By Jennifer Mann
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve, both in your practice, and as an individual. Fortunately, there’s a wide array of successful advisors who you can gather useful tips and strategies from, to influence your own growth.
One way to meet these advisors and pursue this growth? Study groups! Investing time into a group of fellow financial professionals with shared goals can elevate both your personal and professional life.
Basics Of A Study Group
A study group consists of individuals working together to solve difficult cases and garner business advice from peers. What binds the group together is shared goals, as well as expectations or guidelines established by the group.
Some study groups are formal, larger groups with set agendas. Others are more casual and consist of fewer individuals, where the agenda is based around conversation or catching up with other members. There is much variation in the structure of study groups, as they are all tailored to meet the needs of their members. Finding the right study group may take time, but it will be worth the investment as you grow alongside your fellow group members.
My study group consists of five female MDRT members seeking opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Over the nine years we have been together, we’ve had an informal meeting structure.
We get together once a month via Zoom and meet in person twice a year. Our in-person weekends include a Friday evening to catch up, with Saturday morning being our business meeting. We also include a fun activity, like spa reservations.
What’s In It For You?
Study groups provide opportunities to learn new skills and garner insights from fellow financial services professionals. With vastly different experiences and a flow of new clients, each member brings invaluable perspectives on case studies and general business practices. This could include what products members have found success with, hiring staff, specific tax laws you may encounter, finding new prospects and more.
Study groups also create a sense of community that provide friendly faces you can turn to in your profession. As you face challenges with your practice, you now have a network of colleagues you can rely on for advice on how to proceed.
Within my own group, I’ve found trusted colleagues and friends who are invested in my growth and well-being. When we were first starting out, we hired a business coach who helped us create business plans for each of our respective careers. Our business plans are now completed, and we’ve since parted ways with our consultant – but we still gather to refine our business strategies and help each other meet big life milestones.
For example, a fellow group member shared that I could increase my productivity by using a program to dictate my notes from meetings. What seemed like a simple suggestion at the time has helped me take on more clients and be more present during meetings.
We’ve grown close over the years, and we’re there for each other’s big moments. From raising kids to getting married to moving or finding new companies to work at, we’ve supported each other along the way. My group also helped me make the life-changing decision to become a single mother and raise my kids on my own. I value the fact that my study group has not only helped me find success professionally, but personally as well.
Build Your Own Study Group
Forming a study group looks different for everyone, based on what you’re looking to achieve together. Some groups are already established, so the process of joining may just be connecting with a member and finding a way to get involved — while starting a group may take extra effort and time.
If you are starting your own group, search for members at industry events like the MDRT Annual Meeting, through networking or by searching for like-minded professionals online. These groups may form quickly or take several months to get everyone aligned and start meeting.
What’s most important is to ensure the whole group is aligned on the group expectations and goals. Take time to work out guidelines and expectations with your group, to fully define the purpose. This can be whatever feels appropriate to your goals. Our group began as we volunteered in different MDRT committees and found a common interest in growing as women in financial advising, and as people.
We set the expectation that we would support one another both as professionals and as women. Since we all started with a business plan, it was easy to understand our expectations. We re-visit our purpose yearly to ensure the group is still of benefit to each of us.
My own study group has helped spark positive change in my life while expanding my knowledge in financial advising, and I’m grateful to the people who have helped make this possible. By joining a group of your own, you will be able to find ways to improve your practice and a group of fellow professionals to lean on.
About the Author
Jennifer Mann is a Vice President in the Chicago office of Lenox Advisors who has been with the firm since 2012 and an MDRT member for 18 years. She primarily works with high-net-worth families and executives to develop integrated solutions in the areas of estate planning, retirement planning, insurance planning, wealth management, college funding, and employee benefits.