9 Key Habits of Successful Investment Advisors

Here are 9 key attributes of Successful Investment Advisors:


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nvestment advisory service is one of the fastest growing profession across the world. India, however, bucks the trend with people more bothered to land a secure job than tread the path of an independent planner. It’s not, that the youth of today lack the basic skills required to become a successful investment advisor which includes having a convincing personality, positive attitude, problem solving skills, analytical abilities, knowledge of legislation and similar issues. In most cases, they are unaware of the habits that make an investment advisor successful.

Success is usually found by following the actions and mindset of your successful peers. Regardless of your objectives, these are often the tried and tested paths to success. From the client acquisition perspective, much can be learnt from today’s Rainmakers.

We thought it would be useful to share some of the simple success habits observed among the top investment advisors in the industry. We don’t intend to offer an exhaustive plan for building your business. Rather, we are sharing below, some finer points of successful investment advisors that has helped them to attain success:

Getting up, close, and personal

Investment services are ultimately an exercise in building trust and personal connections. While your services could be a commodity, the personal touch isn’t. Senior advisors know that clients are not interested in the letters that follow their names or the consultancy firm they represent. While these factors can be used as an initial brand building exercise, clients will be more interested to develop a personal relationship with you.

Successful investment advisors help their clients understand the motivations, values, and the reasons behind you choosing this profession. It’ll be of your own interest to develop a relationship with your client that goes beyond the dry advisory services.


Leveraging technology

The entire financial services industry is passing through a period of major change, not only because of the 2008 economic meltdown, but by technological shifts that have ushered in social and mobile technologies and changing customer expectations.

A June 2009 report by Cerulli Associates, disclosed that client satisfaction depends more on an advisor’s service competency than portfolio performance. Private wealth investment advisor, Ruth Alan Prince, in a separate study, revealed that financial advisors spending more than 60 percent of their time in client building relationships, have a three-time higher annual income than their peers who spend only 30 to 60 percent of their time in a similar exercise.

A customer relationship management (CRM) software can play a major role in developing client-advisor relationship. While the CRM module takes care of client’s financial details, You as an advisor, can concentrate on pursuing new clients.

Many, senior investment advisors resort to CRM for tracking their marketing programmers and keep a tab on prospective clients. It’s also a key part of compliance responsibilities to keep detailed records of all clients. Getting reprimanded, or worse still sued, is something no investment advisor would want. Those notes in your CRM software can save your bread, even if a client deal is southwards bound.

Targeting a niche

High net worth individual (HNI), always look for specialists having experience and skills to serve their needs. As an investment advisor, ensure that your services match the demands of your client. Your marketing plan should align your firm with these demands and explain how you can help to resolve the specific challenges of an HNI investor.

An investment advisor may find it hard to compete with an advisory service dedicated to serve a particular niche. If your research reveals that a specific niche can be pursued, develop a strategy and follow the market of those clients.

Creating a solid professional network

Many advisors spend hours to develop co-referral agreements with others in a similar trade. But true professionals know that building a solid relationship requires trust, and an in-depth understanding of each other. Successful investment advisors invest time to get to know their clients better and how they could help one another to build a more profitable client-advisor relationship. While everybody loves easy referrals, the more you invest to build an alliance, the more you will get out of it. In fact, nearly 75 percent of top advisory firms use their alliance with accountants, attorneys, and other professionals to rake in qualified prospects.

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Here are some interesting and undeniably surprising trends noticed among successful investment advisors to forge a robust network:

Ditch investment pitches: Seminars and dinners are a common practice to rope in new clients. Successful investment advisors however, seldom use them. They also avoid direct selling techniques.

No cold calls: Majority of the senior advisors have denounced direct mails and cold calling to bring in clients. They prefer more personal marketing channels like referral networks and direct introductions.

Organize events of client interest: Is your client a cricket fanatic or a wine connoisseur? A seasoned advisor will organize a wine and cheese event or get a box seat for the client for an India-Australia one-day game. This is a better brand building than all others.

Having a written vision

Most successful investment advisors pen down the “big picture” of their business and goals to be achieved for realizing their vision. Having your own vision in black and white will give you a tangible reference throughout the year.

Ask yourself about your goals and the steps to be taken in this regard. For instance, if you are an older and established advisor, you may want to work less. In that case, you have to identify small steps leading you to your targets. Networking meets with junior advisors and training your staff to handle bigger responsibilities could be the way forward.

Proper expertise

A leading advisor will typically come with strong professional expertise that would go beyond the general knowledge of the services offered. And thus, continuing education is extremely important in financial planning. Investment advisors should have financial wisdom which is a combination of experience and knowledge. Clients want wise advisors who will guide them to their investment goals. And that is what makes the difference between a dry advice and a personalised service.

Be a teacher

Instead of mere professional advice, make your clients understand the rationale behind each investment; Instil financial discipline. Most importantly, stand beside them at times of crisis, like when their investments generate negative returns because of market volatility.


Don’t be surprised. This is one of the most surprising traits. Your idea of a leader could be that of Abraham Lincoln or Sam Manekshaw: strong, courageous, resolute, and visionary. But certainly not vulnerable.

Yet, vulnerability calls for incredible strength of character, courage and vision. Investment advisors comfortable with their vulnerability can expose their humanity and failings. We all have messed up things at some point in our lives and clearly relate to them. None is a superhuman. Not certainly a financial advisor.

Planners who admit their faults earn the confidence and trust of those around them. The strength to be vulnerable emerges from spending time for personal growth and in self-reflection.

Seeking expert advice

Changing your habits, as well as that of your staff, is not easy. Had it been, everybody would have done exactly what was needed thereby resulting in a high performing practice. But the good news is that others have treaded the path before you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Hire a coach, find a mentor. Obtain inputs and get trusted feedback.


Final Words

All said and done, it’s the service that makes all the difference. Unambiguous communication, clear terms and conditions, and addressing client concerns are keys to building up a successful advisory service.

Is there a progress to report? Are the goals being met? Are the investments generating returns? These questions matter more than the asset performance. A little less return could be okay. But a building a good client-advisor relationship is more valuable.


This article should not be construed as investment advice, please consult your Investment Adviser before making any sound investment decision.

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