The following blog post was originally published in Advisor Perspectives.
If you haven’t read Part 1, take a step back and first read my previous blog that includes the first 10 rules for a successful study group. Study groups are a great tool and allow advisors to exchange helpful insights, but they can run your business into the ground. For your study group to succeed, you must know what you are getting into, the parameters you want to live by, and how you’re going to be sure to get the best of, not the worst of, the experience.
Here are the remaining rules I recommend you set up in advance of the very first meeting. If your group is already on a slippery slope toward irrelevance, initiate these rules ASAP!
11. Never allow a wholesaler to attend your meetings.
12. Do not allow any business between group members or situations that could create a conflict of interest.
13. Do not try to turn your study group into a co-op or negotiating tool with outside vendors. This never works and only serves to alienate members within the group.
14. Agree not to hire each other’s staff.
15. Decide in advance who will serve as the logistical organizer for the group. Use a staff member and not an actual study group member. Another possibility is to have each host be in charge of organizing the meeting they host (refer to item 3 in the previous post).
16. Everyone pays his or her share of the meeting costs. This is not a charity or an entitlement program. Furthermore, everyone must be willing and able to share ideas.
17. Be brutally honest. Do not suggest things that are not fully implemented and 110% successful for you. This is not an experimental laboratory or treasure hunt. Speak only to that which you know.
18. Don’t sugarcoat things that have gone awry for you, especially if someone else is considering the same. This doesn’t mean that what doesn’t work for one cannot work for another, but be truthful and forthright in everything you share.
19. Undersell; do not oversell. This is not a sales seminar; it is a study group.
20. When it’s time, it’s time. Stop meeting. If your study group has run its course, step away, take time off, or just dismantle it.
Participating in a well-run, successful study group can do great things for your practice and your future growth. But there are few things in life more frustrating or dangerous than a study group on a downward spiral. Always make sure you like and trust your group-mates. Be honest and forthright. And, when the expiration date arrives, don’t be afraid to address the elephant in the room! You’ll be doing everyone a favor, yourself included.