the rewards will come with this type of thinking.

4.    Develop a Competitive Advantage

With so many financial advisors running around trying to attract the same client, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. The good news is there are lots of clients and lots of different ways to develop that competitive advantage.

One of my good friends Darren Smith built one of the most successful financial businesses I know catering to only one specific segment in the market – Group Benefits.  When he started his business, he was so focused that the name of his company was the Group  Benefits Company.  That’s brilliant!  Darren was a great example of someone who knew what he was good at and when after it.  He was the master of one and his results were astounding.

5.    Develop good Systems in your business

Every successful business has the commonality of two things: good marketing and great systems.  Systematization creates efficiency.  To understand systems, take a look at McDonalds – Consistency in delivery, product, service, and quality.  These qualities are what has made McDonalds the most successful fast food chain in the world.

We can learn from this and apply it to the investment business.  Systematization is all about process.  Success comes from your ability to create processes for marketing, client service, sales, fund selection, administration, etc. The best part about systemization is it creates consistency and predicatbility.

Another successful financial advisor, Grant Hicks always said to me “Where there is a problem, replace that problem with a process.  The process is the long term solution.”

Good processes enhance vaue in a business because it means the business runs on process and not just people.  A great business will run even without people.  If you were taken out of your business, would the systems could carry the business on.

My two cents

These principles not only guided my financial planning business but it guides many facets of my life..  When you know what you believe in and what you are trying to accomplish, daily fires get a lot easier to put out.  I would encourage every advisor to establish their own principles of belief professionally and personally.

About Jim Yih

As a professional financial speaker, best selling author, columnist and financial expert, Jim is passionate about financial education and helping people make better decisions with money. Jim’s 20 years of experience in the financial industry helps people demystify investing, retirement, and personal finance. His passion is seen in his relentless development of financial education tools, resources and products including audio CDs and software programs. Jim spends most of his time helping employers and employees by bringing financial education into the workplace as a complement to existing benefit and wellness programs.