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Can you feel it?
There’s a fundamental shift happening all around us – one that’s impossible to ignore. While the global pandemic has deeply altered the way we go about our lives, the changes it’s engendered when it comes to how we operate and how we succeed as financial advisory teams are irrevocable.
Most financial advisory teams lived or died at the hands of a select few team members: those who saw business development as their job and their job alone. And, while this was never an optimum strategy, it’s non-functional post-pandemic. Now, when it comes to business development, so many of our natural avenues have been cut off – our usual prospecting methodologies such as seminars, networking events, or even serendipitous, in-person meetings are gone. For finance teams that want to win – and that truly want to be at the top of their game – there’s only one option left: changing their mindset.
Financial advisory practices using only a handful of team members to prospect and engage in traditional business development will be usurped by teams that are trained to be causative.
What is a causative team, and what impact can it have?
Causative teams are especially powerful because their leaders know something that most people don’t. They understand that every member of their team – no matter their role, level of expertise, or personal characteristics –contributes to business development in an integral way. Traditionally, business development has been left to the most extroverted team members – those who appear to be the most gregarious or aggressive by conventional standards. This may have worked pre-pandemic when business development options were much more conventional, but introverted team members and those with diverse backgrounds also have significant niche value to add.
What’s even more frustrating is that now, as many in-person business development routes remain cut off, digital channels are over-saturated: it’s impossible to break through the noise on LinkedIn, email marketing is quickly fatigued, and digital ads are often too expensive to yield promising returns. It’s essential to turn to other options if you want your business to scale like never before. That means looking within and utilizing every avenue your internal team has to offer.
The hallmark of a causative team is the philosophy that every member sees it as their duty to contribute to business development and the growth of the team. I’ve been helping train financial advisory teams on the causative approach for over two decades, and throughout my experience, I’ve found that those who implement the approach quickly discover how the contribution of each member is critical to the business’s success and capacity as a whole. Early adopters of the causative team methodology have witnessed exponential business growth as teams have become unified behind a single purpose. In fact, a recent study conducted by a major Wall Street firm shows that implementing causative teams produced a 198% increase in new assets and a 329% increase in referrals in just 90 days.
Experts agree. According to a study cited by Harvard Business Review, diverse teams outperform teams that share the same skillset (even if the team that shares the same skill set is composed of experts). This evidence is further underscored by a McKinsey & Company study that reveals that team members from diverse backgrounds are more innovative than homogenous teams and perform up to 35 percent better.
Here's how you can start building your causative team today
What does it take to transform your team into a causative team?
Make your goal clear to your current team members. Explain that you see unique value in the individual contributions each team member brings and invite – rather than enforce – everyone on the team to step up. As a leader, communicate the unique opportunity your team has to embrace new avenues and various personalities in order to grow. Celebrate the contributions you witness your new team members make when they bring their one-of-a-kind gifts to the table.
Make sure your current team knows what a causative team looks like and invite them to co-create their definition with the team so that you gain agreement and achieve clarity. These ten traits make it easy to educate yourself and your team members on what that looks like:
On a causative team, every team member knows…
1. it’s his or her duty to contribute to growth
2. how to communicate the business’s singular, unforgettable value proposition that compels prospective clients to take the next step
3. their actions are celebrated, and no one’s work is taken for granted when it comes to holistic business development
4. they are comfortable with promotional activities and eagerly accepts outside assistance
5. there are codified systems in place so that, when an advocate is eager to promote the business, promotion can happen quickly and effectively
6. team leaders make it their purpose to leave a legacy of well-trained team members who are comfortable promoting the purpose, vision, and mission of the team
7. they can confront what it takes to scale business practices and that teams that aren’t scalable resent growth
8. they are prepared for promotional activities, so PR feels effortless
9. leaders easily leverage their introverted team members as much as their extroverted team members
10. how to use their emotional intelligence (EQ) and makes an effort to develop the EQ and acumen of the entire team
The most important thing to keep in mind throughout this process is your mindset: continuously cultivate the belief that everybody on your team is qualified to contribute to growth. A causative team has both depth and breadth and understands that traditional business development is an archaic, hamstrung model. Growth is everybody’s job; understanding this will empower your team members with more purpose, meaning, and reach. By aligning your whole team under a mission-driven approach to business development, your business will gain unparalleled capacity and scale.
Brooke Kelley is co-founder of The Kelley Group, a provider of education and training services to clients in the financial services industry.
Hong, Lu, and Scott E. Page. “Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-ability Problem-Solvers.” Sites.lsa.umich.edu, PNAS, 16 Nov. 2004,
Kelley, Brooke, and Sarano Kelley. “Coaching and Training Impact Study on Advisor’s Client Acquisitions.” Thekellygroup.net, The Kelley Group, Aug. 2021.
Hunt, Vivian, et al. “Diversity Matters.” McKinsey.com, McKinsey & Company, 2 Feb. 2015.
Satell, Greg, and Cathy Windschitl. “High-Performing Teams Start with a Culture of Shared Values.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing, 11 May 2021,
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