Steven R. McCarty
LifeHealthPro.com/author/steven-mccarty BEST PRACTICE
In financial services, most ethical/legal problems are self-inflicted. Sophisticated, large Ponzi schemers are outliers. Much
more common are advisors who A) make
unforced errors through inattention or sloppiness or B) aren’t well grounded in principle.
Those in category B have no fixed beliefs.
Are there things they’d never do to get or keep
a client? Is making money their prime directive? Why does this matter? Because advisors
who know what they stand for achieve three
1. Their marketing efforts are stronger.
An ethics-based value proposition cuts through
the market clutter and powerfully connects
with prospects, leading to more suspects
2. Their sales efforts are more efficient.
Time to close is shorter because their enhanced
credibility breaks down mistrust before it
becomes a brick wall.
3. Their communications and customer-service activities are more effective.
This creates stronger and more profitable
The problem is, most financial advisors
never put their values on paper. This is a
mistake because it makes them vulnerable to
ax-grinding third parties or to self-blinding
expediency. Either way, without ethical values
clearly defined, they and their staff (if any) are
prone to making poor choices that can erode
trust, goodwill and future sales.
So how do you identify your core ethical
values and communicate them to others?
Here’s a brief suggested process.
FIRST, write down the names of five to 10
successful financial advisors in your region
and/or industry niche. Why do you admire
them? What values do they appear to stand
for? Which of those values resonate most
strongly with you?
SECOND, define the values and expectations of
your key stakeholders. These may include family, clients, business partners, your FMO’s top
executives, marketing leaders at your insur-ance/investment product manufacturers, your
staff, opinion leaders in your industry niche,
regulators and the general public.
THIRD, ponder the values you hold most
dear. What are your own cherished dreams,
and what values will help you achieve them?
Consider including business-oriented values
• Customer service • Quality
• Innovation • Safety/reliability
• Efficiency • Transparency
Also think about personal values such as:
• Integrity • Honesty
• Openness • Respect
• Fairness • Responsibility
FOURTH, based on prior steps, create a list of
your top 10 ethical values and show it to sev-
eral trusted colleagues. Using their feedback,
winnow the list down to your top five. Create
a document titled: “This I Believe: The Core
Values of My Company.”
Now the most important step: Integrate
this content into your marketing program.
Include it in all your marketing collateral and
on your website. Build it into your online
social media profiles and your seminar pre-
sentations. Turn it into a poster or plaque for
your office. The sky’s really the limit.
Finally, consider joining groups that amplify
your values, including the Society of Financial
Services Professionals and the National Ethics
Association and display their logos proudly on
your website and collateral.
This is not a complex process, but it is soul-searching. Take your time. Do it right. Because
to sprint to success in sales or in any other
aspect of your professional life, you must first
know what you stand for … ethically. RA
To sprint ahead, stand for ethics
Have you written down
your values to help avoid
Share your process
on this article at