Seminar last night

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Feb 27, 2009 12:17 pm

In the midst of all the "what's going wrong and this economy/market/Milky Way Galaxy sux" that we're all dealing with, I thought I would share some positive mojo, and maybe encourage us all in the process.

 
Did my normal "Maximizing Your Retirement Plan Distributions" seminar last night at a local cafe, the one I do about once a quarter.  The seminar is the preapproved RJ Powerpoint already in the system.  Sent out simple invites to all my A & B clients, one page preapproved RJ letter on the system, nothing fancy.  Got 25 signed up, and 20 actually showed up last night, including 4 new referral prospects.   I get everybody settled in and happy with their food, then I start the program.  Set the agenda, talk about what we're going to cover, encourage them to ask question all along the way, then launch into the Powerpoint.  Remember, I've got 4 new high 6 figure rollover prospects ( Florida DROP, 401k and a TSP guy) in the group, and 16 existing clients that I know well and have worked with for quite a while, and some of them are now looking at retiring a 2nd or 3rd time with new rollover bucks.
 
So, we're cruizin' through the program, hitting all the rollover mechanics, and one of my existing clients (small credit union IRA transfer to me years ago, but still working and contributing to current 403b) raises her hand:
 
Her: "This isn't really a question just on what you're talking about right this second, but I just wanted to say something about what's going on right now."
 
Me (a little bit confused): "Okay, go ahead."
 
Her: "I just wanted to say that we all know that this is a really bad time right now in the economy, and the whole world, and the market, and nobody really knows when things will get better.  We're all really confused and scared and we don't know if we'll ever be able to retire the way we thought we could (at this point she starts to break down and cry, I mean really CRY), but I just wanted to say I'm so thankful that you are staying in touch with all of us and at least talking about what's going on.  We know you can't fix it, but you're doing what you can with what we've given you to manage, and we appreciate that.  Thank you for helping us understand this."
 
Me: silence, then "Wow, thanks."
 
By the time she got done, every other woman in the room was also crying (that silent estrogen clarion call that also announces when it's time for them all to go the bathroom together), and one of the husbands actually got up and shook my hand and gave me that quick manly shoulder hug thing.  I'm standing there stunned.  Got my composure back, finished the presentation, we did a full hour of Q&A after, and have meetings already set with the 4 prospects.
 
What's my point?  My point is this: Our clients really need us right now.  They WANT to need us, and they are hungry for info, encouragement, a plan, an explanation, something.  They will respond with amazing reactions, things we probably don't anticipate.  Referrals, new $, a stronger bond with existing relationships, etc.  Get in front of them and let them know you're on duty.  They know we didn't cause this pullback, and as long you didn't blow somebody completely to bits with a 100% allocation to FNM, they're probably not as bad off as they think they are.
 
And that's all I have to say about that.
 
Feb 27, 2009 2:10 pm

Wow, that's a great story, and great feedback.  It's good to get some positive karma going on this board right now.  Thanks.

Feb 27, 2009 11:45 pm

Bump ... great story. 

Feb 28, 2009 6:48 am

That's awesome, very inspiring !

Feb 28, 2009 10:30 am

Anyone else having success with seminars? I have one planned for the end of march..

Feb 28, 2009 10:46 am

Thanks for sharing. I'd be very interested to know if you actually close any business from this seminar. It's great to educate and provide an avenue for folks to vent, but are they actually willing to move/re-invest money when push comes to shove? I've been doing one "micro seminar" every week since the new year. Getting great response, highly qualified new prospects. My closing ratio is significantly below what it's been over the past ten years, though. Frustrating.

Feb 28, 2009 10:55 am

When you say "micro seminar", what are you doing?

Feb 28, 2009 11:02 am

I am hosting a casual Q&A dinner at the best local restaurant weekly. No formal sales presentation, just an introduction, conversation and Q&A. Sending invites to specific households in the very best neighborhoods in town. I've been getting between one and four couples per week (I cap attendance at 10 guests; this way, all I do is reserve a table a day ahead. No need for a special room or any special treatment at the restaurant.)

Feb 28, 2009 1:11 pm
YHWY:

Thanks for sharing. I'd be very interested to know if you actually close any business from this seminar. It's great to educate and provide an avenue for folks to vent, but are they actually willing to move/re-invest money when push comes to shove? I've been doing one "micro seminar" every week since the new year. Getting great response, highly qualified new prospects. My closing ratio is significantly below what it's been over the past ten years, though. Frustrating.

 
I'll keep you posted.  Since one of the new prospect couples brought their credit union IRA statements with them to the meeting and gave them to me to start transferring when they mature in a week, I feel pretty good about my closing ratio on this one.  I've got a meeting set with them Monday am.  Typical small credit union IRA, but they've got other stuff coming, and bidness is bidness.
 
Here's the thing on this...Even if I closed zero new biz, I still feel like the $300 I spent on this was a good investment, because of the furthering of the bond 'twixt them and me.  But I do think there will be a tangible return on the investment, as well.
 
 
 
 
Feb 28, 2009 1:23 pm

"Even if I closed zero new biz, I still feel like the $300 I spent on
this was a good investment, because of the furthering of the bond
'twixt them and me.  But I do think there will be a tangible return on
the investment, as well."

 I totally see your point. However, I have really been trying to not allow myself to slide into that mindset too much lately. In my case, I worry that it will lead to complacence and avoidance behavior. I'm trying to get more critical of myself and my business and tangibly grow it in this tough environment. For me, making contacts, creating prospects is fine, staying in close touch with clients is fine, but I'm demanding results of myself. Because of this, experiencing a lower than usual closing ratio is very frustrating. Each week, my goal is to tweak my approach in order to CLOSE NEW BUSINESS (period). Good luck!

Feb 28, 2009 1:57 pm

Kudos for doing the seminar. I hear from my clients that the "blast 5000 invites out" approach is creeping back into fashion. I refuse to do any more of those.

Feb 28, 2009 6:51 pm
YHWY:

I am hosting a casual Q&A dinner at the best local restaurant weekly. No formal sales presentation, just an introduction, conversation and Q&A. Sending invites to specific households in the very best neighborhoods in town. I've been getting between one and four couples per week (I cap attendance at 10 guests; this way, all I do is reserve a table a day ahead. No need for a special room or any special treatment at the restaurant.)



YHWY
I am doing one of these in a couple of weeks. I have three couples coming and have invited them each to invite a friend. I actually have someone from my Equity Strat Group joining us to talk about equitymarket and a wholesaler to talk about fixed income market, i am going to talk about my process. Honestly, at this point have no clue how i am gonna present it. I'm not a big fan of pitchbooks but dont want to give myself the opportunity to ramble too much.
Anway, question.... in a small group like that, do you find folks feeling a little intimidated, or uncomfortable?
And whats the strucuture you use, what do you talk about specifically?
This is the first time i've done a client event of ANY size, i am thinking i need to get it down and do it once a month or once every six weeks. Trying to find some strucuture

Feb 28, 2009 6:59 pm

In my case, I don't go in with anything prepared. In every case, I was not the one to bring up business. In each case, the prospects initiated the topic and were VERY candid about their situation and what they were looking for. My goal is to simply get in the presence of folks who invest (significantly). From there, the prospects should tell you what they want. If they ask a specific question, give a specific answer, but sometimes, the best strategy is to shut up, wait and listen. Good luck!
 

Feb 28, 2009 9:30 pm
Gordon Gekko:

Kudos for doing the seminar. I hear from my clients that the "blast 5000 invites out" approach is creeping back into fashion. I refuse to do any more of those.

 
Did you not have success with these in the past??
Mar 1, 2009 11:11 am

I had some success but they seemed to run their course. You end up getting a lot of plate lickers and the time and money that goes into it seems disproportionate to the results. Then again, if you are good at that sort of thing and have the results to warrant the time and effort - good for you!

Mar 1, 2009 6:17 pm

I do plenty of seminars and they can definitely work wonderfully, but attendance always slides when the markets struggle.   I think you are seeing some clients consider a change in their investment strategy and their broker/firm, but the money in motion has been slow.  Investor confidence is totally shaken and even the most sincere and educated broker is having his/her integrity questioned.  Communication and education is crucial, but how do any of us explain what to do going forward, and why clients should remain optimistic? 

Mar 1, 2009 6:47 pm
Sellout21:

I do plenty of seminars and they can definitely work wonderfully, but attendance always slides when the markets struggle.   I think you are seeing some clients consider a change in their investment strategy and their broker/firm, but the money in motion has been slow.  Investor confidence is totally shaken and even the most sincere and educated broker is having his/her integrity questioned.  Communication and education is crucial, but how do any of us explain what to do going forward, and why clients should remain optimistic? 



Good post, relates to what i am thinking a lot of recently.
Nobody can deny, that this time it really is different. Yeah, its not so different that the markets wont come back, and when they do, like always, most investors will be caught flatfooted and in cd's treasuries and other mattress strategies. But the fact is this is obviously bigger than anything we've seen in terms of investor confidence, and massive losses. I heard a number today, that was astounding - $40 trillion in market losses worldwide. I dont think its gonna be another 3-6 months before the next bull roars. (i'm sure i'll get bashed by some for these comments, all i can say is eyes wide open.
So what DO we tell clients. How DO we invest their money from here on.
There are a lot of smart people who think that we are facing years and years of stagnation both in the economy and the markets. Not sure i agree with that assesment, i just dont know enough - i'm not an economist. But i;ve heard it from people that are worth listening to, besides Roubini.
We MUST be out marketing, and doing a seminar, or a dinner, or whatever gets us in front of traffic, be constructive, the only way for us to handle this if we want to stay in the business. I'm planning on doing them. And talking to people about the need to be tactical. I am not willing to put clients money into the hands of the "Consults" money managers who buy in their selected style and stand in front of a moving freight train no matter what. I am either gonna find managers that are tactical and proactive or i'll continue managing the money myself. Thats how i'm taking a proactive approach.
Curious to hear what everyone thinks about this and how it will affect what they do for clients, how they do it, what your conversations are with clients who thought they had a high risk tolerance, and have already been hurt pretty badly, and how the new environment will shape or change the opportunities in and future of our profession.

Mar 1, 2009 6:59 pm

Good post Bob.  And I agree with you--the people who think the bull market is just around the corner are out of their minds.

You always have to be at least riding the wave, if not in front of it.  It's imperative that the client knows you're making moves that make sense, and why.  I don't care if you're a bull or a bear, you have to be proactive--nothing quite like clients getting statement after statement after statement and realize you haven't moved them out of their investments, and they haven't gotten a single phone call.  Ripe pickings for a guy like me.

I was at lunch in January with some of my SB buddies, and one of them said that he believed we were in a trading range of 8000-9000.  Putting aside my amusement of how much conventional wisdom comes from CNBC, I asked him what he was doing, considering we were at the high end of that range.  Are you selling your clients' positions, moving them to cash?  Well, no--he said.  And I asked him, if you honestly believe we're dropping more than 10% from here, why not?  Well, because it's too much trouble, blah blah blah.

It makes me sick to my stomach to hear that kind of crap, all day long.  The same retards who ride their bank stock all the way to zero, and talk among themselves pretty certain that the markets are going to keep falling, will sit there and tell their clients to stay in for the long haul, we're coming back any second, blah blah blah.  If the public had any idea the conversations that take place between brokers at the office and in the restaurants--and the dissonance that takes place when it's the client on the other side of the conversation, instead of a money manager--there would be lynchings in every city in America.

Mar 1, 2009 7:41 pm

I like a more tactical strategy, but the problem is two fold:  1) it takes more time and energy away from gathering assets and growing your book.  Trying to actively manage a client's portfolio by yourself and actively prospect is extremely difficult.  2) if you try to outsource tactical management, it's hard to find long term track records.  Even with the best tactical managers you are going to be selling 'relative performance' over the past 3 or 5 years.  It might have lost less than other funds or indices, but still looks lousy to a prospect.  

Mar 1, 2009 8:44 pm
Sellout21:

I like a more tactical strategy, but the problem is two fold:  1) it takes more time and energy away from gathering assets and growing your book.  Trying to actively manage a client's portfolio by yourself and actively prospect is extremely difficult.  2) if you try to outsource tactical management, it's hard to find long term track records.  Even with the best tactical managers you are going to be selling 'relative performance' over the past 3 or 5 years.  It might have lost less than other funds or indices, but still looks lousy to a prospect.  


I dont find that running the money takes as much time as you think. I run three models, (should probably run 4 or 5 but not there yet). And i use the block trading system to scale it and a discretionary platform. So when i want to make a change in model 1, in 30 client portfolios, its no phone calls and one trade.