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Spaghetti Sauce, Content Marketing and the Future of Financial Advice

Since the dawn of the financial advice industry, financial professionals have created value propositions centered on the intangible qualities they provide investors. The focus on these qualities—including face-to-face interactions, the promise of a genuine personal relationship and emotional support—has only grown stronger as the robo-advisor revolution has gathered steam.

The industry has pegged these qualities as key differentiators between human financial professionals from machines. Data from Charles Schwab, however, offers a potential challenge to this line of thinking.

The study found that investors in the Millennial and Gen X generations were not only less willing to pay for professional service from advisors (only 44 and 47 percent respectively), but they were also less likely to want to discuss investing strategies with a professional (49 and 48 percent) than their Baby Boomer counterparts (55%). Although it’s not necessarily a surprise that Millennial and Gen X investors are more likely to prefer to automate investing decisions (51 and 52 percent), it is interesting that 39 percent of Baby Boomers and 33 percent of Matures listed automation as their preference.

Regardless of how you choose to read the results, it would be difficult to disagree that the advent of powerful technology in the advisory space has introduced at least a question in investors’ minds as to how they should be managing their money. The solution is certainly far more complicated than a simple “man vs. machine” scenario, but may require a few steps outside the box. I believe the “why” behind these results has less to do with the actual value of a financial professional’s services and everything to do with spaghetti sauce.

Human Financial Professionals and the “Extra Chunky” Phenomenon

I love a good TED Talk. One of my favorites comes from Malcom Gladwell—“Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.” In this talk Gladwell tells the story of Howard Moskowitz, whose revolutionary approach to buyer behavior and happiness brought the world “extra chunky” spaghetti sauce.

Moskowitz was a consultant in the 1970s when the prevailing marketing mantra was to “give your customers whatever they say they want.” In working with a wide range of companies, Moskowitz found that, while human beings will certainly tell someone what they like, their “wants” can only exist in the frame of reference of products already available. In other words, we may want or need something that doesn’t yet exist.

Moskowitz was eventually hired by Campbell’s Soup, makers of Prego spaghetti sauce. Prego, and its primary product, a “traditional” tomato sauce, was struggling mightily against competitor Ragu. Using his theory, instead of trying to perfect the original recipe by asking what people did and didn’t like about Prego, Moskowitz created 77 completely different kinds of spaghetti sauce and asked people to test each one.

While the diversity of the responses was incredible, Moskowitz found that people could be filtered into three categories: plain, spicy and extra chunky. The biggest shocker in the results was the number of people who chose the types of sauce that could be placed in the “extra chunky” category. This finding was shocking because, at the time of the study, there was no such thing as “extra chunky” spaghetti sauce, lending credence to Moskowitz’s hypothesis.

I think there are similarities between the original approach to spaghetti sauce and the way today’s investors view the value of human financial professionals. Just over half of the respondents to the Jackson study had ever met in person with a human financial professional. The value of these intangibles relies completely on a personal relationship, yet respondents hadn’t ever had the opportunity to interact with a human financial planner.

From this perspective, the reason many investors view these services as an unnecessary expenditure is likely because they’ve either been successful without the support in the past or they are simply afraid of paying a substantial amount of money for an unknown. In other words, they’re just fine with the traditional spaghetti sauce because they haven’t been exposed to the “extra chunky.”

You’ll recall that at one time we didn’t see a need for the telephone, the Internet, personal desktop computers, or smartphones—until we saw what the products could do. Moskowitz showed us that human beings don’t know what we really want or like until the product or service becomes available.

Consumers’ lack of understanding is often coupled with a fear of the unknown, which is generally bolstered by sensationalistic media content. Thus, human financial professionals are at a disadvantage in proving their value before they ever get a prospective client in the door. So what do we do?

Proactive Education Through Targeted Content Marketing

A successful relationship between a human financial professional and an investor is founded on implicit trust. To prove their value to investors, financial planners must first work to build a solid level of trust with prospective investors—which is easier said than done.

Although trust in financial services has increased in the last few years, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that the industry still held the lowest level of trust of all sectors. To make matters worse, coverage of the Department of Labor fiduciary conversation from both sides of the aisle has further muddied the waters for consumers.

However, there’s opportunity here. Trust is something we can work together to rebuild and content can be an important part of the solution. To use banks as an example, a study from NewsCred revealed that, while one-third of those surveyed don’t trust their own bank, half of those respondents said they trust the bank more when they offer helpful content. Another 50 percent of respondents say that offering helpful, useful content delays their desire to switch banks. Thus, it’s clear that a certain type of investor looks at content as a factor in decision-making and trust when it comes to their financial services relationships.

But what about the other side of the coin? A survey from marketing agency Kapost showed 76 percent of financial services professionals also believe content marketing is the best way to regain trust. In my opinion, there are three main reasons why content may be able to assist financial planners in both building trust with prospective clients and representing their value propositions in a difficult climate.

  • The Importance of Common Ground. When attempting to address a discrepancy, it helps to find common ground. In the financial services industry, it can be difficult to find consensus, regardless of which group is being surveyed. Financial services providers, planners and investors are categorized quite broadly, but the individuals within these groups are extremely diverse. In the case of content, based on the above statistics, investors and financial services professionals mercifully agree. Usually, when you find this type of consensus, it can pay to act on it
  • The Correlation Between Trust and Relevant, Useful Content. Educational, product-agnostic content inherently allows marketers to build trust. Unlike advertising, where too much volume or overly aggressive messaging can hurt a brand or business, content allows us to demonstrate our intent, expertise and value one piece at a time, constructing a consistent, case for trust over the long term. If your content is truly engaging and relevant to prospective investors, you’ll be doing more than just building trust; you may be delivering that “extra chunky” recipe investors have been waiting for.
  • The Value of Targeting Different Groups With Specific Messages. Content allows planners to target very specific messages to different types of clients. As Gladwell mentions in his TED Talk, Moskowitz’s novel approach to spaghetti sauce, and behavior in general, wasn’t an attempt to find the perfect spaghetti sauce, but to find the perfect spaghetti sauces. In other words, he showed that brands should embrace the variability of their target client groups, as striving for universality casts far too wide a net.

Moskowitz chose to place the spaghetti sauce tasters into distinct groups (plain, spicy and extra chunky). This is a valuable point for planners in terms of segmenting content for prospective clients. While a financial professional can’t be everything to everyone, it’s important to attempt to place prospective investors into a few select categories and to tailor content for each specific audience. One way to do this is to review your existing client base and choose your top 10 clients based on the attributes you look for in an ideal client. From there, choose the attributes that you find most important in the planner-client relationship and use them to separate clients into different categories. If you end up with too many similar clients, try starting over with a larger sample size.

In Summary

If a financial planner can just get investors in the door for a meeting, then they’ll see the light and the problem will be solved, right? Of course not. I’m certainly not saying that content is the magic bullet to eliminate the mistrust and fear of the unknown that make today’s investors hesitate before considering a relationship with a human financial professional. But do I think that providing relevant, valuable and free content to prospective clients can help planners begin to chip away at these issues? Absolutely.

The data surrounding the unwillingness to pay for intangibles such as emotional support, face-to-face interaction and an authentic relationship should serve as a catalyst for planners to learn how to articulate their value to existing and prospective clients. And I firmly believe that content marketing can be a highly effective tool to help planners do that.

This is a piece of a whole effort—including asking for referrals from current clients, getting yourself out there in the local community by attending events and sponsoring charity work—to help investors get to know “the real you.” Because it really comes down to authenticity. If prospective clients can sense your sincerity, you’ve already overcome the most important hurdle. Expertise, knowledge and skill are all implied, but trust must be earned.

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Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin

 


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Get Your Target Audience to Develop Your Marketing Ideas for You

Have you ever worked really hard on a marketing campaign?

Be it a blog post, social media ad, landing page and lead magnet, in-person event or anything else you tried to use as a way to grow your firm, you poured a lot of hours and energy into the effort. You were proud of what you created.

And yet when you hit publish or sent out invitations or pushed send on that email…well, cue the crickets.

Nothing. No response, not even a nibble from a curious prospective client.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time to financial advisers looking for new, innovative ways to market and grow their firms.

What’s happening here? Why do your best efforts and intentions go nowhere and fail to resonate with the audience you want to connect with or reach the prospects you want to convert into clients?

Why Your Marketing Efforts Fall Flat

What’s happening here? Why do your best efforts and intentions go nowhere and fail to resonate with the audience you want to connect with or reach the prospects you want to convert into clients?The best way to waste a lot of time with your marketing efforts is to generate ideas on what to do next on your own, in a vacuum, without getting feedback.

This is the mistake most advisers make: they think they find a great marketing idea and want to try it. They do an excellent job executing, except for one fatal flaw: they try to guess what their target market wants. They spend a lot of time brainstorming and wondering what to write in a blog, or record for a video or podcast, or how to host an event.

Doing all this hard work of pinpointing exactly what to create or do takes a lot of effort. It’s also completely unnecessary because there’s a better way. Instead of guessing what kind of content your ideal client wants and would find relevant, just ask them.

Your Target Market Can Generate Ideas for You

The best way to create a marketing campaign that resonates with the right people is to understand the following about your audience:

  • Demographics. Data like age, gender, ethnicity and location.
  • Psychographics. Information about their beliefs, philosophies, biases, fears, aspirations and more that gives insight to their perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Pain points and challenges. What do they struggle with? What do they see as a problem in their life? What causes pain or prevents them from living the way they want?
  • Needs, desires and goals. What do they desperately want to achieve more than anything else? What do they need in their lives?
  • Preferences and habits. What magazines do they read? What websites do they browse? How do they interact with media? How do they prefer to learn new information?
  • Objections. What stops them from taking action? What causes resistance or friction when they make purchasing decisions?

If you know this information, you can craft messages that directly hit on pain points and offer appealing solutions that get around sales objections. You’ll also know where to go to deliver your message and how to share information about what your firm can do for clients.

The easiest way to get that information? Try one of these strategies to understand what your target market wants from you before you start your next marketing campaign.

Comb Through Message Boards and Listen on Social Media

People are already talking about the topics you’re an expert in. And because they’re not the experts, they likely have questions they want answers to.

If you can find the questions your audience is already asking, you can design marketing content that answers those and positions you as the ultimate solution to the problems they face.

So how do you do it? Two ways:

  • Use search functions on social media to find and monitor relevant conversations. Search for keywords, phrases or hashtags that relate to topics on which you can serve as an expert resource.
  • Comb through forums, communities and message boards for relevant conversations. Facebook groups, comments on posts on Instagram or LinkedIn and Reddit forums can all provide ways to “listen” to what people talk about online—and find your next campaign topic idea.

Invite Your Target Market to Coffee or Lunch

Okay, you can’t invite everyone you want to reach to grab a cup of coffee with you. But you can identify a handful of people who represent your ideal clients—or who already are your ideal clients—and ask if you can interview them over lunch sometime.

This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a learning opportunity. Design eight to 10 open-ended questions for your meetings, ask them then sit back and listen to the answers.

The idea is to let your guests speak freely about whatever comes up for them. After conducting a few of these conversations, compare your notes.

Do you see any trends or patterns? Any phrases that were used by more than one person? These are things that can help you better understand your audience, how they think and, most importantly, the language that makes sense to them.

Start Conversations (Instead of Sending Out Surveys)

Sending out a mass email with a link to a survey and asking people to take the time to fill it out (even if it only takes two minutes) isn’t compelling. Instead of setting them a task, try opening a conversation.

You can still do this by tapping into your contact lists. But take a personalized, personable approach rather than seeking the opinion of the crowd. You can use this sample email to help you get started:

Hi [Name],
Hope you’re doing well! I wanted to reach out to share some news I’m excited about: I’m working on a new [whatever you want to create and launch—new blog, new podcast, new video series, etc.] for my firm, and I want to make sure what we put out into the world is valuable.

Here’s where I need your help: I don’t want to create something for us, I want to create it for you.

I have a few ideas that I want to explore for the [blog/podcast/video/social media/email course/ebook/etc.], including [list your initial ideas that you think might work well for the audience].

But I don’t want to just assume you’re interested in that.

I would love  to actually talk to you about what you’d find most interesting, valuable or useful.

What can I share or explain that would help you achieve your goals? What kind of topics interest you, or what do you want to learn more about?

Please let me know! I look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions.

Your Next Steps for Marketing Success

By using the strategies above, your target audience will develop your marketing ideas for you. They’ll also give you a clear picture of who they are, which allows you to develop client personas.

Use those personas now and in future marketing campaigns. They’ll tell you what your audience wants to hear—and how they want to hear it.

KaliHawlk
Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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Your Service, Your Story, Your Value

A financial planning practice must be able to articulate and demonstrate a planner’s value, story, service menu and deliverables—these remain the most fundamental elements of your business. After all, if you can’t convey and verbalize what you do, how will you attract people to your business and grow? And, if you don’t consistently deliver your value, how will you retain clients and sustain success? As we enter the fall, it is a good time to go back to the basics.

How well can you—and every team member regardless of role—answer the following fundamental questions?

Positioning: Who are You?

  1. What is your identity as a business? How does your community perceive who you are and what you do?
  2. Do you go beyond your title and firm name when someone asks you what you do for a living?
  3. Do you have a differentiating and intriguing story? Does each team member articulate a cohesive message?

Purpose: Why Do You Do What You Do?

  1. Why are you in this business?
  2. What is your vision? What is the team’s vision?
  3. Where are you leading the team? Where are you leading your clients?

Proposition: What Do You Offer and to Whom?

  1. Can you delineate the solutionsservices and deliverables that you offer to each client segment?
  2. What problems do you solve and for whom?
  3. What is your reactive service strategy? What is included in your proactive service matrix?
  4. How do you define and delineate the ultimate client experience?

Price: How Much Do You Charge for Your Deliverables?

  1. Do you consistently execute on your pricing model or are there more exceptions than standards?
  2. How transparent are you with pricing? Do your clients understand what they are paying and what they are receiving for that fee?

Process: How Do You Do What You Do?

  1. What is your defined process for working with prospects and clients and do you consistently execute it?
  2. Do your prospects have clear expectations on what they will experience when working with your team?
  3. How efficient and systemized is your business?

Differential: What Makes You Different?

  1. Can each team member answer the question, “Why should I do business with you?”

We recommend that you schedule quarterly off-site team sessions to focus on the strategic side of your financial planning practice. You should reflect and identify successes and challenges, and then look ahead and plan for the future. The questions listed above are a starting point. Consider the strength of your value today and what changes may need to take place as you head into the future.

Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights, where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions.

 

 


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New York Planners: Time Is Running Out for Your Firm to Qualify for The NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation Limited Exemption

Under the new NYDFS cybersecurity regulation (23 NYCRR Part 500), any individual operating with a license, registration, or similar authorization under New York banking, insurance or financial services is required to assess their security risk profile, design a cyber program that addresses their risks and file an annual certification that confirms they are in compliance with regulations.

September 27, 2017 is the deadline for filing your Notices of Exemption and failure to do so on time will cost your firm thousands if it would have qualified for the Limited Exemption.

You may qualify for a limited exemption if you meet any one of the following (the following information is from the New York Department of Financial services and is available here):

Section 500.19 (a)(1): Have fewer than 10 employees, including any independent contractors, of the Covered Entity or its Affiliates located in New York or responsible for business of the Covered Entity

Section 500.19 (a)(2): Less than $5,000,000 in gross annual revenue in each of the last three fiscal years from New York business operations of the Covered Entity and its Affiliates

Section 500.19 (a)(3): Less than $10,000,000 in year-end total assets, calculated in accordance with generally accepted principles, including assets of all Affiliates

Section 500.19 (b): An employee, agent, representative or designee of a Covered Entity, who is itself a Covered Entity, is exempt from this Part and need to develop its own cybersecurity program to the extent that the employee, agent, representative or designee is covered by the cybersecurity program of the Covered Entity

Section 500.19 (c): A Covered Entity that does not directly or indirectly operate, maintain, utilize or control any Information Systems, and that does not, and is not required to, directly or indirectly control, own, access, generate, receive or possess Nonpublic Information shall be exempt from the requirements of sections 500.02, 500.03, 500.04, 500.05, 500.06, 500.07, 500.08, 500.10, 500.12, 500.14, 500.15 and 500.16 of this Part

Section 500.19 (d): A Covered Entity under Article 70 of the Insurance Law that does not and is not required to directly or indirectly control, own, access, generate, receive or possess Nonpublic Information other than information relating to its corporate parent company (or Affiliates) shall be exempt from the requirements of sections 500.02, 500.03, 500.04, 500.05, 500.06, 500.07, 500.08, 500.10, 500.12, 500.14, 500.15, and 500.16 of this Part

To file for an exemption: log into the NYDFS Portal and file. Save the email you receive after filing for evidence.

Key Dates Under New York’s Cybersecurity Regulation (23 NYCRR Part 500)

 Here are other important dates to know when it comes to the new regulation (the following information is from the New York Department of Financial services and is available here):

  • March 1, 2017: 23 NYCRR Part 500 becomes effective.
  • August 28, 2017: 180-day transitional period ends. Covered Entities are required to be in compliance with requirements of 23 NYCRR Part 500 unless otherwise specified.
  • September 27, 2017: Initial 30-day period for filing Notices of Exemption under 23 NYCRR 500.19(e) ends. Covered Entities that have determined that they qualify for a limited exemption under 23 NYCRR 500.19(a)-(d) as of August 28, 2017 are required to file a Notice of Exemption on or prior to this date.
  • February 15, 2018: Covered Entities are required to submit the first certification under 23 NYCRR 500.17(b) on or prior to this date.
  • March 1, 2018: One year transitional period ends. Covered Entities are required to be in compliance with the requirements of sections 500.04(b), 500.05, 500.09, 500.12 and 500.14(b) of 23 NYCRR Part 500.
  • September 3, 2018: Eighteen-month transitional period ends. Covered Entities are required to be in compliance with the requirements of sections 500.06, 500.08, 500.13, 500.14(a) and 500.15 of 23 NYCRR Part 500.
  • March 1, 2019: Two-year transitional period ends. Covered Entities are required to be in compliance with the requirements of 23 NYCRR 500.11.

If you need assistance filing for an exemption, Financial Computer is providing complimentary assistance for FPA members. Click here to schedule some time with one of our cybersecurity experts.

Brian E
Brian Edelman is a cybersecurity expert and the CEO of Financial Computer, Inc., a company that provides cybersecurity, integrations and IT support to the financial services community.

 


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Life After the Storm

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and came for parts of Louisiana in late August. More than 51 inches of rain inundated Houston, according the National Weather Service. USA Today reports that more than 30,000 people have piled in to Houston shelters.

Now that the storm waters are starting to recede, the full scope of the damage is starting to come into focus. According to AccuWeather, the total damage is expected to reach $190 billion, almost four times the amount of damage caused by 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. Insured losses, according to CNBC, are expected to reach $20 billion.

There is a long road to recovery ahead. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin to assess and address the damage to your businesses and to your clients:

Take care of you first. With 475 members in the FPA of Houston chapter, no doubt you are suffering yourselves. Carolyn McClanahan wrote in Financial Planning that you must help yourselves before you help others. But when you do have some semblance of starting to recover and you’re ready to reach out to your clients.

Let your family, friends, and clients know you’re OK. You can Tweet, post on your firm’s Facebook or Twitter page.

Jonathan Swanburg, CFP®, an adviser affected by Harvey, wrote in Financial Planning how when he reached out to his clients, they only wanted to ensure that he was safe.

“When I sent out an email on Friday morning praying for our client’s families and explaining our firm’s contingency plans for flooding and loss of power, none responded on the business issues at hand,” Swanburg wrote. “Instead, they all expressed concern for my team and our families.”

Make sure they’re OK. Call them when you get a chance. Many of them might not answer but try until they do. Ensure they are physically and mentally alright before tackling the concrete financial issues. The emotional toll of this catastrophe will be just as high as the financial toll.

Many might need extensive repairs not covered by their insurance. According to the Washington Post, majority of the homeowners in areas hit hardest by Harvey don’t have flood insurance. Citing data form the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Washington Post reports that only 17 percent of homeowners in the Texas counties hardest hit have flood insurance.

“Unfortunately, most families in Houston do not have flood insurance and are going to be struggling for a very long time,” Swanburg wrote.

If your clients are among those without flood insurance, look into federal disaster relief aid (go to DisasterAssistance.gov), U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans, or home equity loans. Be advised that homes must first be repaired before a home equity line is approved.

Help with the insurance processes. CNBC reports that insured losses from this storm could reach up to $20 billion. And it will likely be some time before adjusters can get in and assess the damage. Advise clients to make only repairs that prevent further damage until adjusters can come. Have them take pictures of everything. Save all receipts for materials, housing, meals, and storage. Encourage them to file claims as quickly as possible. Keeping receipts will also help with claiming a casualty loss on their tax returns.

Utilize your contacts to expedite getting your clients the help they need. McClanahan said that insurance agents are overwhelmed during disasters. Adjusters work on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you have connections in the insurance industry, utilize them to better serve your clients.

“While Harvey was a catastrophe for millions of people,” Swanburg wrote, “it was also a reminder that at its best, financial planning is a uniquely personal business built around wonderful people and lifelong relationships.”

If you are an FPA member set to renew this month and were affected by Harvey, FPA will extend your membership while you’re recovering. If members affected by Harvey have registered for FPA Annual Conference, refunds will be issued if you are unable to make it. Contact Member Services for more information, 1-800-322-4237 or email MemberServices@OneFPA.org.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


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4 Steps to Generate Conviction and Build a Connection

In a recent group coaching session, Angela, a new financial adviser, shared a story of meeting with a client and knowing that the client needed renter’s insurance. Although the client saw no value in getting this type of coverage, Angela was adamant about helping him understand the risks he was taking, which far outweighed the costs. Instead of just telling him what she thought, she simply asked him enough questions to get him to come to his own conclusion that it was indeed something of value.

This level of conviction is an admirable pattern that I often see in veteran financial advisers and insurance agents but I rarely see in rookies. The reason is veterans simply have had more client experiences and thus know the value of (and rationale for) their recommendations. In other words, they generate conviction to build a connection.

The following is a brief overview of the steps that you could use to increase your own level of conviction for your products and services.

Step 1: Know Why Clients and Prospects Need Your Products and Services

Angela took a firm stance because she knew without a doubt that her client needed renter’s insurance. She had had other clients who didn’t have it and sadly paid the price when they experienced the loss of their possessions. It is vital to be able to articulate the tangible benefits or the “why” of your recommendations. If you cannot clearly connect the dots for your prospects and clients, they don’t know what they don’t know and could make some significant choices that could have significant consequences.

Step 2: Know the Right Questions to Ask

 When Angela shared her interaction with the group, I noticed she had included one very important detail, that she had asked her client questions rather than just telling him what she would do. The reason this is so important is because people hate to be sold to but they love to buy. To accomplish the aforementioned step, all you have to do is map out key questions to help lead the prospect or client down a path to understanding why they should buy.

Here are some examples of some of the questions that Angela had for her client:

  1. “How much do you think all of your valuables, furniture and many miscellaneous items in the house you rent are worth?”
  2. “Do you have that much money to replace them in case of a fire or flood?”
  3. “Do you know how much renter’s insurance is per month?”
  4. “Do you think spending $6 dollars a month is worth the cost of covering your items should you ever experience their unexpected loss?”

Angela didn’t make much on this policy but that wasn’t a concern, she had the best interest of her client in mind.

Step 3: Know How to Ask for the Order

 If you re-read the last question she asked, it was a closed-ended question that essentially asked for the order. Of course it was worth it for her client to pay $6 a month to cover all the items in his home. That’s a no-brainer! But, what if the cost had been much higher, say tens of thousands of dollars?

If this is the case, you craft as many questions as you need to help them understand the benefits. Next, you ask the questions and let the prospect or client end up making a decision they feel they made without you making it for them. Then, you summarize what they currently have versus the benefits of what you are recommending. Finally, you sum things up with this question, “Are you comfortable with moving forwarding doing [suggested action] based on the benefits of what we just discussed?” If you have led them to a place of clarity and provided plenty of information emphasizing the advantages, it should be a relatively easy to wrap the conversation.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Process

After you are finished with your appointment, it’s important to take time to evaluate your process. You need to know if your conviction was properly communicated to build a connection with them. If not, simply go back to the beginning and work on each of the steps discussed and fine tune them based on what you heard and noted during your discussion.

Why Conviction Builds a Connection

When I congratulated Angela on sticking to her guns, asking questions and letting her client come to his own conclusions, she already had felt good about what she did but the group and myself validating her efforts solidified that.

The reason generating conviction in your recommendations builds a connection with prospects and clients is because you are coming from a place of sincerity, it’s not about getting the sale but putting the client/individual’s needs first.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
 Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 


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Ageism Goes Both Ways

Ageism appears to be alive and well in our industry.

In just one day, I experienced it from opposite perspectives, and it turns out that no one age group is immune from criticism and the lumping of individuals into stereotypical buckets.

Generational Gaps on Display

First, I was in a meeting listening to an ensemble of tenured advisers describe the behaviors of their millennial colleagues. They characterized the younger generation of advisers with the usual labels—entitled, impatient, lackadaisical.

More pointedly, these older advisers dug into the millennial advisers’ expectations, noting that they wanted the security of a salary but resisted opportunities that come with taking risks. All of the tenured advisers remembered the stage of their career when the only thing they could rely on was what came from rounds of cold calling. “I remember when . . .” was the most frequently used phrase of the group.

All this talk stemmed from the tenured advisers’ need to evaluate the firm’s compensation policy. The younger advisers wanted salary increases after being in their position for just two years and still not producing any revenue. And one who had just five years under his belt had recently asked when he could expect partnership. The older group, used to a certain way of “earning one’s stripes,” was appalled at such a request.

Grumblings on the Previous Generation

Later the same day, I was in another meeting, this time with a group of young advisers who had their own generalizations to make. They characterized the baby boomer advisers as “milking” the organization of profits as they neared retirement and being technologically inept.

The younger advisers believed that the senior advisers should want to retire once they hit 65. At that age, the thinking went, the senior group would of course want to begin transferring ownership of the firm and fade into the sunset.

As the younger generation saw it, tenured advisers who hung around instead of retiring were full of excuses for sucking up all the income despite the fact that the younger advisers were the ones now doing all the work. The result, in their view, was a profit-sharing benefit plan with no profits going their way.

Moreover, these younger advisers lamented, the senior advisers needed to be “babysat” from a technology perspective, but they were closed-minded when the younger generation offered any marketing ideas, especially for anything related to social media.

What Gets Said Behind Closed Doors

Stereotypes can be a helpful tool. They can help us initially get our brains around vast amounts of information. How can you best reach a certain group of prospects, for example, based on their age, location and risk profile? Stereotypes are a starting point.

But stereotypes are dangerous when they lead to groupthink. When young advisers get together and spread the perception that certain characteristics automatically apply to all tenured advisers, it’s just as divisive as when tenured advisers get together and spread the perception that certain characteristics automatically apply to all millennial advisers.

It would seem wise—maybe even a breakthrough—for all of us to let the stereotypes go. We could instead recognize that tenured advisers are the ones who have built significant successful practices. And see younger advisers in their roles as the ones who will one day take over these businesses and hopefully improve upon them. Beyond those two positive perspectives, we could view our colleagues as individuals—and not representatives of a particular age group.

In fact, we don’t know what happens next or what the next generation will bring. What we do know is that ageism and divisiveness have persisted across generations. Perhaps we all need to chill out a bit!

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web
Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass. She is a regular contributor to the FPA/Journal of Financial Planning Practice Management Blog.