A Blog for Today’s Top Financial Advisors

What It Means To Be a Thought Leader in Wealth Management—and Why It Matters – Episode 6

Key Takeaways:

  • Your personal story creates a deep level of interest in you and makes the listener want to associate with you further.
  • To find your story, think about who has influenced you, the life events that have moved you most and the biggest hurdles along your path.
  • Perfect your story by telling it to ten people and refining it as needed.

Do you want to have a sustainable competitive advantage over all the other financial advisors who serve clients who are ideal for your financial advisory business?

I thought so. (You probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t!)

Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to create that advantage is to become a thought leader in your market. Done well, establishing yourself as a thought leader will set you up for the significant success that most financial advisors aspire to—yet few achieve. I’m guessing you’re intrigued. I’m also guessing you’re wondering just what a thought leader is and why being one can have an outsize impact on your future success.

Let’s find out!

Thought leader, defined

Many financial advisors—and other types of professionals—call themselves thought leaders, though very often they are not actually seen as thought leaders. Nor do they actually enjoy the rewards of being a thought leader.

On the other hand, when affluent individuals and centers of influence serving the affluent say a financial advisor is a thought leader, then he or she probably is a thought leader—and is likely accruing enormous business advantages.

Based on decades of helping financial advisors become thought leaders, I have concluded that true thought leaders possess two key traits:

Trait one is about how others perceive a thought leader:

A thought leader is a wealth manager who is recognized by affluent clients, prospective clients, centers of influence and competitors as a leading financial authority. As a result, he or she is a go-to expert.

Trait two is about the commercial component of thought leadership:

A thought leader is a wealth manager who significantly profits from being recognized as a go-to expert.

As we all know from the business world, being great—even being the best—isn’t enough. Not if your expertise is a secret. (Think about how many extraordinary technology companies have gone under because they failed to become household names.)

You need to be widely recognized as a true expert by the people who will be key drivers of your business—an authority in helping them address their financial challenges. And you need to parlay that expertise into profits.

Why does thought leadership matter?

One big reason why thought leadership matters is because the top financial advisors today tell us it matters to their success. Nearly all of the most accomplished advisors—elite wealth managers earning $1 million or more annually—see the business development power of thought leadership, especially as it relates to increasing their assets under management (see Exhibit 1).

In short, thought leadership works—and it works extremely well—according to the most successful financial advisors working today.

Hitting the affluent’s hot buttons

But why does thought leadership help drive AUM growth and other measures of financial advisor success? It’s because it’s rooted in what the wealthy truly want from their professional advisors.

At the risk of stating a painfully obvious point, you want to serve wealthy clients. The affluent are a fast-growing group who tend to rely on professionals to manage their wealth—and who tend to be willing and able to pay those professionals well, so long as they deliver high-quality solutions.

So what do these affluent clients want from their financial professionals? When it comes to addressing their often-complex and always-important issues and concerns, the wealthy want experts. Take wealth management, for example. High-net-worth clients want experts who can intelligently manage their money to meet current and future needs. They also strongly prefer working with financial advisors who can bring to the table additional financial solutions beyond investment management—advanced planning solutions that address key areas of their lives like asset protection, taking care of heirs through estate planning, and charitable giving.

Certainly other factors are important, too—such as rapport and how well a client feels he or she “clicks” with an advisor. But as important as rapport is, it is increasingly marginalized when one wealth manager is a well-established thought leader standing head and shoulders above others.

Along the same lines, centers of influence almost unanimously want to make sure they direct their wealthy clients to the very best, most talented wealth managers they know. Being a thought leader puts you into this category. Indeed, most of the wealthy are often willing to give up some, if not all, camaraderie in return for getting the very best wealth management advice and solutions.

This is even more evident with referral sources—centers of influence. Because of the risks to professionals such as accountants or lawyers in making introductions to less-than-expert wealth managers, perceived expertise consistently dominates their decisions about to whom they should introduce their wealthy clients.

Bottom line: The wealthy want experts This means that while you must have financial expertise, it’s even more important to effectively communicate that you have that expertise—and that’s what being a thought leader is all about.

Take Action

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Where you go—and how fast you get there—is up to you.

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