Atlantic City: "It's seems that the good old American Dream is dying a slow death," Bill said with a smirk. "There's really no good news anywhere."
As I replied to Bill, if he's going to have that attitude, he's absolutely right. But I don't actually agree with Bill's thinking. In fact, if you study history you will quickly discover that we've got it pretty easy. On that note, let me frame this issue of the Practice Management newsletter around the following bit of wisdom from a great American poet.…
"Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pursuing your dreams in the midst of this financial crisis requires working clothes. You must start with knowledge, but unless you apply that knowledge you won't get results.
Nothing in life is so remarkable as the variety of formulas for success offered by both highly credible and not so credible sales and marketing consultants. But the general rule has long been that a high-level salesperson could expect to live the American dream.
Look to the future, think big, work hard, sell-sell-sell, it's the land of opportunity. This mindset has permeated deep into the psyche of sales professionals everywhere. Everyone is intent on making better lives for themselves.
But many others had such dreams, too. Your clients. And, as much as anything, the dream included providing for the next generation. People knew, implicitly and explicitly, that it was their responsibility to give their children more opportunities, more education, more tools, more skills, etc. to make their way in the world. This is where a value-based, high integrity, sales professional--you--enters the picture.
The times have taken a dramatic turn. America is no longer the isolated fertile giant of eternal optimism. People now, more than ever before, are beginning to question the American dream. They are wondering if it is possible to provide for their children. Many shudder at the mere thought of the expense of sending their children to college. Yet your time to sell is now!
The bottom line is that nobody will cast blame on you as long as you do your job, day after day, providing the highest quality, value and service. Yet many advisors are still engaging in the kinds of sales and marketing tactics used by stockbrokers. Sure, they were successful yesterday but are totally inappropriate for today. Thus in the midst of these changes it's time to look into the mirror. People need your services but the game has changed. It's no longer selling the financial product of the week.
The market environment is constantly changing, and consumers are more knowledgeable and skeptical than ever before. Let's face it, the affluent investor is worried about his family's financial health.
Because of all the aforementioned, people are pushing off decisions that involve money. But they are increasingly aware of the need to protect and provide security for their families. Herein lies your challenge.
As you now know, blame isn't being cast in your direction and as a good productive financial advisor, you still have the ability to live the American dream. You can control your destiny, provide for your family and earn an income that would be the envy of most. Yet there is a price to pay. And as always it must be paid in advance. You must work hard....you must work smart...you must have focus....you must have discipline....you must consistently go outside of your comfort zone...and you must provide value that serves a real need.
Many financial advisors have developed bad habits (attitudes) during the boom years and now, like Bill, consider the price for success too dear...but is it really?
What services are you capable of providing? What role do you play in the lives of your existing and soon to be clients? You must have an absolute clear understanding of your answers to such questions.
Once you answer these questions, you essentially begin to look at yourself in the mirror. The next step is to re-evaluate your goals. Are you utilizing your talents? Are you earning the income that allows you to fully provide for your family? If the answer to these questions is yes, then good for you! If the answer is no, then let's get to work! Either way, let's re-set the dream.
Re-Setting Your Dream
· Long Range Goals: Income, lifestyle, etc.
· 2009 Goals: new clients, new assets, production, income, etc.
· Fixed Daily Activities: high impact affluent loyalty, wealth management, and rainmaker activities.
Chances are, you don't feeling fully comfortable with this line of questioning and the idea of re-setting your dreams. This is good. You are beginning the search for self-knowledge and it is always challenging. Which is why so few people carry it through.
Nothing here is new. Socrates was perhaps the best-known proponent of self-knowledge. His assertion that "the unexamined life is not worth living" is as true today as it was when he made it over two thousand years ago.
But how does one examine his or her life? How does one gain control over a career that has evolved without thorough planning?
Some would say the process begins automatically when a new year begins and goals are set with management. Others would say it happens when they encounter unforeseen expenses that put a squeeze on their lifestyle. But too often the moment passes and these resolutions never get beyond idle talk. Talk is cheap--but your career and the lives of your clients are far from it.
Has this financial crisis pulled your career off track? Have you achieved all the goals you have set for yourself? Are you an asset for your clients? Are you satisfied with the course your life has taken? This is what re-evaluating is all about. You are the only person who can lay you off. Have you already been given the pink slip? Or, have you been assigned more responsibility? The choice is yours.
No matter what stage of life or career you are in, you can change. Most financial advisors I've worked with over the years have changed for the better. This takes re-evaluation, focus, and commitment. You are going to need your working clothes on to make the most out of your life and re-set your dreams in these turbulent times. You must be prepared to grow both personally and professionally. You must be prepared to think of your career as a journey that will be under consistent self-review to determine whether you're on course.
The summer is the perfect time to take a good look into the mirror. Re-commit to your profession, go outside your comfort zone, tap into your talents, set goals, and create a life worthy of your talents. This complex ever changing world needs people who can still live the American dream. You can live it. You can help people provide a better future for their children. You can provide a better future for your children. These challenging times have created an awesome responsibility. The American Dream lives on...just do it!
If you would like to refocus your goals and pursuit of the American Dream, download our Synergistic Goal Setting Exercise. This exercise combines both the conscious and subconscious mind in a concerted drive for success.
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.
If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].