Wealth Management


Wealth Management

by Andy Bernstein

What is the key to improving advisor performance in a polarized and disrupted world? One answer comes from Google.

When Google wanted to improve their workforce, they crunched the numbers, assuming that the best performance was coming from teams with the most talented individuals.

But the numbers told a different story.

The best performance wasn’t about the Who (talent) or the What (objectives). It was about the How.

Specifically, it was about the amount of “psychological safety” that a team cultivated. Psychological safety describes:

  • How comfortable team members are giving and receiving feedback
  • How skilled the team is at taking turns speaking and embracing disagreement
  • How committed team leaders are to modeling humility and admitting mistakes

The “How” of psychological safety improves performance because it builds an energy of empathy and shared accountability that affects every decision, every meeting, every metric. That becomes a tailwind that pushes teams forward together even in the face of disruption and change.

Psychological safety is the tailwind that pushes teams forward together even in the face of disruption and change.

That may be fine at Google, but does psychological safety matter in wealth management?

It didn’t used to.

Once upon a time, when brokers’ main job was selling stock and everyone worked in the same office, at the same time, doing the same thing they did yesterday, command-and-control leadership was effective. Brokers needed to get the Glengarry leads, dial for dollars, and grow. Psychological safety didn’t matter.

But those days are gone for 3 reasons:

  • First, the workload has changed. Volatile markets, shifting regulations, and increased client demands means there’s more “task volume” than in the past. Command-and-control can boost short-term results, but leads to long-term burnout.
  • Second, the workplace has changed. In the new hybrid environment, team members disconnect more easily and blame each other more often. Morale is much harder to build.
  • And third, the people have changed. Everyone is feeling the effects of the past three years. Investing in team well-being makes life better for everyone — while not investing in team well-being carries yesterday and today’s frustrations forward to tomorrow.

Investing in psychological safety and building empathy can help teams in any industry, but there’s an additional reason why this matters in wealth management in particular. Client needs have changed:

  • UHNW families want help with intergenerational values conflicts
  • 401k directors want help with the Great Resignation
  • Everyone wants help with political polarization and social change

Advisors can help.

As the financial advice side of the business is commoditized, advisors have a chance to “level-up” their value proposition by delivering more non-financial value. This dramatically increases their relevance to clients, and their own sense of purpose.

As a result, an advisor’s growth as a person now is aligned to the growth of their business.

This is a profound change. Growth used to be about “closing.” Now it’s about connecting.

An advisor’s growth as a person is now aligned to the growth of their business.

And the team is how advisors get there, because team members spend more time with each other than anyone else. Teams can help you become a better listener. They can teach you how to connect to other people the right way, and they provide the “constant gentle pressure” it takes to identify weak spots and develop yourself.

But this doesn’t happen on its own. Most advisors — even very big advisors — don’t have true teams. Instead, they have groups of people who work together, mostly in frustration.

Forging a team requires something else.

How Groups Become Teams

To forge a team, advisors need everyone around them to increase psychological safety. This means engaging in a development program with very specific skills, and with enough length (program time) and width (whole team exposure) to make those skills part of their DNA.

In a perfect world, it would also have depth, where everyone on the team shares the toolkit with their families too. That’s how you transfer training holistically, and truly help people grow as people.

The Resilience Academy program on “Advanced Relationships for Teams” is special among wealth management offerings because it delivers value in all three dimensions.

  • Length: The training content is blended so it starts in person then continues online and is accessible for a full year. This leads to much better “transfer of training” than a one-off workshop or shorter coaching engagement. Team development is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Width: Your whole team gets access to the training and tools. This raises the waterline so that frustrating team interactions improve, and every team member has an equal stake in greater empathy and accountability.
  • Depth: Each team member also gets a Resilience Academy Family Pass so that their loved ones can gain new resilience skills, and team members show up for work at their best.

It takes the content I’ve been delivering for years to top advisors on resilience, empathy, and well-being, adds new content specific to teams, and delivers it in a half-day in-person workshop so the entire team can level-up.

Then it follows this with a year of online virtual coaching so the whole team can integrate these tools effectively under real-world conditions.

Is this program for everyone? No. It’s not for new advisors. It’s not for sole practitioners. It’s not for complacent “top producers” who care more about money than people and believe they don’t need to evolve.

But for advisors who are ready to grow as leaders and as human beings, this program gives you an evidence-based framework, an achievable plan, and practical tools to take trust and team performance to a whole new level.

Engagements are currently limited to 5 teams at a time in select markets. To express interest, fill out the form below.

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The first Resilience Academy course is free. Get started now, or become a member.