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Mentor RIA Consulting

Allowing you to focus on what you do best

My Blog


It's Not about You

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 4:12 PM Comments comments (0)
A disturbing trend that has seemed to manifest itself much more often these days is the focus of some folks on personalizing everything. Whether in business or personal life, we see people who always make the topic of discussion about them and usually in a sense that they either feel wronged or superior to others. In the workplace, this may appear where an employee feels aggrieved about a new rule and tells a supervisor or fellow employee that the change is aimed at the employee and intended to make things more difficult for him or her. This could be as simple as a business mandating that the phones must be covered so everyone cannot go to lunch at the same time or limiting personal use of phones or computers at work.

Understandably, everyone wants to relate things to their own situation not only because that is what they are most familiar with but also because that is where they see the impact of the change. In most cases it will not even occur to these folks that the reason for a particular change is about something bigger than they are – for example, the employer’s business which provides them with a job and a paycheck. Worse, it won’t occur to them to ask about the reasons or to accept them when they are communicated.

You might say, well that is just too bad, life goes on and folks will need to adjust to the new rule. That is true, but it does not mean that is how people will react, particularly at first. There will be lost work time due to complaining to others, sulking, attempts to get around the rule – anything, in fact, but simply finding a way to get the job done with consideration for that change.

What might an employer do? Engage the employees before there is a change, explain the needs of the company and ask what approaches the employees might suggest. They may come up with a better idea and by participation in the discussion, they will be taking some level of ownership in the change. That will make the transition a bit smoother and help to remove personality from decisions that should not be based on individual perceptions but on the company’s actual needs and goals.

You Never Stop Learning

Posted on December 30, 2015 at 4:44 PM Comments comments (0)
I remember back when I was in college hearing about what was then termed the “professional student”, a person who stayed in college after completing a course of study and receiving a degree. Usually relying on his or her parents, the professional student would go on to another program and pursue another degree, putting off for as long as possible the necessity of getting a job. Of course, there is nothing wrong with learning and continuing to learn, but some form of application of that learning seems to be reasonable.

Nowadays, with my interest in various subjects continuing and changing over time, I can safely say I have never stopped learning. I just have not let the learning get in the way of working and earning a living at the same time as that professional student was alleged to have done.

Now, I don’t want you to confuse learning with mandatory continuing education requirements we find in many fields of thought. All too often in those situations you will see folks who sign in at the beginning and disappear at the first break. When the entity providing the CE figures this out and requires the attendees to be present to sign out at the end, these same folks are found working their smartphones, reading headlines, texting friends and colleagues or just about anything they can do to avoid actually learning.

I am sure a part of this ill behavior is that the “learning” is mandatory. Further, that some of the so-called learning is unhelpful, boring or even incorrect.  When one has an interest in a subject and chooses to spend their own time and money pursuing it, that person will do some real learning and will have chosen quality resources to do that learning.

If you have experienced any trouble with continuing education requirements, perhaps you should consider taking control of your learning and find congenial and effective sources that satisfy you and also the requirements. It will be much better all round and leave you with better knowledge for what you do.  

Training Opportunity with the Annual Review

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (0)
Working up your annual review and update for your RIA business requires you to take a close look at your firm’s processes and disclosures as well as other aspects of the business. Clearly, this is a good time to communicate with your staff and employees about these items. What you – or your employees – do not know about your business operations CAN hurt you.

One way to look at the discussion here is as a training opportunity. You and your compliance personnel will already be involved in preparation of the annual update and so the concepts, changes and potential issues will be front of mind. Leverage that energy and information to engage your staff in the process, ensuring that you know what they are and have been doing AND that they understand what they should be doing, and why.

This is not to say that staff members are not doing their jobs properly or that you have not been paying enough attention to what they are doing. It does say that with this training/review both you and your staff can have confidence that you are doing things right and that you will not be found lacking in an audit.  It is also an opportunity to address changes in the regulatory environment and bring everyone up to speed at the same time you are updating your disclosures and processes.

There is plenty to think about and train on, ranging from your trading processes to the use of social media, from the staff’s personal accounts and investments to the investment selections you made for your clients, and much more. Even if you feel comfortable with your compliance situation, it will be good to keep it fresh and important for you and your staff.

Another benefit of this approach is the engagement of the staff, since being able to ask questions, make suggestions and state opinions is important to a successful firm. Finally, this tying of training on processes to the preparation of the annual update reduces the burden of preparation and also reduces the risks for the firm going forward.

Making Staff Training Work for You

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (1)
Summer is on its way out and thoughts turn to the start of another school year across the land. Though we often see our receiving a degree as the end of a process, it is important to remember that learning can and should continue long after we have left high school, college, and even grad school behind. Our businesses continue to evolve and we – and our colleagues – should not overlook the benefits of additional education and growth.
One way to address this need is through participation in seminars and trainings designed to keep us fresh and informed about changes in the rules, the approaches and the best practices in our chosen fields. Carefully selected, trainings can help the firm and its employees in many ways. A session could - 
·         - Help staff understand why a procedure or process is the way it is and why it is important. For example, what is advertising by an RIA, what can and cannot be said, why it is reviewed before dissemination and how a firm could be penalized for failing to follow the rules.
·         - Engage staff in process and procedures, building their skill levels in new areas and giving them new tasks. This helps increase interest, productivity and even retention.
·         - Help an employer find new ways particular employees can be involved, challenged and interested, thus improving the business work flow and the business environment.
·         -  Actually build team spirit when the group goes through the training together and can draw from one another’s experiences to make it more effective. This is where management needs to be on the same level with other staff so all can learn and feel a part of things – erasing, even if only temporarily, the divisions between jobs.
·        -  Bring everyone up to the same level on a new tool that is going to be used in the business. The learning can be more effective when all participate and question so that different tasks are considered in applying the new tool.

There are many more ways to look at how trainings can benefit the RIA firm and its employees – this list is but a taste. Think about what areas might be useful to pursue with your staff and try it out. You may be surprised by how much positive difference it will make. Finally, don’t overlook required trainings or continuing education that may be necessary to maintain a certification for you or your colleagues. This is a very good reason for attending a training, though (as you may have experienced) all too often these classes are not particularly well organized and go in one ear and out the other.