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A message from Canada to UK advisers: don’t get complacent

Engage with people with a different skillset and a different view of the world and learn something new, otherwise you may miss out on ideas that are vital to your future survival

A message from Canada to UK advisers: don’t get complacent

Are you stuck in a rut? Is your career moving forward, or is every day the same?

In 2016, I initiated a complete overhaul of my already successful financial planning practice. As expected, it was incredibly disruptive and very expensive. I knew it would be a hard road, but I was wrong. It was so much worse.

Throughout my journey I constantly questioned my decision: why would anyone dismantle a successful business and rebuild it from scratch, while incurring substantial costs? The answer was simple – it was because I knew how I wanted to position my practice going forward. I was convinced I needed to continue evolving to keep pace with the world.

Paradoxically, sometimes we need to let go of the things that made us successful in the first place, to break through to the next level.

There have been monumental changes in the financial services profession in recent years. Canada is currently undergoing and will continue to undergo radical changes; so, let me ask you a question. What do you think the chances are that the changes are finished, and things will stay exactly as they are today for the rest of your career?

Cold comfort

It would be naïve for any financial planner or adviser to expect to ride out the future without the need to adapt. Unless we adapt, many of our methods and practices will become extinct.

The UK is more advanced than the profession here in Canada – but resting on your laurels will benefit no one. One of the biggest risks to an established practice, planner or adviser is complacency.

We begin to develop habits. We repeat past behaviours. We find our comfort zone. We stagnate. And stagnation can lead to obsolescence.

That comfort zone could end you. I often meet advisers who think they have 20 years’ experience. They do not. They have the same year repeated 20 times over.

I have also met some advisers who never talk to their professional peers outside their own office. This is an approach I will never understand. It is dangerous and causes so many potentially amazing planners and advisers to miss out on the cross-pollination of their thinking that comes from sharing new ideas with other professionals.

Talking with people who always agree with you is satisfying, but it is not terribly productive. Engage with people who have a different skillset and a different view of the world, and then perhaps you will learn something new. Maybe even some ways of doing things that are better than the ones you currently use. On the other hand, perhaps the alternatives are inferior to your current methods, but that is good to know too. It validates that you are on the right track. The point is this: either way, you win.

Thanks a Million

I have always looked further afield for inspiration, and a turning point for me was when I attended a focus session on how to create and lead a 21st-century practice at the Million Dollar Round Table’s Annual Meeting in 2012, in Anaheim, US, hosted by Standards International’s Michelle Hoskin.

At that session, I listened – attentively – to every word she said. I wrote pages of notes; notes that were to become the foundation of my practice development in 2016.

For that, I will always be indebted to Michelle and all those who have selflessly shared their time, their wisdom and their knowledge, all of which has made me a better person.

So, let me ask you the question again. Are you stuck in a rut?

Maybe it is time to get out there, leave your comfort zone and be exposed to some fresh new ideas. Get ready to be inspired, to innovate and to evolve; and then, just maybe, if you are one of the lucky ones, you will escape the trap of complacency.

Brad Brain is president at Brad Brain Financial Planning (British Columbia)

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