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 Adviser Bookshelf

Brilliant business ideas.

Welcome to the Adviser Bookshelf

The world is full of brilliant business thinkers ready and willing to share their ideas and theories on how you can build a better business.

Browse through a bookshop or search online and you’ll find thousands of books offering you advice and guidance. How can you possibly find the time to read through and find ideas that will work for you?

Let us help you

We’ve chosen 10 of the hottest business books around and read and reviewed them for you. We’ve also gone one step further and pulled out the ideas we think are most relevant to you as an adviser. To save you time, we’ve summarised the main points and put together a list of top tips from each of those 10 books.

All of the top tips are now available in our exclusive guide

The Chimp Paradox: The mind management programme for confidence, success and happiness

Richard Wilkinson, from Aviva, recommends this book and discusses how it can help financial advisers in having conversations with clients.

Learn more about how The Chimp Paradox can help you and your business below.

Want to find out more? Read The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters.

Improve your productivity

Productivity tips guide

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R Covey

Highly profitable business needs highly effective people

To be successful, we all need to be more and more efficient and open to change.

The international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey explores the seven most valuable habits you can develop to improve your business performance.

The seven habits and how they could be useful to your business

  • Be proactive
    Control your environment rather than letting it control you. Improve the things you can influence (like your internal system processes) rather than simply reacting to external forces.
  • Begin with the end in mind
    Know where you’re going to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Have strategic goals for your business, your client set and even your marketing plans.


  • Put first things first
    Separate what’s important from what’s urgent. Put the clients who will make you money first. Don’t be diverted by urgent but unimportant affairs.
  • Think ‘win-win’
    Resolve situations with a mutually beneficial outcome. A win for all is a better long-term solution than just one person getting their way.
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
    Listen to understand rather than to reply. One of the best ways to retain clients is to show you understand them. Let them feel valued.
  • Synergise
    Make the most of individuals in a company to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Look out for individual team members’ strengths to create a much stronger, more efficient team.
  • ‘Sharpen the saw’
    Take time out to re-energise. Running a business can be stressful and draining, so give yourself time to renew your mental, emotional, physical and social powers.

From ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey, published by Simon & Schuster. Used by permission of Simon & Schuster.

Want to find out more?
Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change  by Stephen R Covey.

Getting Things Done: Stress-Free Productivity

Getting Things Done

By David Allen

Improving productivity and profitability without the stress

Profitability can be a direct result of high productivity. It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed in the fast-moving environment of a financial adviser.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen reveals how you can manage your actions and your time. Many well-known companies, big and small, have used his approach.

Five practical tools and methods to help you stay relaxed and in control

  • Regain control of your day-to-day tasks to make time for long-term projects
    You need mental energy to think beyond day-to-day tasks. Clear your mind by deciding next steps and setting up automatic reminders to pop up at the right time.
  • Learn to manage your actions rather than your time
    It’s easy to waste time if you don’t set out next steps and actions for all the things that need your attention. Manage your next action by choosing whether to do it quickly, delegate it appropriately or defer it.


  • Understand the different stages of effective workload management
    Master your workflow with five key stages:
    - Collect things that demand your attention.
    - Process what they mean and what you could do about each of them.
    - Organise the results into categories such as ‘trash’ or ‘do at a specific time’.
    - Review each of the actions in your personal organisation system.
    - Do the action you can complete given your time, energy and priorities.
  • Use your brain for what it was intended
    Find your preferred method to capture all your thoughts and actions, such as writing a ‘someday/maybe’ list of ideas you’d like to explore but can’t do right now. That will free up your mind for quality decision-making instead.
  • Make big things happen
    Make things happen sooner, better and more successfully by defining your purpose and principles first then planning how to do it. Don’t create the plan retrospectively.

From ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, published by Piatkus Books. Used by permission of Little, Brown Book Group.

Want to find out more?

Read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

Good to Great

Good To Great

By Jim Collins

How great companies achieve sustained profitability

In the face of huge industry and regulatory challenges, advisers need to make their business stand out in a market of ever-increasing competition.

In Good to Great, a global phenomenon in business literature, Jim Collins reveals powerful lessons for all businesses – to help you achieve breakthrough business performance.

Six lessons for your business

  • Leadership is key
    Great companies are run by self-effacing, quietly determined figures, who have risen up through the company and know it intimately – not big personalities parachuted in as saviours. Think Terry Leahy rather than Bob Diamond. It’s therefore worth promoting and training from within.
  • First who ... then what
    Great companies get the right people in the right role in the team before they decide what they are going to do. Do you have the right team? For example, can one of your team members accelerate your digital knowledge?


  • Confront the brutal facts (yet never lose faith)
    Great companies face the stark facts about their business, but with faith that they will succeed in the long term. Look at the hard facts and confront any difficult obstacles calmly and decisively.
  • The 'Hedgehog Concept'
    Great companies have a simple and clear goal that they stick to whatever happens, like a hedgehog curling up to protect itself. They are clear about what they’re great at and have a passion for. They’re also clear about what they are not good at. How can you create a commercial advantage by focusing on what you are good at?
  • A culture of discipline
    Great companies have disciplined people working with an ethic of entrepreneurship. Don’t always focus on processes. Think about instilling discipline throughout your business too. This could be putting your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.
  • Technology accelerators
    Great companies use technology to support what they’re good at, but are selective about the technologies they invest in. Consider which technologies could accelerate your business. For example, it might be that investing in Skype could support servicing your clients differently.

From ‘Good to Great' by Jim Collins, published by Random House. Used by permission of Random House Group Limited.

Want to find out more?
Read Good to Great  by Jim Collins.

E-Myth Revisited

The E-myth Revisited

By Michael E Gerber

Discover the key ingredients for developing a prosperous small business venture

‘Time is money’ has never been truer for small businesses. But many fail – or make little money – because the business owners run their business with the wrong goals in mind.
E-myth Revisited reveals the lessons successful small businesses adopt. The author, Michael E Gerber, runs a large company that specialises in helping small businesses to grow. In this book, he shares some of the valuable lessons he’s learned.

Five insights into growing a business and increasing profitability

  • Get the right balance of skills
    Every company needs the right mixture of skills, including an entrepreneur to set the direction), a manager to deliver on time and to budget and the technician – in this case, the financial adviser. Make sure your business has employees with each of these skills.
  • Don’t limit your ambitions
    An entrepreneur’s job is to think big. Start with a blank piece of paper and think of your dream financial advice model for clients. Write down what you would offer your clients in an ideal world and don’t let everyday concerns interfere with your dream.


  • Think of your business as separate from your staff
    The people who work for the business are not the business, no matter what they may think. View your business as an entity in its own right. Ask yourself if your staff are truly fulfilling your business’ purpose and what you could change.
  • Get help from outside the business when you need it
    A business truly reaches profitable maturity by getting help from outside at key stages. Think about the areas of weakness in your business and pinpoint where you most need external help.
  • Don’t be afraid of change
    Businesses need to evolve and change at all times of their business cycle or they risk the very real prospect of failure. Don’t risk failure by stubbornly staying put – make time for change and think about what the future may bring.

From ‘the E-Myth Revisited' by Michael E. Gerber, published by Harper Collins. Used by permission of E-Myth Worldwide.

Want to find out more?
Read E-Myth Revisited  by Michael E. Gerber.

Think different, work better

Think differently, work better

The Chimp Paradox

The Chimp Paradox

By Dr Steve Peters

How to identify goals and plan effectively

Having a plan improves your chances of achieving goals. Part of that is about using your rational side and not succumbing to your irrational, emotional side – also known as the chimp.
The Chimp Paradox by consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters teaches you how to train your chimp. The book includes many useful exercises, which look at communication, your success, the world in which you live, your inner mind, understanding and relating to others your health and your happiness.

Seven steps to plan for success and achieve your dream

  • The dream
    Dreams and goals are different. Define your dream then set realistic, achievable goals to increase the chances of your dreams happening.
  • Foundation stones
    A dream is based on two foundation stones: maintenance goals and target goals. Set one or two target goals for your business to over a period of time, with maintenance goals along the way. The fewer tasks you focus on, the more likely you are to succeed with them.


  • Commitment screen
    Make sure you’re aware of what’s needed to make the dream happen. Motivation is chimp led – it’s a helpful driver, but isn’t essential to success. Commitment means following a plan, no matter what.
  • The plan
    The more you prepare for a plan, the more likely you are to succeed. Create measurable goals, set timescales for each and work towards two at a time.
  • Oil the wheels
    Keep the process of success going by doing things that keep you happy, encouraged and committed. Celebrate when you reach a goal and monitor success with a visual record, so you can see your progress.
  • Audit
    Look at the progress towards your business dream and see whether it’s on track. Continue with what’s working and change what isn’t by finding out why it isn’t working.
  • Outcomes
    Have plans to deal with different kinds of outcomes. Try to see failure or setbacks as a challenge and an opportunity to develop yourself and your problem-solving skill. Failure is a learning curve – accept the outcome and work with it.

From ‘The Chimp Paradox' by Dr Steve Peters, published by Random House. Used by permission of Random House Group Limited.

Want to find out more?
Read The Chimp Paradox  by Dr Steve Peters.

ReWork: Change the way you work forever


By Jason Fried and Dave Heinemeier Hansson

How to run a successful business without working all hours and spending all your money

In the highly successful business book ReWork: Change the way you work forever, authors and trailblazing software company founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson look at how the conventional way of doing things isn’t necessarily the best. Just as advisers are looking at online models to attract lower value annuities, we all need to evolve to prosper.

Seven tips to help you build and develop a business your clients to work with

  • Learning from mistakes is over-rated
    Failure isn’t proof that you’ve learnt anything. Building a successful business needs tenacity and commitment. Look at what your business has achieved and build upon what has worked to make it even better in the future.
  • Planning is guessing
    Plans are inconsistent with improvisation, and you have to be able to improvise. Look out for opportunities as they come along and don’t waste too much time trying to plan for the unknown.


  • Saying there’s not enough of something is a cop-out
    Don’t make excuses – make things happen. Review your long-term goals and remember that it’s your responsibility to make your ambitions come true.
  • Good enough is fine
    Don’t over-engineer. Just adding an extra bell or whistle doesn’t make things more attractive, but it can detract. So, when making recommendations to your clients, think about keeping it simple.
  • Welcome obscurity
    Not being in the spotlight allows you to test and try different things without the scrutiny of others. So, don’t be too keen to promote or market services and ideas that you haven’t tested below the radar first.
  • Be a curator, not a custodian
    Don’t give your clients too many choices. Help them to decide by editing your suggestions.
  • Reasons to quit
    By recognising when something is a lost cause, you can move on quickly. This could mean not focusing on client relationships which are not mutually rewarding.

From ‘ReWork’ by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, published by Ebury Publishing. Used by permission of the Random House Group Limited.

Want to find out more?
Read ReWork: Change the way you work forever  by Jason Fried and Dave Heinemeier Hansson.

To Sell Is Human

To Sell Is Human

By Daniel H Pink

Learn to sell your service to clients in a compelling and effective way

Key to most businesses is the process of selling. While a hard sell is not what your adviser business is about, finding new clients – and developing existing ones – is core to profitability.

In his bestseller To Sell Is Human, Daniel H Pink looks at ways you can make your interaction with clients and advice process more efficient, effective and more profitable.

Six insights to help you build your business

  • Become more attuned with your customers.

Practise mimicry. Watch what the other person does, then wait for a few seconds before mimicking a few of their actions. For example, if your client leans back in their chair, you should too. Practise this over time and eventually will become instinctive. You will naturally find yourself on the same wavelength as your clients, who will also become more relaxed and comfortable.

  • Be more buoyant and avoid a negative mind-set

Change how you explain things to yourself and others, minimising problems. Rather than saying, “everyone in this industry is impossible to deal with”, say, “this particular person was having a bad day”. Clients will respond well to your cheerfulness and positive attitude.


  • Get some clarity in your mind
    Give yourself a mini creative jolt by doing something different. Try sitting on a different chair in a meeting, taking a different way home, having a different lunch. This is particularly useful when trying to solve a problem.
  • Pitch more effectively
    Try writing a 50 word pitch for your business. Then cut it down to 25 words, then to six and then, if you can, to one word.
  • Improvise better
    Take more time to think things over before responding. The book recommends five seconds, which seems odd a first, but actually yields some great results.
  • Move from upselling to upserving
    Don’t try selling more, rather do more for your client than they expect. Go the extra mile to transform a mundane experience into a memorable interaction. Improve what you can do for your client rather than trying to increase what they can do for you. This will instil loyalty and help you build long-term relationships.

From ‘To Sell is Human’ by Daniel H PInk, published by Cannongate Books. Used by permission of the Cannotgate Books.

Want to find out more?
Read To Sell Is Human  by Daniel H Pink.

New Thinking

New Thinking

By Professor Paul Dolan and Steve Martin

Use behavioural science to help you communicate better with your clients

Adapting to adviser charging and understanding how best to communicate this to clients has been a top concern for many advisers – something which behavioural science could help with.
Written by two of the UK’s leading behavioural scientists – Professor Paul Dolan and Steve Martin – New Thinking introduces innovative techniques you can use across a range of client and business scenarios. It’s not about making fundamental changes to the way you work; it’s about small changes that can get big results.

Six top tips that could help your business thrive

  • The power of the messenger
    Take every opportunity to show your industry knowledge, credentials and experience to your clients. Display these clearly on your business cards, letters of introduction and website.
  • Establish norms with other clients
    Begin to establish a norm by telling your clients how you’ve helped other people like them.


  • Too much choice can be a bad thing
    Offer you clients just three or four choices. Research reveals too many choices frustrate people and can lead to them not making a decision at all.
  • Create some common ground to help forge a long-standing relationship
    People like people similar to them and clients plan greater trust in advisers who are similar to them. For example, do you have children of a similar age? Do you both like to play golf? Do you support the same football team?
  • Because you’re worth it
    Think about marketing yourself as reassuringly expensive. People often think cheaper goods offer poorer quality, so don’t under-sell your services. Clients will be willing to pay for adviser they see as valuable.
  • Living for today
    Consider spreading fees over time instead of taking them as a lump sum. Many people live for today at the expense of tomorrow, so spreading the cost may make your services both more attractive and, more importantly, more affordable.

From ‘New Thinking’ by Professor Paul Dolan and Steve Martin, published by Aviva. Used by permission of Aviva.

Want to find out more?
Read New Thinking  by Professor Paul Dolan and Steve Martin

Change for the future

The future is about change

Switch: How to Changes Things When Change is Hard


By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

How to successfully implement business change

This is an outstanding book for anyone looking to evolve their business. A lot of people struggle with change and this book is an excellent resource for both understanding why we are resistant to change and, more importantly, how to make change easier and its business effects more successful.

In any business, big or small, it’s essential to adapt and manage the process of change successfully. This is because the longer and more arduous any change, the less profitable the initial period can be.

In Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, best selling business authors Chip and Dan Death reveal that what we perceive as resistance or laziness during periods of change can in fact be something else.

Five insights to focus on during any period of change

  • Don’t ignore emotions
    Change is often highly emotional for all involved. It’s important not to ignore that. So, during this era of change in financial advice, be sensitive to the emotional toll that changes could take.
  • Look beyond resistance
    Resistance to change is often a result of organisational exhaustion, not a lack of willingness. So, before getting frustrated with yourself or someone else’s resistance, look at the possible reasons – are they worried the change will affect their role, for example? This resistance to change could also apply to your clients and the new fee structure.


  • Learn from your successes
    Spend more time analysing the bright spots or successes than dwelling on the failures. So, if a part of your new process is working well or you experience success with a certain set of clients, make sure you figure out why and apply these processes further.
  • Focus on what you do best
    Concentrate on doing more of what works, not less of what doesn’t. If a part of your business is going really well, think about specialising and focusing more on that.
  • Small changes make a big difference
    It’s often the small changes that make the biggest difference. And, when it comes to customer service, clients notice little things (for example, making a new pledge to always respond to customer contacts that day). This same theory can work for your organisation however large it becomes. Look at ways in which you can make small changes that will improve a client’s interaction with your business.

From ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard’ by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, published by Random House. Used by permission of Random House Group Limited.

Want to find out more?
Read Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing

Digital Minds


How to use technology to streamline processes and improve appeal to clients

Digital marketing is quicker cheaper and more versatile than traditional methods. Digital Minds is packed with information on all things digital, from social media to email marketing – it’s a must read for any adviser ready to take part in the digital revolution.

Email marketing can have a huge effect on your bottom line. It’s a rich source of lead generation, not to mention an inexpensive tool you can use to nurture existing client relationships. The guidance on email marketing in Digital Minds is second to none.

Six top tips from Digital Minds on how email marketing can help your business thrive

  • Get up close and personal
    Segment your clients to help you personalise the messages you send them. Clients will be more receptive if you appear to really know what they want and need, so work on this.
  • Get relevant or get deleted
    Focus on the quality of your email content rather than frequency. Plan a mixture of updates and promotional messages, but resist the urge to send too many.


  • Keep it short!
    Get to the point quickly and give a clear call to action. Existing clients can be a rich source of referrals, so why not include a ‘refer a friend’ link?
  • Everyone loves a great deal
    Email your clients with special offers, but make sure those offers are relevant and timely or your client will stop paying attention to your emails.
  • Flex your credentials
    Use emails to show your business expertise. Including case studies to show how you’ve helped other clients like them and share success stories.
  • Inject some personality
    Don’t talk business all the time. Show your clients your personality and you’ll start to build a greater rapport with them. You’ll go from being just their adviser to a real person, which will be good news for your conversion rate.

From ‘Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing’ by WSI, self-published by WSI. Used by permission of WSI.

Want to find out more?
Read Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing   by WSI.

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WA01305 03/2016