Practice Management

Building Causative Teams

A strategic approach to fostering embedded success

by Brooke Kelley

Ms. Kelley is the co-founder and president of The Kelley Group. As a world-renowned financial services leader, she’s coached executives listed to Forbes’ and Barron’s Top 50. She’s pursuing her master’s at USC, was featured on PBS, MSN, CNN, and FOX, rang the NYSE bell, and co-authored two best-selling books.

Business development is the lifeblood of your organization, and yet, most financial advisory teams struggle the most when it comes to executing on this key element of their success.

But, there is one thing you can do to totally change the game for your business’s growth and start generating unparalleled revenue. That’s looking within – instead of relying on traditional marketing channels – and learning how to transform each and every one of your team members into a business development powerhouse.

For over two decades, I’ve been coaching financial advisory teams on exactly this – the ability to build causative teams. The results are nothing short of extraordinary. In fact, in just three months of implementing this methodology, I’ve seen causative teams triple their referral rates and double their assets.

Clearly, fostering a causative team sets you up for unmatched success. But the benefits go beyond just revenue growth – a causative team can engage in easy and effective promotion, leverage its introverted team members for effective relationship building, and help foster emotional intelligence across the organization.

The Top 3 Benefits Of Causative Teams

Causative teams make promotion effortless

Causative teams understand that relying on external resources like marketing firms, networking events, and digital ads isn’t enough to move the needle. The truth is your best marketers are your team members. On a causative team, advisors can easily articulate what they do – usually in about two sentences – and can effectively and excitedly communicate the firm’s core mission. As a result, when ideal clients hear the pitch, they’re inspired to act; they’re immediately compelled to think, I need some of that.

A critical component of successful causative teams is systems. These teams have regular processes in place when asking for referrals, which usually includes a follow-up email with talking points and helpful data that can easily be forwarded to the prospective client’s family and friends. On top of that, every member of a causative team has their social presence and brand materials ready to go. That means multiple outlets – including every team member’s LinkedIn and the company website and newsletter – are set up to reflect the firm’s core messaging that appeals to ideal clients and consistently adds value.

Causative teams understand how to leverage their more introverted team members

Traditionally, business development has been left to a select few team members – those who embody the extrovert archetype. However, following this model means that your business is immediately cut off from some of the most valuable business development channels you have at your disposal: your more introverted team members.

Sometimes, even the best financial advisory leaders don’t realize that introverts are effective social scientists: Harvard Business Review points out that the depth at which introverts listen to clients and prospects makes them an invaluable asset. These individuals tend to be more effective at reading verbal and non-verbal cues because they’re not just focusing on what they’re going to say next. Introverted team members tend to have an aversion to shallow conversations and instead develop meaningful relationships. Many of your clients likely feel closer to them and would do more for them than they might do for your more outgoing team members.

A causative team can engage in easy and effective promotion, leverage its introverted team members for effective relationship building, and help foster emotional intelligence across the organization...

Causative teams know that both introverts and extroverts are crucial when it comes to asking existing clients for introductions. Plus, introverted team members tend to be more self-sufficient. They seek solutions internally before placing demands on others. As a result, they are key drivers in helping causative teams scale more effectively because they economize the time of other team members and solve their own problems rather than creating superfluous tasks for others.

Causative teams regularly use their emotional intelligence (EQ) and value developing the EQ of their team members

The ability to create a true, human-to-human connection is critical to business development. In fact, according to a study by Gallup, companies that foster emotional bonds with customers outperform their competitors by 85 percent when it comes to sales growth.

Causative teams know this. When it comes to events and virtual gatherings, top-performing teams not only make it easy for their advocates to introduce them to new prospects – they also prioritize adding as much value and insight as possible to these interactions. Causative teams don’t just focus on selling; they focus on building lasting relationships that come into play months (or even years) down the road. They replace quantity with quality and build connections with individuals who end up becoming life-long advocates for you and your business – especially when they engage with your most critical centers of influence (COIs).

Maya Angelou is known for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” These wise words are true across the board for any business-related interaction, and it’s something your team members need to understand at their core in order to incite transformative growth for your firm.

Remember, causative teams are impact-oriented: they’re always striving to create the kind of relationships that are built to last.

Ready to take your team to the next level? Here are the questions to ask yourself to see if your team is causative or antiquated:

1.) Are you still relying primarily on old and outdated approaches to business development?

2.) Is your entire team – along with clients, key stakeholders, and COIs – helping to get your message out to the people you most want to work with?

3.) Does everyone on your team know how to communicate your singular, unforgettable value proposition that speaks volumes to your prospective clients?

4.) Is your brand and team easy to promote?

5.) Does your team believe business development is a responsibility that only belongs to a select few?

6.) Does your team celebrate the small, nuanced ways that different members cause the team to win, or do they tend to only think of your most extroverted team members as the ones who are driving growth?

Building a causative team will undoubtedly drive major growth for your business. Plus, you’ll create lasting bonds with your team members as you work together to achieve your most meaningful goals.




Works Cited
Li, Willing, and Karl Moore. “Can Introverts Thrive in ‘Extroverted’ Careers?”, Harvard
Business Review, 28 Jan. 2021,
Kelley, Brooke, and Sarano Kelley. “Coaching and Training Impact Study on Advisor’s Client
Acquisitions.”, The Kelley Group, Aug. 2021, https://
“Maya Angelou: How You Made Them Feel.” Noteworthy Nonsense,
31 Mar.,
O’Boyle, Ed, et al. “Retail and the ‘New Normal.’”, Gallup, 27 Apr. 2010, http://