Is Financial Services focusing on the right issues?

What are we meant to do?

I mean in our role as financial services professionals, what is our immediate focus when in front of our clients?

Help the ambitious business owner get another extension to their overdraft , or help them restrain their financial ambitions and spending habits until they can better afford it?

Help the retiree transfer their retirement savings into cash, or help them see our reasoning as to why we’ve allocated their monies and why, in our opinion, it is still the best means to achieve the lifestyles they hope for?

Help the double-income earning working couple with small kids and whooping mortgage spend an small windfall as deposit on an investment property or help them reduce the mortgage?

I’ve just finished Dan Pink’s latest book – To Sell Is Human – over the weekend and he reminded me (on page 128) about the importance of focus. (He reminded and challenged me about lots more too).  

What’s your focus?

Are financial professionals today focusing on solving problems or are we focusing on finding problems?

Sitting through an Industry Fund Conference recently, I heard lots about the problems the industry is facing regarding forthcoming legislation, how to make their financial advice scalable, even the virtues of being an FPA member. But little about how best to find the problems in the financial lives of their members/clients, and then to best solve them.

I see more and more full-page advertisements in the financial press (who exactly is paying for those? really?) extolling the virtues of establishing your own self-managed superannuation fund, but little about ensuring that a SMSF is in fact a good solution to the client’s problem.

I facilitated a “where to from here” type workshop session for a large financial services group recently where the teams work in pods (i.e. finance, investments, insurance, tax). The session was designed to focus on improving the performance of their investment team whereas the resulting commitments were designed to potentially ‘work across’ the existing pod segments to potentially find and solve broader issues for their clients.

To paraphrase Pink, shouldn’t we all be trying our hardest to find the right financial problems to solve in the lives of our clients?

What do you reckon?

PS. I’ve been a fan of Dan Pink ever since I picked up my first Fast Company Magazine (Edition 77 back in 1997). He’s got some great insights, particularly re the tsunami effect of the net on our lives and businesses. He’s a bit like Jim Collins, without the research department behind him.


About Jim Stackpool

For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.

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