A New Boss Who Undervalues the Firm’s Story Beverly Flaxington
By Beverly Flaxington
February 4, 2014

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I work for a very large financial firm and have a problem with my boss, who was recently hired. She has been successful on the asset-management side of the business but not in wealth management. Her entire focus is on the investment process and the investment philosophy. Our clients hire us – and stay – because of an overall relationship, not just asset management. I am beginning to think she does not understand wealth management, so she stays away from talking about anything other than investments. Is there a way I can teach her how to value all of what we do? I don’t want to be threatening, but I know our clients are going to lose if she cannot convey overall value of the relationship.

Name withheld

Dear Financial Advisor,

As I wrote in last week’s column, it can be tricky to help someone who is your superior see the light about something. I like the attitude you have here. It sounds to me like you are interested in helping her understand more about the business – I gather this from your use of the word “teach.”

I agree with you – you should approach her in a non-threatening and non-accusatory way. Engage her as if you are giving her background on your clients and your business.

For example, you could share stories – “I was meeting with the Johnson Family and they referenced again how much they appreciate the entire relationship with our firm” — or you could point out a competitor who has made the mistake of focusing solely on the investment process and who is now struggling because of market movements. You could end with, “I’m thankful we are so robust here and don’t make the mistake of having an investment-only discussion with our clients.”

In other words, find subtle ways to tell her stories or bring her attention to things that show the value of having a more integrated, holistic approach.

If you ever have clients write you emails or notes thanking you for the full-service aspect of your business, you can share these with her. It might be a slow process whereby you give her tidbits and data points over time. She might not embrace it all right away, but with time she will likely see the difference your firm is making with clients and become more comfortable with the approach. You also mind find over time that her perspective has value too, and you could begin to incorporate some of her ways!

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