SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - Most advisors are accustomed to the idea that, for the sake of growth and development, it's important to think of their advisory practice like a business.

But many forget that this makes them the CEO and requires a particular mindset.

Bill Williams, executive vice president of the advisor franchise group at Ameriprise, presented a session sponsored by Ameriprise on this subject, Growing Your Practice in Today's Reality: The Importance of Focus, Leverage, and Execution, at FPA Experience. I sat down with Williams after the session to ask him more about the CEO mindset, why advisors don't have it and why they need it.

"To me, a CEO mindset is about helping advisors understand, whether you are working in a wirehouse or you're an advisor, your outcome and your success is dependent upon your thinking like a true business owner. [And remembering] that you have control over the outcome," Williams said.

He focused on the ways advisors can adopt the CEO mindset (and behaviors) in three areas:

  • Experience: Define and write what the client experience looks like, decide how to market to them and design the tools, people and systems around that experience.
  • Pricing: Advisors have control over what they charge for financial planning and should consciously decide why they are pricing themselves there.
  • Growth: Decide beyond client service and planning, how will you bring in more assets? A partnership, buying a practice, hiring in another advisor with a book of business? Choose a way to expand at a faster rate.

"But," Williams said said, "You can't really grow, and develop the client experience you want, stick to your pricing model or implement growth strategies unless you leverage."

Williams also said it can be very difficult for advisors to change their thinking and their approach to their practice, especially when they have created value in a specific way with clients.

"Most advisors are trained as practitioners, so they're really good at products and talking to clients, but they're not as good at making business decisions," Williams said.  He said advisors want to be in a groove with their practice, not a rut.

So why should advisors think and act this way?  How will it help them?

"The biggest reason to go down this CEO mindset and leverage other people, is to free them up and allow them to realize that there can be more people serving their client, allow them some disconnect time from their practice which can allow them to be more strategic," Williams said.

He added, "Growth shouldn't be your sole purpose. I believe you can serve the client better, you can have a more productive personal life, and by the way, the other benefit is you're going to get growth and better income if you navigate the change well."

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