The summer can be a slower time for financial advisors and their business. Dr. Rick Jensen, world-renowned performance coach, sports psychologist, and author, and Scott Engroff, sales manager and senior vice president for Intermediary Sales at Allspring Global Investments, discuss how advisors can use that downtime in the offseason to take their game to the next level.


Dr. Rick Jensen: I think many times we think of business planning in December and January. I think the cycle actually works better for advisors of doing business planning towards the end of summer so that they can come into the fall ready to go.

Scott Engroff: That’s Dr. Rick Jensen, world-renowned performance coach, sports psychologist, and author. I’m Scott Engroff, sales manager and senior vice president for Intermediary Sales at Allspring Global Investments, and you’re listening to On The Trading Desk®. The summer can be a slower time for financial advisors and their business. So, today we are discussing how advisors can go ahead and use that downtime to take their game to the next level. Thanks for joining me today, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rick: Great to be with you, Scott. Thanks.

Scott: Great. Well, Dr. Rick, for the past three decades, you’ve coached top performers in both the worlds of pro sports and financial services. And so, both of those environments have offseasons. And so, typically the summertime for advisors is a time for fun. It’s a time for family. But it can also be accompanied by a time in drop in productivity for advisors. So, how do you see those top performers utilizing their offseasons while also preventing a decline in productivity?

Dr. Rick: I think that the top advisors do very similar things to what top athletes do in terms of how they use the offseason. I think of productivity in terms of moving your business agenda forward, moving your business plan forward. So, what I see the top, let’s just go with athletes at first. I work primarily in professional golf and professional tennis. Clearly, the number one thing is rest your body, rest your mind, recover, and reconnect with family and friends. With that said, I don’t find that the pro athletes take an entire offseason off. Think of it as, yes, there’s going to be time for family and friends, physical and mental recovery, and then, frankly, it’s a time where they raise the foundation of their game. Maybe they get into a more rigorous fitness program where they actually fatigue their body. They change their body. They’ll change how strong they are, how much flexibility they have in the offseason. But to do that much physical work during the season would compromise potentially how they may play, how they might serve, how they might drive the golf ball. If they’re going to make a coaching change or an equipment change, they’re going to do that in the offseason. It’s very, very risky to make an equipment change mid-season. The parallel to that with advisors is what are the foundational parts of their game that after they’ve taken some time with family, after they’ve gone on a family vacation, what are the parts of their practice that they would consider more foundational? So, if they considered making a firm change, if they considered making a team change, if they considered partnering, if they’re going from a solo practice to a team practice, if they’re looking at a wholesale change in terms of their investment platform, if they’re shifting to advisory and they really want to do quite a bit of that over a period of time, certainly in terms of the technology that they might use to do that. All of those things are fantastic times to initiate those during the offseason.

Scott: That’s great, Rick. I’m glad you mentioned the time for recovery and in connecting with valued friends and family. At the end of July, I actually had the opportunity. I traveled to Conneaut Lake, which is a medium-sized lake. It’s about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh. And it was our annual Engroff family reunion. And we had 20 members of the family. We spent a week living the lake life. We skied. We tubed. We wakeboarded. We did wave running. We swam.

Dr. Rick: Awesome.

Scott: But more importantly than that, the week was all about relaxing, but it was also about deeply connecting with various members of the family. And after that, I came back, I was totally rejuvenated. It’s been amazing how productive I’ve been at work for the last two weeks just because I’m refreshed, right? And so, I see the parallels between what you were talking about and what I just went through.

Dr. Rick: Love it.

Scott: OK, so now that we are recovered and we talked through that, there is one other thing that you mentioned before that I wanted to dig into a little bit more. So, we have the recovery. We feel refreshed. We’re energized, ready to go. And then, you talked about the importance of raising and strengthening the foundation to maximize performance. So, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how athletes and then top-performing advisors really utilize that offseason to go ahead and then maximize and reach their full potential.

Dr. Rick: I guess that once you feel like you’ve rested and you’re ready to go again, I even say, even while you’re doing that, you’re anticipating. I’m doing an assessment. So, I could be sitting by the lake and when I’m by myself, I’d even be thinking, hey, what am I going to do next year that’s going to allow me to perform at a higher level? It’s not out of bounds to kind of be mixing the two by any means, right? So, I think there’s this period of assessment of what needs to happen this coming year and how do I now start to use maybe the latter part of the offseason to raise the foundation of my potential that way. And frankly, in the world of pro sports, oftentimes that’s not just an offseason. It takes a season or two, but it gets initiated in the offseason as to we’re going to go ahead and make these changes and start to train differently. And then, we call it transfer training. Once you get into the season, you’re trying to use those new skills in that new foundation. So, for advisors, take that to the advisory space. This is a great time, right? We’re coming into August and as we come into August, you start thinking about, hey, what are the things I do want to change? You and I talk a lot about partnering with other team members or growing out their team. I have a lot of advisors during this time of year, they’re getting advanced certifications, so it’s a time to get their team licensed. So, if I summarize that, it’s more assess and start to do business planning. I think many times we think of business planning in December and January. I think the cycle actually works better for advisors of doing business planning towards the end of summer so that they can come into the fall ready to go.

Scott: I couldn’t agree with you more. I mean, one of the things that we do that I find so helpful in running a sales group is we do midyear strategic business discussions. Right?

Dr. Rick: Exactly.

Scott: And it’s not what you did or you didn’t do or like performance. It’s all about, hey, let’s have some real candid conversations. Let’s have some strategic discussions. And yeah, we want to review what happened in the first half of the year, but then the important work is really strategizing about the second half of the year, right? And thinking about, okay, what do we need to do differently? Who do we need to partner with in the second half of the year and think about what we might want to do differently? Hey, let’s make small tweaks. We don’t need to make wholesale changes. And that’s often what I find is it’s not the major changes. It’s like, okay, let’s identify some small tweaks we can make and that’s going to, one, help us be super prepared for the busy season, which for us is really Labor Day till the end of the year, and two, it’s going to make sure we’re fully prepared to maximize our opportunities and leverage our resources in the second half of year. As you talked about, you can’t do that when you’re in the game, right? In the moment. Like you need to be prepared to do that or else you’re kind of lost and scrambling last minute.

Dr. Rick: And as you know, that timing is important. You learn the cadence. You can’t in financial services, tax season, right? I mean, you can’t be doing that in March and April. There’re demands going on. Frankly, when you get into the end of the year and you’re doing tax harvesting and reporting, you can’t be doing that. You’ve got that mixed in with the Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah season. You’ve got to kind of find those pockets. So, again, I do love this time of year. It is a wonderful time of year where you’re post-tax season. Hopefully, you’re rested from kids being out of school and being able to spend some time with them. As you come into August, September, October, and early November, prime season. To me, that’s major championship season for financial advisors. And this is a great time to kind of be reestablishing what do I really want to do to raise the bar over the next four months?

Scott: Often when we’re working together, I hear you talk about how professional athletes and how top advisors surround themselves with winners. Like during the offseason, what do these top performers do to really develop those partnerships and resources?

Dr. Rick: We inside the world of sports, we call it the player support team. I’m a member of a player’s support team that is kind of behind the athlete that many times the public does not see. But what’s clear when you’re in pro sports is even in individual sports like golf and tennis, I say those sports are team sports. There is an entire team behind Djokovic, behind Nadal, behind Alcaraz. That’s really, really important. It has become so much more important in the advisory space because I say—again, I’ve been in the world of financial services for about 30 years—it has gone from an individual to a team sport. There’re clearly people building out teams of not just their own client associates and teaming with other partners, but learning to leverage the resources that you have in terms of the investment capabilities. So, advisors have moved their teams to being, I call them more their advanced problem solvers, with clients with specialized needs. So, they’re working with business owners on succession planning. They’re working with ultra-high net worth families, providing family office types of resources around wealth transfer and next gen education and advanced estate planning solutions. So, while they’re going there, they’re building teams around them. Yes, their internal team, but also outside partners, as well. They’re starting to leverage the resources of their firms, whether they be at a wirehouse or an independent and the resources of their partners. And come back to our idea, the offseason is a time to visit with those people, take some time out of the office, and go learn the capabilities. I just got back from a due diligence meeting last night that that was the whole purpose of that was advisors visiting a home office to learn their resources and the capabilities of a home office. And it was scheduled middle of summer. Great timing.

Scott: Yeah, I think that’s so important, right? Like the days of going it alone or being able to be successful doing it alone, there’s no chance, right? Whether you’re in the world of sports or whether you’re a financial advisor, we have so many resources that are available to us. It’s so important to prioritize what are the best resources and to leverage them. If you make it a best practice of doing those two things, you just kind of exponentially grow what you’re able to do in terms of productivity.

Dr. Rick: The biggest change that I’ve seen in the last ten years is the need for the advisor to position and articulate, I call it, their advisory value proposition. It is changing. The game has changed in a way that advisors are no longer just positioning themselves as the smart broker. Like I’m the one who can find you a great stock or bond. It’s changed. It is now I’m the portal by which you can access unbelievable resources and I brought all these resources together under one space. I’m the avenue in which I can introduce that. So, their value proposition is not so me-centric. It’s not so egocentric. It’s much more team-centric. And so, you have to kind of use times like now to, okay, it’s not more is better. It’s better is better. And oftentimes, those that you and I have always talked about, like your bond team in their ability to focus all of their time and energy on selecting bonds and researching things can just do so much more than I can do when I’m having to wear 12 hats. Advisors need to be the quarterback of all those other resources and learn how to articulate that without feeling as though they’re giving up value. They’re actually bringing more value. And so, many times we’re practicing how they articulate that new value proposition.

Scott: Awesome. Rick, if you could just think through, if you had one last tidbit to share with financial advisors out there, what would that be to kind of wrap things up?

Dr. Rick: I guess I would wrap it up with be willing to get better. Be willing to use this time to do an honest self-reflection on you personally and on your team to determine how can we be better. I think in this industry, many advisors do quite well. They certainly do well financially and it’s so easy to kind of go into a complacency mode or just to go on cruise control. But most advisors I work with, I find that by them doing more deliberate, what I call deliberate practice, they’re hiring a coach, they’re working with their team, they’re doing better business planning, they just work smarter, not harder. And this is a great time to reflect on how can we work smarter, not necessarily work more.

Scott: Yeah, that’s great stuff, Dr. Rick. Thanks for joining me today. Appreciate you sharing your insights around how we can all make the most of our offseason and really use that time to take our game to the next level. So, appreciate you joining me.

Dr. Rick: Thank you so much.

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