In times of crisis, people change how they think and behave — a new set of societal norms evolve. In the wake of the recent financial tsunami, the relationship between financial advisors and their affluent clients has fundamentally shifted. It will never be the same.

In an attempt to get to the heart of the issue, The Oechsli Institute conducted four independent studies between the first and third quarters of this year. We felt it was imperative to research not only financial advisors, but affluent investors, wealth management teams, and sales management. Our studies allowed us to define what is most important to today's affluent investor and what elite advisors are doing to meet their expectations. We've labeled these elite financial professionals New World Advisors.

The New World Advisor model is comprised of seven components, described below. Your challenge is to conduct an honest self-assessment of how you're performing within each category. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.

  1. Leadership

    New World Advisors are leaders. Like all strong leaders, they have superb communication skills, which make them masterful sales people. Today's best advisors are experts at inspiring and directing fellow team members, clients, prospects, referral alliance partners, and anyone with whom they come into contact. They are persuasive and their leadership is always present.

  2. Life-Long Learner

    Guiding and advising affluent families through this financial crisis requires a depth and breadth of knowledge. New World Advisors have open minds and are able to embrace change. This flexibility allows them to craft a workable recovery strategy for clients that they can communicate with confidence and clarity. Today's affluent suffer from information overload. New World Advisors can transform this information into knowledge.

  3. Professional Practice Management

    Practice management is the glue that holds any business together. Without clear policies and procedures, a good match between employees and their professional responsibilities, and an atmosphere of ongoing improvement, the business suffers. New World Advisors take practice management seriously and are always striving to improve.

  4. Comprehensive Wealth Management

    In the wake of the financial crisis, the affluent have higher expectations of their advisors. Gone are the days when one can offer lofty promises without worrying about delivering on those promises. Today's affluent demand solutions providers who can oversee all aspects of their families' financial affairs. New World Advisors deliver these solutions.

  5. Business Development (Rain-making)

    New World Advisors excel in affluent client acquisition. They understand the affluent, they develop loyal affluent clients, and they have mastered the art of affluent selling. They are very adept at penetrating centers-of-influence. The New World Advisor represents the small cadre of financial professionals who are bringing in new affluent relationships at a faster pace than any others in their profession.

  6. Balance (Health)

    New World Advisors pay close attention to their mental and physical health. Although they are in no way pleased about our current financial crisis, they refuse to accept blame or suffer guilt over the state of their clients' portfolios. Why? It's neither healthy nor necessary. Instead, they are proactive, spending quality time with their clients, implementing recovery strategies and remaining extremely active in every aspect of their lives. The adage, “if you really want to get something done, give it to a busy person,” holds true for this elite group

  7. Loyal Clients (Affluent Loyalty)

    Recent events have put client loyalty under stress. Regular financial advisors have lost clients they never thought they would lose, but New World Advisors have not lost any. Many advisors were surprised to discover that the major reason they lost good clients was poor service. It wasn't investment performance! This has been a major ‘aha’. Performance is important but only one of many criteria today's affluent investor consider important.

At first glance this can seem overwhelming. But don't allow your thinking to follow that path. Rather, take one client, one prospect, one strategic referral alliance at a time and work diligently to re-brand yourself as a New World Advisor.

Writer's BIO:

Matt Oechsli
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com