The death of sales-focused advice
The death of sales-focused advice
Looking back over my decade-long career in financial services, it never ceases to amaze me the variances in how I viewed the expertise and services I delivered, compared to the interpretations I now hear rubbing shoulders with fellow consumers.
I could impressively call myself a financial planner all day long, but 99 per cent of the people I met expected me to sell them investment and insurance products.
The problem, I realised, was that the future of consumer expectations and technological advancements didn't exactly look friendly towards sales people.
In reality, the industry has already backed itself into a corner from years of promoting the 'cheapest rates!', '$0 fees' and the all-devastating factor of commissions-based income, giving clients the impression that such services are not actually worth paying for.
In short, the future of what consumers are going to be willing to pay for more than likely doesn't hold a place for sales-focused advice.
Change opportunities: advice, advice and more advice
It's vital that you prioritise structuring your business towards providing and being valued for professional and strategic advice.
That means if you can't charge for advice, this box has not been checked and you're still operating as a salesperson.
In my last year as a financial planner focusing on risk insurance, I literally changed my business card to read 'risk professional'. In meeting with new clients, I provided an opportunity for them to complete a confidence assessment for both the customer service, professional advice and value for money aspects of their existing circumstance including the current service provider. This then gave me the opportunity to present what it is I actually provide in these categories.
Advice: We are professional risk advisers. We will complete a comprehensive risk assessment process giving you accurate forecasts in a loss or claim-type event so you can identify the inconsistencies in your current program. We will also perform a market assessment to see which product providers can facilitate the required program at the best rate.
Service: We partner with you through the following service options to ensure your risk program remains both current and accurate as your position changes into the future.
Cost: Our costs for the above process is $X (we charged an upfront fee that was reimbursed from commissions earned if they proceeded with our recommendations).
The message? You don't ask a lawyer to do up a legal defence for you to consider and quote against other lawyers. You don't ask an accountant to do up a tax strategy that you then invite three others to review and provide quotes.
I am a debt professional. I am a wealth professional. I am a property professional. This is what my advice and expertise is worth. And no, I'm not a quoting machine.
Change opportunities: ongoing connection
Lastly, as an adviser you must transcend transactions to a place of being viewed as an adviser in your area of expertise, that your clients rely on and pay to provide ongoing contributions to achieving their financial and lifestyle goals.
Tax, risk protection, investments, property and debt are all factors that will continue into your client's future, hence so too does their need for your expertise.
You must connect with your clients on an ongoing basis, staying connected to both their changing position and how your service can integrate with the strategies and recommendations of their other service providers.
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