By: Jud Imhoff
You’re Only as Good as Your Staff

Think of your practice as a three-wheeled bicycle with a wheel representing people skills, product expertise and technology tools.  To move the bike forward, all three wheels need to move and work together.  As an advisor, you might have a good balance between all three “wheels” but does your staff?  If they don’t, how does that affect your practice?  How do poor people skills affect a client when you pass the client to a staff member?  When an insurance carrier offers a technology tool that may help make your practice be more efficient, how quickly can your staff start using it?  When faced with challenges, how creative is your team in problem-solving?

Today’s work environment benefits most when you strengthen the whole person and the entire team.

— Jud Imhoff

Remember your team is an extension of your business brand.   What they know, how they problem solve, and communicate all reflect back on you and your practice.   Today’s work environment benefits most when you strengthen the whole person and the entire team.  Look at the top performing organizations, a 2013 study found that 8 out of 10 employees in these organizations receive the training they need[1].  That training translated into a 90% likelihood of meeting business objectives[2].

Not taking the time for training could potentially cost your practice money in lost business, higher overhead, or lost clients.  This is why I founded the FFR University over 25 years ago.  So many of our member advisors were looking for a central forum for their staff to get training, stay current on industry topics and network with other individuals in the industry.    To this day, the FFR University is a valued training resource among the FFR advisors.

Where do you start? 

Meet with team members individually.  Ask:

1)      What do you do exceptionally well?  How would you teach someone else how to do that?

2)     What do you wish you could do better?  What new thing do you want to learn about?

3)     How often do you collaborate with other staff members?

4)     What experience, interest or ability do you think I am under-utilizing?

5)      What is your career ambition?

Next focus on you, as the practice’s leader: 

1)      How does my staff complement my abilities? 

2)     What do you wish your staff could do or do better? 

3)     How do I inspire or support creativity from my team?   How do I encourage collaboration?

4)     How often do I communicate with my staff?

5)      How does the team know our overall business goals? 

Then bring your staff together to discuss:

1)      How do we create a “learning” environment? 

2)     How do we help each other grow and develop professionally and personally?

3)     Where can we find training resources to help “supplement” what we do as a team?

Your staff may hold the key to many of the solutions.   This may be the first of many opportunities for collaboration.  Next, consider outside resources such as financial services companies and insurance carriers.   Many offer “added-value training” topics.  While there are many things you can learn online, don’t discount the value of human interaction.  In-person training is invaluable. 

Ultimately, staff training comes down to the leadership of the practice.  “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”[3]  When you take the first steps, you potentially lead your team to tomorrow’s business growth.

Jud Imhoff,  CLU,FLMI,ChFC is Chief Executive Officer for First Financial Resources, LLC.  First Financial Resources (FFR) is a producer group founded in 1987 and solely owned by its member advisors and based in Newport Beach, California.  You can reach Jud at

[1] IBM Smarter Workforce (Kenexa) 2013 Survey, “Value of Training”, IBM, 2014.

[2] IDC’s Training Impact on Projects Survey, 2011, “Value of Training”, IBM, 2014.

[3] John Quincy Adams.