Blog|3 min

Grow Your Firm With a Trusted Advisor Culture

Amy Franko
Author, The Modern Seller; B2B Sales Consulting & Training

Trusted advisor. It might be an overused title, but it is more important than ever to our clients, especially in the digital age. Think of a trusted advisor as an individual or a group helping their ideal clients to significantly improve their businesses—and their lives. To be a trusted advisor, you must be someone who is recognized as a differentiator in your client's eyes. Someone seen as a partner in their success.

Traits of a Trusted Advisor

Whether you’re an individual contributor or a leader developing your team, there are several key characteristics of trusted advisors to keep in mind, grow, and nurture.

First, let’s consider how you are seen by your clients and prospects.

While working with a client or prospect, a trusted advisor demonstrates many important traits. Most notably, a trusted advisor thinks strategically and brings a visionary element to working with clients and prospects. The more that you can bring a future vision to help your clients navigate toward the future while maintaining context, you will become less of a “transactional” relationship to them and more of a partner. As a trusted advisor, you excel at spotting trends and connecting the dots between ideas, and you are calm and confident. You have a vitality about you that helps you “click” with clients and prospects. You are decisive and confident.

A trusted advisor is also visible within the firm and the community—for example, serving on committees and volunteering on boards.

On a personal level, a trusted advisor is well-read and curious. You practice self-care, and you realize that not everyone will heed your advice.

But most importantly, to be a trusted advisor, you first must trust yourself.

Putting Culture to Work

The concept of a trusted advisor also pertains to firm culture—one that begins with firm leadership and is carried out at the individual level in daily interactions. It is defined within the firm, it is actively incorporated into client engagements, and it is formally and informally reinforced.

As a result, that defined culture is integrated into your processes for a positive impact on staff and clients.

Firms with a trusted advisor culture may incorporate that culture into areas such as hiring, onboarding, strategy, marketing, development, client experience, technology stacks, meeting culture, and professional development opportunities.

Building a Trusted Advisor Framework

To fully incorporate a trusted advisor culture within your firm, the best strategy is to create a trusted advisor framework. Frameworks allow us to think strategically, so that we can then build out a tactical plan.

You can see the trusted advisor framework below:

Internal Culture

The internal culture that you create—the traits, the way you operationalize yourselves, and your focus on creating and sustaining the trusted advisor culture internally—are what help you show up in the way that you want to be recognized in the marketplace.

Marketplace Culture

Your marketplace culture reflects external actions. This includes your operations, your results, how your culture is received in the greater community, how it is received by your clients, and how it is received in recruiting circles. The trusted advisor culture touches everything in the marketplace.

Framework Core

Within the middle of the trusted advisor framework are categories to consider. For example, how you define being a trusted advisor within your firm, what traits, behaviors and skills you value in trusted advisors, what processes you will follow, what solutions you will deliver, and what tools and programs you will employ.

Transitioning into a trusted advisor role and firm may sound simple, but it takes creating a different way of thinking and cultivating new behaviors. Remember: The trusted advisor approach is about developing long-term client value and not just securing a short-term transaction.

When you put the trusted advisor culture and framework into place, you and your firm become irreplaceable partners.

Ready to grow your firm with a trusted advisor culture? Bookmark our Driving Digital Transformation series to hear from today’s industry thought leaders who have been there, done that, and are sharing what they've learned along the way.