The Disruptive Rainmaker

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

Beverly Flaxington

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Dear Bev,

We brought a new advisor into our firm two years ago – a rainmaker. He brought a number of new clients to the firm, and some fresh ideas about portfolio management and our investment process. In the beginning he added a lot of value and we were excited to have him. Lately he has been more disruptive – boldly and publicly questioning some of the decisions my partners and I have made, and arguing about our buy and sell lists. I value openness and want people to feel free to question and debate, but his behavior has been very aggressive. He will slam his fists on the table in meetings and stalk out if we don’t acquiesce to his requests. I hate to lose him because he has contributed a lot to the firm, but I feel like we are being disrespected. Do I fire him or put up with the behavior?

Paul C., Boston, MA

Dear Paul:

Why is it that people who are bringing in the revenue think that they can carry on any way they want to with no consequences? It happens all too often. I believe “internal selling” skills are just as important as external selling skills. If you don’t know how to get your point across with your teammates and colleagues, what are you doing in front of prospects? You want to have a “come to the mountain” talk with this person but frame it around the internal selling issues. Explain the behavior you are observing and your concern that he cannot control his responses when he is upset. Explore what’s going on with him. This type of behavior usually represents some building frustrations that he may not be expressing clearly and professionally. Consider taking him out for a cup of coffee to talk. Sometimes having that personal discussion in a less threatening environment can yield interesting information. We often hesitate to do it because we don’t want to “encourage confrontation,” but the truth is that it will only escalate if you don’t get to the root of the issue with him.

Dear Bev,

We have an ongoing struggle in our office. As founder of the firm, I would like to see less reliance on our administrative staff to do things like return client calls, book travel or clean the boardroom after meetings. I believe everyone on our staff should be responsible for every task. The senior people chafe at this and say it isn’t a good use of their time. Am I wrong to believe we should all pitch in and do whatever it takes to run the firm?

Gwen S., Chicago IL

Dear Gwen:

Ah-hah – “it’s not my job!” But isn’t it the job of your administrative staff to do these things? Has it always been the policy of the company that senior staff are asked to do these things, or are you asking them to pitch in because someone else isn’t doing their job? And, Gwen, do you really want your senior level people cleaning up the boardroom? I don’t know what you are paying them, but I can imagine that having senior people on the phones trying to find business, or making clients happy would be much more productive than wiping up the table in the conference room! Think about what you really want here. Everyone should be doing the job they are hired to do – and then some, but they should be doing it in the most efficient way possible for the firm.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal,, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.


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