Mastering Mastermind Groups

8 min read
January 23, 2020

Two of the most common concerns I hear from members post-registration stem from the lack of accountability and community they feel following the rush to register. You’ve hustled so hard up to this point, spending hours drafting compliance documents and playing telephone with state regulators to finally launch your RIA.

Now what? How do you keep the momentum created by the initial registration and pre-launch processes going?

The answer is simple: Engage with a mastermind group of other financial planning professionals.

What Exactly is a Mastermind Group?

While the words ‘study group’ may conjure images of over-caffeinated college students studying furiously for impending final exams into the wee morning hours, mastermind groups are designed for professionals looking for the benefits of a micro-community created specifically to support them.

Rather than cramming when the clock is ticking down, they meet regularly to hold each other accountable, check in on goals, and collaborate on business management. The members of your mastermind group help you achieve your goals by offering support and holding you accountable; often, mastermind groups play a key role in the success of independent financial advisors.

Why Should I Engage With a Mastermind Group?

Launching your own RIA is undoubtedly a thrill; the sheer vastness of the undertaking can strike fear in the hearts of even the most energetic enterprisers. Alan Moore, CEO and co-founder of XY Planning Network, has often been quoted as saying, “Loneliness can kill an entrepreneur,” citing the all too common scourge of the “solopreneur slump.”

While sitting in the extra bedroom-turned-office of your home or downing the second (or third…or fourth) cortado at your favored local coffee house, you may be hit with a feeling of isolation. Fear not my friend! You are far from alone.

Never have I seen a more incredible paradigm shift than when a member finds their own micro-community within their mastermind group. The search for water cooler companionship is over; in its place is a tribe ready to celebrate your success and help you weather your hardships.

Advisors in all stages of the life of their business find their mastermind groups to be sources of comradery for both the positive and tough aspects of managing their firms. Participants have the chance to learn from their mistakes, and from the mistakes of others, in a respectful environment while cheering on the accomplishments of their peers and receiving recognition for their own. Goals are established together and each member of the group holds the other accountable, providing a solid foundation for continued growth.

Mastermind Groups provide advisors with:

Peer-to-peer collaboration

Are you dealing with a tricky client relationship that could use some outside perspective? Or have you ever wanted one more set of eyes on a new financial plan or investment model but don’t know where to turn? Ask your mastermind group! Composed of your financial planning fellows, it will be an endless source of industry knowledge and unique viewpoints.


We’ve all created to-do lists and self-imposed deadlines in an effort to get things done and then watched the list grow as the due dates slip by. What if the answer was some healthy, positive peer pressure? I’m not talking about the kind of reckless encouragement that school counselors and parents warn kids about but rather the goal-oriented answerability that comes with promises made to peers. Your mastermind group will help hold you accountable for the goals and metrics you’ve set while also approaching any shortcomings with creative solutions.

Referrals and Leads

Beyond just being a source for potential client referrals, mastermind groups are often sources of business references including, but not limited to, potential matches for partnerships, support when merging existing firms, and a trusted advisory council when growing your team. Group members also seek referrals for a variety of other professionals including attorneys, website/content designers, and other financial service providers.

Continuity Plans

Have you ever considered what might happen to your business (and clients) in the event that you’re unable to run it? It’s not something anyone enjoys thinking about, but it warrants your attention. Mastermind groups can function as continuity plans for many advisors, serving both the advisor’s clients and other invested parties such as immediate family in a time of crisis. Both the advisor and their clients can rest easy knowing the former has an understanding with a trusted group to keep things moving forward.

What Does a Mastermind Group Look Like?

Mastermind groups function best when there is a similar orientation in one (if not all) of the following:

  • Niche or ideal clients
  • Service model and offerings
  • The business phase of the firm

By orienting the group around at least one of the above, you can ensure all members are moving forward with a collaborative spirit. Within XYPN membership, there are mastermind groups founded on combinations of the above, resulting in a variety of ways that a member might engage.

However, just like most groups in our everyday lives, your mastermind group does not need to be made of clones to be successful. Remember that concept of unique perspectives I mentioned? As long as you’re relatively close in terms of the phase of your firm and its goals, diversity in members can actually make the group more productive and valuable.

I’d also challenge you to set aside any concerns you have about worthiness. All too often I hear members dismiss themselves as “not good enough” for a mastermind group, expressing concern that they’ll inhibit the group with their current woes.

That is precisely what the group is there to help with!

You might just find that someone who appears to have it all together is simply good at presenting themselves as such and would jump at the chance to engage with you about (insert your amazing talent/area of expertise here). Every advisor brings something wholly unique to the table, offering a diverse set of skills and experiences that have ultimately shaped them and will provide a vibrant palette of perspectives to the entire group.

What Does a Good Mastermind Group Have?

While there is no perfect recipe, there are a few quintessential elements to successful and productive mastermind groups:

Ownership and Agency

For a mastermind group to accomplish its aim of moving advisors forward in their businesses, there must be a true sense of ownership of the group amongst all members. This means that all participating must put forth the effort necessary to facilitate the meetings, keep the notes, and generally maintain the structure that I’ll detail in a moment. It also entails taking agency as it relates to the group, seeking out new resources and tools to maintain productivity and efficacy. This can be anything from identifying and inviting relevant guest speakers to implementing other meeting formats that better suit you. It’s no easy task and requires more than a passing commitment, but I can guarantee you that it comes with a sense of pride that will carry over into all other aspects of your firm.

Mutual Respect

This one always feels like an expectation that doesn’t truly need to be voiced when I launch internal mastermind groups for XYPN members, but you’d be surprised to learn that many of us need a gentle reminder every now and again.

Taught in most schools as a pillar of character, respect for your peers is an integral key to unlocking the full value of your mastermind group; without it, there is no foundation of trust. Consider “The Mom Test”, a concept coined by author Rob Fitzpatrick. He states that because we are conditioned to be superficially nice to one another, we often fail our peers by sugarcoating our feedback and essentially lying. Participants need to be as objective as possible, constructive in their criticism, and unbiased in their feedback to guarantee it will be constructive to others.

It should also go without saying that regular attendance is a foundational piece for an effective mastermind group. Your group must be willing to establish, manage, and enforce attendance expectations for all participants, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. Being able to rely on other group members’ commitment to the meetings will grow an even stronger sense of trust and reliability.


We’ve all been there. You’ve taken time out of your incredibly full schedule to attend a program, you’re ready to absorb like a sponge, and someone’s phone goes off. Ba-ping! Ba-ping! They’ve checked it, responded, and received a response. Ba-ping! Ba-ping!

Don’t be that person.

Mastermind group participants need to be fully present and engaged in the meetings. Notice the word engage. It’s a give and take, actively inputting with dialogue and suggestions while devoting your attention to the task at hand. I challenge you to make a commitment to your group and, most importantly, yourself during the time you’ve dedicated. I can promise you’ll see the rewards right away.

Communication Expectations

We all have unique preferences when it comes to how we give and take in information to and from others and members of a mastermind group are no different. Because you’ll often be discussing struggles and other topics that may elicit less than stellar feelings, it’s important to lay a framework for communication that all participants are comfortable with. Tone and word choice are to always be considered, along with how your group might approach controversial or sensitive subjects.

Additionally, you need to know how will you communicate as a group outside of your recurring meetings, if you should choose to do so at all. XYPN members are given access to a private forum wherein they can  hold a conversation but you may also consider other platforms like Slack or instant messaging apps like WhatsApp. It’s important to consider any accessibility needs of group members and choose the medium accordingly.

Remember that, like any other day of the week, meetings with your mastermind group may not always turn out to be resourceful roses and supportive sunshine. Life happens and sometimes bleeds over into your meetings, putting a damper on what otherwise might be a perfectly constructive session. No engagement is ever going to be a silver bullet for all your problem, but working with a group of committed industry peers is a great place to start.

How to Engage in a Mastermind Group

You’ve decided engaging in a mastermind group is just the thing you need to continue your firm’s forward momentum. You understand the commitment it will require and look forward to the community you’ll call yours. Now how do you get involved? 

XYPN Members

The incredible and extensive list of other XYPN member benefits aside, the XYPN community continues to be cited as one of the most valuable aspects of the Network by over 40% of members. A cornerstone of XYPN’s member community, mastermind groups serve as invaluable resources to those in any stage of business. We often use the phrase “Come for the technology, stay for the community” when welcoming new members and, with over 300 members currently engaged in a mastermind group, it remains true.

Outside Organizations

It’s becoming more widely accepted that a reliable group of peers can be a boon to launching firm owners and experienced advisors alike. NAPFA and FPA, along with several other industry leaders, offer a variety of options when choosing to engage in a mastermind group. Contact your local chapter to get started.

No matter how you decide to jump into mastermind groups, it’s imperative that you do. This unique micro-community will support you through both the highs and lows of firm ownership, celebrating wins and tackling roadblocks together. The comradery of others who just get it and who understand what drives you to offer fiduciary, fee-based financial planning cannot be quantified. You may even find these talented, intelligent individuals become some of your closest friends. And who couldn’t use a few more friends?

XYPN Kassy Betterley Headshot

About the Author

As part of XYPN’s Member Services team, Kassy helps to personalize advisors’ relationships with XYPN membership and helps to ensure a high quality experience in her role as a Member Experience Specialist (MES). She is passionate about thoughtfully constructed processes and thrives when helping others problem-solve. Connecting people to each other is a great source of joy for her and she does so whenever the opportunity arises.

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