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How New Financial Advisors Can Recover from Failure

In my previous post on What to do with Failure?, I mentioned that new financial advisors tend either to internalize their failures (it is always my fault) or to externalize their failures (it is always the prospect’s fault).  We move toward one of these two extremes naturally; however, you stand to learn a ton by just taking a moment to carefully examine what led to the failure.

Consider the list below.  At one end is self-blame, and at the other end is blaming everyone else.  The sweet spot is right in the middle.  You stand to gain the most from the failure by pausing for a moment to take stock of what happened — observe and recover.

  • Internalize & overwhelm
  • Observe & recover
  • Blame & avoid

As a New Financial Advisor, How Do I Recover From Failure?

There are several age-old formulas that can be used to take stock of the situation.  Here are just two:

  • Start, Stop, Continue.
  • What went well? What didn’t? What would you change?
  • Phase by Phase postmortem

Start, Stop, Continue

This one is most common in performance evaluations.  For your latest prospect meeting, seminar or other client facing moment, simply write down what actions or behaviors you would like to see yourself starting, stopping or continuing for the next time you perform this activity.

What went well? What didn’t? What would you change?

This is quite similar to start, stop, continue from above, and is most commonly performed with a coach or any person who has an outside perspective.

Phase by phase

The phase by phase postmortem is perhaps the most thorough.  This method is often used when you are critiquing a client facing meeting and you are using at least one step in your sales funnel.  What you do here is simply to document what you learned at every step of your sales process.

  • Did you transition well between your opening small talk and your initial discussion?
  • Did you transition into your fact finding segment well?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Did you find enough emotion when drilling down into what the client wants to achieve in their future?


When you encounter your next failure, don’t blame yourself.  Don’t blame others.  Just take a minute to assess what happened.  No matter what path you choose, at least do something to write down and capture what you experienced.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can hold all of this in your head.  You must write it down.  I have known new financial advisors who have a bit of a library of lessons they have learned.  It takes a bit of discipline, but the paybacks are well worth the investment.