Can a group supercharge your growth?
This one might.

For the last few years I have focused on helping advisors understand how to create an elevated client experience. Typically, I like to focus on identifying areas of your business to improve, but sometimes you also need to turn the microscope on yourself. Are you the type of advisor that will attract and support the clients you want to target? The reality is, day-to-day activities such as researching markets, conducting due diligence, completing continuing education and attending conferences are activities that almost all advisors do. If you want to truly raise your game, you will have to seek out something different.

Consider adopting a strategy used by many CEO’s and self-made millionaires: surround yourself with others who will push you, provide feedback and help you to come up with solutions. In other words, you should join an advisor mastermind group.

What is an advisor mastermind group?

An advisor mastermind group is a small group of advisors who get together to learn, discuss, analyze and brainstorm solutions to their specific challenges. The agenda and topics can range from client life events (social security, divorce planning, etc.), financial planning (annuities, college planning, etc.), or practice management (succession planning, technology, etc.). It’s a forum to bring questions (What are better ways to explain market volatility?) or problems (When do you know it’s time to fire a client?) that can be industry-specific or broad business development practices.

They are called “mastermind” groups because their structure harkens back to the mastermind principle coined almost 80 years ago.

The mastermind principle originated from the 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Hill describes a mastermind alliance as, “The coordination of knowledge and effort, in spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” Additionally, Hill states that when multiple smart minds come together they create a “third mind” that can come up with solutions and think of ideas that would not happen alone. Basically, it means surrounding yourself with smart, talented people who share a similar vision and want to help you. This is exponentially more powerful than you as an individual. Thus, mastermind groups were born.

Athletes, politicians, entrepreneurs, artists and many thought leaders across industries utilize the mastermind strategy, or participate in mastermind groups, to stay sharper, more innovative and maintain a competitive edge. Advisors at all stages of their careers can derive value from joining a mastermind group to accelerate their personal and professional development. In fact, I’ve met many top advisors that attribute their involvement in a mastermind group as the catalyst that took their business to the next level.

What are the benefits?

There are many reasons an advisor should join a mastermind group, including:

Shared Understanding. Most groups form and accept new members based on similar criteria shared by the participants: years in the industry, credentials, business model, specific roles, AUM, etc. Groups with a high level of mutual understanding are likely to choose topics that will be impactful for all members—which leads to increased engagement and retention over time. For example, a group of advisors with less than 5 years of industry experience looking to build their business would likely have a distinctly different focus than a group of seasoned advisors looking to transition their business.

Fresh and Different Perspectives. Although mastermind group members may have basic similarities, each member brings a unique skill set and diverse experiences to the table. According to Hill, one of the cornerstone benefits of the mastermind principle is that you can use the full strength of the experience, training and knowledge of others as if it was your own. If possible, consider including people who are outside of your local network. This will help to eliminate competition. In addition to harnessing the experience of your fellow members, their insights into your successes, setbacks and challenges are more likely to come from an objective, unbiased position.

Accountability. Mastermind groups require accountability and participation, whether it’s preparing materials, physically attending meetings or following through on your action plans. The good thing is, when you put a stake in the ground to accomplish something and are required to report back to a person/group with your progress, you are more likely to actually achieve it. In fact, research has found that the probability of achieving a goal actually DOUBLES if you have specific accountability appointments. It’s the same reason why people with health or fitness buddies are more successful than those who try to eat healthy or work out on their own.

Unlock Resources. If your group is geographically dispersed, they’ll be more willing to share what’s working for them and the resources that they’ve found helpful. Plus, you now have an instant sounding board for your questions and ideas. However, keep in mind that this can also make getting together in person with regularity difficult. Have you ever attended a conference and, in spite of the long days, left completely energized to use all the tips and tools you’ve learned? Advisor mastermind groups meetings leave members with the same feeling—a renewed energy to tackle challenges.

Finding, forming or facilitating a mastermind group

Mastermind groups run the gamut in terms of charter, participant requirements and the commitment of time/money. Most form through connections made by joining professional associations, attending national conferences or through your own firm’s network of advisors.

To take the initiative to launch your own group, be prepared to think through the structure. Here’s a list of general things to consider when getting started:

Finding participants. As you meet more advisors at similar stages in their businesses and you discuss the challenges or questions you both face, you may find potential members organically. If you’re affiliated with a large firm, you can see if other advisors are interested in participating. Associations like the FPA and NAPFA can also be helpful forums for connecting with potential participants. They can also be valuable resources for establishing guidelines and topics for discussion.

What’s the ideal group size? I like to keep the group at around 6-8 people. You want to bring together a group with a range of experiences but also afford people ample time to participate and share. 

How often should you meet? Plan for monthly meetings but you could also do semimonthly. I know some mastermind groups who have monthly meetings plus an annual two-day retreat. It really depends on the preference of the group and what will keep engagement high.

Who facilitates the meetings? If you are spearheading the group, you should plan to facilitate a few to set the stage, establish the flow and then each member can take turns running the meeting. Each advisor running the meeting should bring an issue, question or topic that they would like to bring to the group. They should introduce the topic and provide any relevant details that should be considered before opening it up to the group for feedback and insights. Or, you may wish to bring in someone to act as the ongoing facilitator—keeping the conversations on topic and productive.  A mentor of mine used to say, “We want givers, not just takers.” You want to make sure that the people in your group are willing to be givers of information and not just take other’s input—everyone must contribute to the cause and bolstering the success of the group members. 

The success of your business is predicated on the strength of you as an advisor. But, as the mastermind principle teaches, no individual has achieved success without the help and cooperation of others. Joining an advisor mastermind group with other smart, talented and creative advisors can pay dividends in terms of its return for your business and your personal growth. You may wonder how you will find the time but, perhaps the better question is, what kind of advisor will you be if you don’t?

The views expressed in this article are only those of Rob Richardson and are not necessarily the views of Franklin Templeton and should not be considered investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or adopt any investment strategy.

AUTHOR

Rob Richardson

Rob Richardson, CIMA®
Senior Vice President
Practice Management Spokesperson

LOCATION: San Mateo, California, USA
TENURE: 1995

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