All bank advisors have hit sticking points in their practice. The question is: How long do you remain stuck?

Are you stuck at your current level of production. If so, what have you done differently recently to break out to that “next level?”

Have you tested any new marketing systems or learned that new client management software your branch has upgraded to? Are you in the flow of continuous improvement or are you so stuck you have dialed down your expectations?

I have good news and bad news if you are feeling stuck. The bad news is while you are stuck, your clients can leave to competitors. The good news is that in order to race forward you don’t need to do 10,000 things well.

In fact, there are only seven. These magnificent seven tasks are what I call the “roadmap” to success for bank advisors.

To be sure, you can become successful if you don’t do all seven. But you may end up working a lot harder than necessary.

Mastering this seven-step roadmap is about working smarter, not harder. So let’s begin with step one.

The first step in your journey to the “next level” is branding yourself. Yes, your bank has a brand but ultimately clients have a relationship with you, so like it or not, you are your own brand. Branding is the art of deciding the type of relationship you want with clients and then delivering an experience so that clients perceive the image you want. A tagline and a logo is simply a promise of an experience while a true brand delivers on that promise consistently.

In the big picture, brands typically fall within three categories: discount, standard, and luxury.

It is OK to have more than one brand. For example, GM has Chevy and Cadillac, among others. It is very important that you deliver on your brand standards and they aren’t confusing. In other words, be crystal clear on what you pay and what you get.

Remember, there is a reason why a Cadillac costs more than a Chevy and as long as people see that they are getting value, they generally have no issue with that.

The second step in your journey is systematizing everything in your practice. You made a brand promise to your client when they chose to work with you. In order to deliver on that promise you need systems.

Consider Toyota, likely the most studied company in the world when it comes to workflow and process improvement. One of its principles is that there are no perfect systems; rather, you should always strive to continuously improve them.


Once you improve a system you standardize it so any staff member doing that system does it the same way. Any work that you do that does not provide value to the client is waste. By eliminating waste you improve client service while reducing errors and expenses.

The good news is that most banks provide the tools you need to standardize every system. The bad news is that very few bank advisors have taken the time necessary to learn and utilize those tools optimally for themselves and for all of their support team.

The third step on your roadmap to success is to offer premium products and services.

Notice I did not say “good” products and services. An example of a “premium” product is a front-row seat at a concert. Did you ever see the front row empty? Why don’t those people in the front row just buy two balcony seats for the same price of one front-row seat? 

What products and services represent the “front row” in your business and how are they priced? If you want to serve the luxury market and brand yourself as a luxury brand offering, premium products and services are essential.

If you work with other professionals in your branch, such as mortgage and trust specialists, you need to be consistent when delivering premium service.

The client can’t get premium service from one person and then discount service from another. It needs to be consistent across the board.

The fourth step in your roadmap to success is lead generation. How to get new clients is often the number-one constraint for a bank advisors.

I made this the fourth step on the roadmap for a simple reason. What good is sitting in front of a prospect if you can’t describe how you are different from other advisors (branding);  don’t have a clear-cut service model (systems) and can’t describe how your premium service differs from your standard service? Many bank advisors  don’t generate enough leads; not for lack of knowledge but for lack of time.

You need to have good systems in place to create the time you need to generate new clients. I have a very simple rule when it comes to generating leads. If you don’t have at least three good referral systems, why are you doing anything else?

More than half of all new clients come by referrals and it costs you nothing to ask. You should have at least three different ways to ask for referrals that are effective before doing any other type of lead generation, period.

The fifth step on your roadmap to success is having simple and effective product and service presentations. What makes a good presentation? It should be short enough to fit on one page, easy to understand and when you present it, you generally don’t have to “sell” because the client just buys.

You should have one such presentation for every product you have to offer including investments, insurance (all types), mortgages, annuities, financial plans and loans.

If you find that more than 70% of your income comes from just one product even though you are licensed to sell several, it generally means you can improve your presentation skills in those other products.


The sixth step on your roadmap is managing your staff and team members. Some of those team members may be your direct reports, some may be indirect reports.

All of the people who interact with your clients are a part of your brand experience. Your leadership is important for that experience to be what you promised.

Bank advisors are generally trained to work with clients, not staff. If your staff provides poor service who does that reflect on? Everyone.

When I interview nationally ranked bank advisors, they always praise the great team they have and how it translates into excellent client service. You are the person that needs to lead that team and your leadership needs to be, above all, consistent.

The seventh step on the roadmap to success is having great energy and health.

It makes no sense to sacrifice your health to grow your business. A consistent program of healthy eating and exercise will give you the energy needed to implement the other six steps.

In the future, I will do deep dives on each of these seven steps in follow-up articles.

For now, all you need to do is test the ideas and find out what works for you. Don’t assume anything. Continuous improvement means continuous testing and evaluating the results.

At least half of the time you will find something that you thought would work will fall flat and something you thought would fall flat will be an enormous success.

You will only find out which is which by testing.

Todd Colbeck is president of Colbeck Coaching Group. He can be reached at Contact him if you want his 10 best referral systems.

Read more:

Clearing All The Hurdles To Become a Top Advisor

Best Efforts at Finding the Right Book Value

Mining Your Professional Network

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