Ask any financial advisor about the advice and projections they give to clients, and they’ll say that precision is paramount (and their compliance officer will second that). Yet, when this meticulousness spills over into marketing, sales, and overall business management, it can be a double-edged sword: the same perfectionism which helps ensure accuracy in delivering financial recommendations is often a stumbling block for financial advisors, especially when it comes to taking action.
Why does this quest for perfection hinder business growth and how can adopting a mindset of living in the ‘grey zone’ propel financial advisors forward? Let’s take a look.
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The paralysis of perfection
Perfectionism, at its core, is the desire to achieve flawlessness. While it stems from a place of passion and commitment to excellence, it can paradoxically lead to inaction. For many RIA leaders looking to accelerate growth or reduce effort (or both), they look to implementing systems. Marketing systems, sales systems, operational systems. As they learn a concept for a system, they get excited about the possibilities and the benefits.
The challenge that holds many advisors back? Wanting to master this system perfectly before taking the first step. This quest often leads to a daunting feeling of being overwhelmed, procrastination, or outright inaction.
Understand the implementation ‘Grey Zone’
At this point, you might be wondering what the ‘grey zone’ entails. Contrary to any negative connotations, this ‘grey zone’ doesn’t signify operating below ethical or professional standards. Instead, it represents a space between the absolutes of black and white—a space of iterative progress, where each action, even if not perfect, adds incremental value to the business.
Embrace progress – one step at a time
Consider the lead-to-client conversion marketing system. This system carries a lead who identifies themselves at the top of your marketing funnel (by signing up for a lead magnet or your monthly newsletter) all the way through to their first client onboarding meeting.
If you wait to launch until you build out the entire system, with each communication perfectly crafted at the right touchpoint, you’re missing out on opportunities and revenue. Instead, if you offer a free download right now that has only one follow-up email, add a second email delivered three days later to your auto-responder sequence. Don’t worry about email 3, 4, 5 or 10…Simply add one more.
Each refinement is a step closer to perfection, achieved through real experience rather than mere planning. You’ll be able to get a sense of people’s engagement in the content, adapt it along the way, or simply build out the relationship as you make time to do so.
This approach isn’t about settling for mediocrity. It’s about seeing the value in taking a step, any step, and learning from it.
Living in the ‘Grey Zone’
For financial advisors and RIA leaders, embracing this ‘grey zone’ means:
1. Starting small
Instead of overhauling your entire marketing strategy, start with one channel or tactic. Master it, learn from it, and then expand. Consider social media. Pick the channel that your ideal client is most likely spending time on, and engage there. Build your following, share content, comment on others’ posts. If Linkedin is the spot, don’t worry about TikTok or instagram or Facebook. Focus on one platform and engage. When you overcome inertia you’ll be surprised how energizing marketing can become.
2. Valuing feedback
Use client feedback, team input, and market response as your compass. Feedback will offer insights that no amount of planning can provide. While you may already have formal client feedback surveys in place, or solicit input from employees, you can shop compelling content ideas before you even flesh them out.
Example: If you believe a topic will be interesting for your audience, announce a webinar on a topic. Open up enrollment with 3-4 learning points included on the registration page. See how the market responds. Do the people on your list sign up? (note, if it is popular, you may have to hustle to get your slides done, but it’s worth it!).
3. Adapting to the now
The financial world is dynamic. An adaptable approach, one that isn’t bound by the chains of perfectionism, can pivot more effectively as markets shift or events occur. While reachingout during a market swing can open up the “panic door,” sometimes advisors desire to share a message of calm during a storm. Don’t worry about being perfect. Jump on loom, record a video, and send it out to your clients. Do it in one take, ‘umms’ and all. It’s a conversation, not a production.
4. Celebrating progress
Acknowledge every action, every step, and every small victory. Much like paying down a “debt snowball,” or portfolio growth from consistent contributions to a 401(k), these incremental advances compound over time, leading to significant growth. Take a few minutes (or more) to notice.
In a world that often glorifies perfection, it’s crucial for financial advisors to recognize that while accuracy is essential in advice for clients, perfection as a business leader is not mission critical. By adopting the mindset of living in the ‘grey zone’ and valuing progress over perfection, advisors can build the marketing, sales and operational systems to support business growth much faster and with many small wins to celebrate along the way. Doesn’t that sound much more enjoyable?
Are you stuck in perfection? Unsure which step to take first? Schedule a complimentary consultation to gain clarity on your next action.
Kristin is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. Managing her own firm, she grew it from zero to six figures in less than three years, completely from scratch. In 2014 Kristin transitioned full time into training and coaching, where she now helps independent financial advisors to grow their firms.