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Evolving for the long term
Evolving for the long term

Jan 03 2023 / Round the Table Magazine

How I handled a tough decision in my practice

MDRT members explain how their business benefited from confronting difficult crossroads.

By Matt Pais

Topics Covered

From holding staff accountable to growing apart from a mentor to passing on a job opportunity because of caring for a loved one, advisors can face any number of difficult challenges. MDRT members shared during this episode of the MDRT Podcast how they dealt with tough decisions and how their business benefited. Hear more at mdrt.org/podcast.

Members participating:
Xiao Chen, CFP, a two-year MDRT member from Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, USA
Maria Josefa Garcia, a four-year MDRT member from Rosemont, Illinois, USA
Stacy L. Kahan, CLTC, a 28-year MDRT member from Skokie, Illinois, USA

Kahan: To hire the right person, you must have a very detailed job description of what their job is, expectations of the job and how you’ll hold them accountable. Now that many of my employees work remotely, it has become even more of a necessity to make sure they know what their job entails because they aren’t seeing and hearing managers and peers firsthand. At one point, when I was traveling frequently, I asked everyone to log in their daily calls and what was said on their calls. Then I would read over the logged calls nightly. I found mistakes along the way and worked with each individual to ensure they corrected them. Each individual was held accountable for their mistakes, and I would sit in on calls with the client as they corrected them. These lessons were imperative. Employees learned and grew from these lessons. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” I think taking the time to explain and make sure employees know what is expected of them, teach them and help them learn from their mistakes means the difference between providing clients with service versus outstanding service, and encourages a growth mindset in employers too.

Chen: I think one of the major decisions I had to make during my business career is when I started in the financial industry with a mentor. She’s a very warm person; she taught me a lot, everything I needed to know to get started in the business. But later, as I’ve gotten into a management role within the company, there were some fundamental, philosophical differences on how we run our businesses. We shared the same office for the longest time, and last year I decided, because of the conflict over how we train our staff and associates, it was not going to have the best outcome. So, I made the tough decision to move out of her branch to a different location and start on my own. I still maintain the utmost respect for her and still give her thanks for everything that she’s done for me. Last year, without her being involved in my day-to-day operations, I still achieved the same results. 

Were there any unexpected difficulties that came up after you made that change?

Chen: Obviously, when you start anything on your own, there are areas that you tend to overlook, because if you’re running your own shop, you’ve got to make sure everything is in place. Which is something that I didn’t do. When I first moved out, there were some awkward moments, but I think right now both of us feel it was the right move. So, it turned out it wasn’t as drastic of a change as I thought it would be.

Garcia: Thirteen years ago, my mom came to live with me. I come from a family of seven, but I was the one responsible for her caregiving. Obviously, we don’t have a steady paycheck within our business, and when I was offered a position with a major bank, I said, what do I do? She needs to be taken care of. I need to take care of her. I need to be there for her, and I need to make sure both of us are OK. Here’s something steady, but my current job is what I love. This is what I do. Just making that decision that if I was going to stay here, I needed to not only focus on her, but focus on what I needed to do to get the two of us through what we were going through.

It was a hard decision, but it was the right one. I decided to stay at my job and focus on what I needed to be successful and what things I needed to put in place. I was lucky enough to have her be with me. I just lost her in January 2021, but never was it an option to put her in a nursing home or anything like that. I was able to provide for her, and it was a very difficult decision, but it was the best one. I could just continue because, as we know, the flexibility we have when we’re our own bosses, I was there for her while providing for her financially.