I was with a great group of financial advisers yesterday who reminded me the importance of getting the basics right.

They are so engulfed by so much ‘noise’ in their professional worlds.

Markets are up, markets are down.

Personal wages (these advisers were primarily employees undergoing yet another remuneration review exercise) are uncertain and linked to the roller-coaster economic conditions.

Clients are on the back foot, some looking for miracles, some looking for retribution, most with rock-bottom expectations from their financial (read investment) advisers.

To lift revenue, they are being pushed to lift their fees, which to some appeared like throwing fire onto a fire that’s already too hot.

Amidst this, they knew the path to their growth.

Stick to the basics.  

(I’m a recent fan of Jim Collins latest book – Great by Choice – and in particular his concept of the 20 Mile Walk – something you do consistently in your business ALL the time no matter what. Collins neatly – yet again – captures from his research, what great firms consistently do all the time).

The basics identified yesterday are:

1. Reset the CONTEXT with every client, every time.

Start every meeting with every client, new or old, with a similar CONTEXT. Such as “Before we start, I’d like to go back to the foundations that support our advice relationship – the first principles about WHY you are engaging our firm

2. Remove the assumptions

Immediately after setting your context, remove the client assumptions (and yours). Such as “Even though we have been working together for years, it’s important that we don’t make any assumptions about the role we have to perform of you in the coming 12 months. We also ask that you too don’t make assumptions about our role as being narrowly focussed on only one aspect of your financial life”

3. State your role

Then immediately state your role, what you do, clearly and rehearsed. Such as “Our job is to maximise the probability of you achieving your financial objectives”

4. Seek out and quickly identify their burning issues

If something is ‘burning’ identify it, promise to address it, but for 80% of the time, park it for later in your meeting. Don’t let it distract you, unless it truly is burning a hole in their balance sheet or cashflow and needs stemming like a bleeding financial artery. This might seem rude, but give it a go.

5. Understand the outcomes (not the financial ones, the personal ones) that all your financial advice is working towards

6 Continue with your meeting as you used to conduct…

The steps 1-4 should only take you 5-7 minutes – any longer and you’re in danger of losing control. Step 5 should take no more than 15 minutes.

Get the basics back into your client conversations about WHY you are doing WHAT you do, before handling all the financial ‘noise’ in your clients lives.

What do you think?

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