In this column from Insurance Journal’s archives, Jim Ruta explains how to build a reputation that attracts and keeps business.  

Question: How do I build my brand reputation in my marketplace?  

Your brand is just what people think about you. When they are impressed and have high praise, you are in for more referrals, more introductions, more business, and more loyalty.

“You are a class act” is the greatest compliment any advisor can receive. When you are known as a class act, you are in a class by yourself. You are your own competition.

I love this definition of “class” - “showing stylish excellence”. Stylish excellence is the key to a winning reputation in business and in life. Class makes people want to work with you and be one of your clients. When you have class, you are easier to refer and introduce because if you have it, the reference does too. Class separates average from awesome and mediocre from magnificent. It’s takes you to the next level of performance.

 Fortunately, “stylish excellence” is a learned skill. Here are 19 ways you can demonstrate it and build your brand:

  1. Class always does the right thing whatever the personal cost in time, effort, or money. There is no right way to do a wrong thing.
  2.  Humility is class. And the more you might have to brag about, the more important this is. Stay classy my friends.
  3. Class advisors take responsibility for the quality of their relationships. As the person who instigates a relationship, they realize they are responsible for its success.
  4. Make other people look good. Classy advisors share the spotlight or give it up altogether. They don’t hog it. The goal of all members of a team should be to make the other members look good.
  5. Classy advisors take the blame when something goes wrong; they don’t deflect it. They are situational leaders and absorb the heat so others feel better.
  6. Classy advisors don’t try to impress people with their credentials and tell people how smart they are; they help them.
  7. Overstatement and exaggeration are low class. It is much better to understate benefits and overstate pricing and then be proven to be conservative rather than the other way around.
  8. Working from an agenda shows them that you value their time and that’s class.
  9. Having an organized business system and a process shows class.
  10. First class advisors use good manners in all their dealings. They are respectful and thoughtful. Politeness is classy.
  11.  Be magnanimous. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Help others before you expect to be helped. Give without expectation of getting back in return.
  12.  Classy advisors stay in touch with their clients. They follow up and follow through. They check in regularly, even if just to say hello. Annual reviews are classy.
  13.  Showing gratitude demonstrates class. Be like the turtle on the top of a fencepost – know you didn’t get there by yourself. Show your appreciation to clients with holiday and milestone cards, business related gifts, handwritten thank you letters, and even making charitable gifts to your clients’ favourite charities and giving them the receipt. Real class.
  14.  Be helpful, supportive, and inspiring and you will get your share of business from social media without being garish and selling on social media. That’s class.
  15. Classy advisors are on time. The only way to be on time is to plan to be early, that way, when you are late, you can still be on time.
  16. Consistency is class. When you are dependable, you will not only impress your marketplace you will also multiply your business.
  17. Don’t delegate initial client contact. I am struck by how many top advisors are not “too big” or “too busy” to talk directly to their clients and prospects to start a sale. That’s classy, not arrogant.
  18. Worry more about how much you help your prospects than you worry about what they buy. Sell what they want first and what they might need later.
  19. Polite language is classy and separates you from the competition. You are always being watched. Remember that what you write in social media stays in social media. Forever.

Follow these stylish excellence guidelines and you will enhance your level of class. These are simple changes to how we behave but they will have you known as a “class act” with all the benefits and advantages that come with it.

If you take the time and make the effort, you will earn this highest of business honours. You will have prestige. You will build your brand in your marketplace and take your business to a much higher level. Class is the key to a winning reputation in business and in life.

This column by renowned advisor coach Jim Ruta was first published in the June 2021 edition of Insurance Journal magazine.

For more information on the tools to use to build your brand, check out

Jim Ruta’s mission is simple – to preserve, promote and propel the financial advisor business. A former insurance advisor and executive manager of a 250-advisor agency, Jim is a highly regarded coach, author, podcaster and keynote speaker. He has spoken 4 times at the MDRT Annual Meeting including the Main Platform. Jim Ruta is an Executive Coach and Keynote speaker specializing in life insurance advisors and leaders. He works with top advisors around the world and re-energizes audiences with his deep insight and passion. 

If you have a question for Jim, you may send an email to [email protected]