To some, it might appear odd that none of the four sons of a prosperous farming family – based near Narrogin, in Western Australia’s glorious south-east wheat belt – didn’t continue on the land.
However, on meeting Rob and Michael Pyne of HPH Solutions in West Perth, you quickly appreciate their potential, and admire the attitude they bring to their advice business. I suspect the other two Pyne boys are equally entrepreneurial and, unfortunately for Australian agriculture, are also set upon crafting their own careers in their own way.
The Pynes are their own men. They epitomise what I call “the third factor” crucial to building great advisory firms – attitude and intent.
Have you noticed all the noise surrounding the Cooper Review, the commission debate, the conversion to fee for service, or the scale game between NAB, AXA and AMP? How could you miss it, you say? The Pynes don’t notice it. The noise around the foundational developments in our industry is as foreign to them as are my beloved Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. Who? They just don’t notice it, or let it distract them from their focus – getting the financial lives of their clients in order and keeping it that way forever.
The attitude and intent the Pynes bring to their well-established business on a daily basis is unique. A little over a month ago we worked with them to:
- Co-develop a suitable referral technique. This became the basis of a skills session, following which they committed to a practice regime to assist with gaining the right referrals for their business. Over the last couple of weeks, they’ve gained five ideal referrals from three ideal client meetings.
- Jointly design an internal meeting process for their team to regularly touch base to get a sense of how everyone is travelling in their job, and understand what is holding people up and how the business is tracking (Refer Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: Verne Harnish – SelectBooks Inc, New York, 2002). The process was implemented, team communication improved, and Rob and Mike have delegated the management and running of these meetings to the firm’s newest recruit.
- Discuss how the firm could better track their many and varied client projects. We shared our experiences with excellent tools such as Mindjet (www.mindjet.com) and the Gyronix ResultsManager plug-in (www.gyronix.com). Again within the last month they had implemented a solution based upon their already installed Sharepoint environment – not without teething problems, but they are making progress.
Clients like this make us look good. But, it’s not us, it’s them. More particularly it’s their attitude and intent that underpins their talent and professionalism.
Everything they do is focused on providing the best possible service to get the financial lives of their clients in order and to keep it that way. Their attitude and intent drives their daily priorities.
One of the Pynes’ overriding objectives for this financial year is the simple and effective goal of “no legacy products, no legacy clients, and no legacy systems”. Their daily fight with constant attention distracters is as real for them as it is for all of us. However, their attitude is just that much stronger, just that little bit more ‘fit’ and practiced, so that fewer of those distractions are allowed to slip through.
This third factor - attitude and intent - is missing from most business development and skilling programs that we have observed.
Even our own “Cultivating Advice®” program, which we’ve delivered to 196 Australian advisory firms since 2004, was initially too weighted towards the first two factors underpinning mastery – skilling and practicing. Whilst these factors are crucial, if they’re not mixed with the glue forged by the third factor – attitude and intent – they are short-lived.
Initiatives undertaken without spending sufficient time on development of attitude and intent will have little long term benefit. The comfort you may have today that you may be ready for the future world of advice will quickly desert you as you uncomfortably apply new skills and inevitably encounter significant challenges.
From the sporting arena there are many examples of highly trained, skilled and practiced individuals and teams who ‘lose it’ and play like inexperienced newcomers when tested by good competition or unforeseen circumstances.
Obviously, the greatest players possess more than just a combination of great skills and fitness. These alone don’t win games. The glue that holds the great competitors together is their intent to win, their determination to prevail, their focus in tight situations, their ability to turn things around when against the odds. It’s their mindset, their intent, their attitude.
The Pynes and their team have a clear attitude: they want to do everything possible to get the financial lives of their clients in order and to keep it that way. They don’t make time to read the press; they excuse themselves for internal or external conversations that rob their precious professional time. They don’t attend meetings that don’t better their client’s lives.
Internally they are driving to “no legacy product, no legacy clients, and no legacy processes” simply to allow them to better focus on getting the financial lives of their clients in order and keeping it that way. (I might sound like I’m repeating myself, but you hear that phrase a lot when you’re with them.) The Pynes don’t let themselves get distracted by all the ‘stuff’ that distracts most of us and takes them away from better serving their clients.
In the future world of advice, we are all going to be challenged on our pricing, our proposition, the quality of our ongoing support, our ongoing advice. No amount of skill and practice alone will prepare us if we don’t cultivate an attitude that underpins the reasons for our commitment to our propositions, our pricing, our skilling and practicing. If your motivation is simply industry or dealer group compliance, you’ll spend a lot of time behind the goals as your opposition continues to score against you.
In these times of foundational change, the industry should learn heaps from these country-bred, entrepreneurial advisers Rob and Michael Pyne. They will admit they are far from mastery, but judging by their ‘third factor’ – attitude and intent – they will be playing a much bigger game than most of us in the new world of advice.
These are the best of times to be building great advisory firms.