I was drawn to the financial advice industry from the moment I graduated from college. Math and analytics came easy to me; I like people; the financial markets fascinated me; and financial planning advice is a commodity that most people need.
It felt like a perfect marriage.
But there is one other overarching factor that influenced my decision to pursue a career as a financial adviser: freedom.
Unfortunately, most financial advisers lose freedom as their practices grow. Fortunately for me, however, at nearly the precise moment in my career when our firm was really hitting its stride and I was increasingly buried, by working with a professional coach, I adopted a framework of four freedoms (time, money, people and purpose) that helped guide me as I made decisions that impacted my life and my career.
Early in my career, I had a lot of time, but very little money. I went to work for a national firm that gave me sales training and a small, decreasing stipend. I didn’t have much freedom to choose the people I worked with as I desperately needed clients. And frankly, I didn’t have much freedom when it came to fulfilling my purpose (the things I do best and which motivate me and bring me joy) as I needed money, so I sold pretty much whatever financial product I could to whomever I could find.
It was a vicious cycle.
As my career blossomed, there was a shift in areas of freedom. I was making money, which took away the financial stress. But as my practice grew, I found I had less freedom of time because I had clients I needed to serve and, as I wasn’t very good at drawing boundaries, the daily responsibilities of running a practice (hires, leases, training, systems, reps) were drowning me.
It was after working with a coach that I began to diligently organize my work and my life to emphasize the most freedoms. This even included firing my highest-paying client, who paid me tens of thousands of dollars each year but who demanded an inordinate amount of my time.
Today, I look at every business decision through the framework of these four freedoms. Will bringing on a new associate increase my free time? What about partnering with another firm? How about raising capital, either through debt or an equity partner? What about turning off my phone every Friday? Or accepting (or rejecting) a speaking engagement? (Which is something that I truly enjoy.)
Nothing is perfect, and there is typically a trade-off between one freedom and another. The key that I try to teach advisers is to find a balance where they maintain the maximum freedom that enables them to focus on their purpose.
That’s because I have found that having a sense of purpose is essential for happiness.
If you find yourself stuck in a position where you don’t have the freedom you once had, ask yourself what steps you could take to achieve the maximum balance of the four freedoms. It might only take a few minor tweaks, or, it could necessitate a massive change in the direction for your business.
Either way, the key is to find a balance with your freedoms so that you are the very best adviser, person, manager or principal you can be.
[More: Hire above your weight]
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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.