Some say there are two types of people in the world: those who see the glass as half-full (optimists) and others who see the glass as half-empty (pessimists). If this crisis is really an economic Pearl Harbor, as Warren Buffet says, both you and your clients need you to view the glass as half-full. Why? If you don't take an optimistic approach, you will be too distracted to offer your clients thoughtful guidance and keep your own business humming.
Let me give you a brief glimpse into the minds of advisors I know personally who have brought in anywhere from $50 million to $200 million of new assets in the past six months. First of all, they focus all of their energies only on what they can control. There is nothing they can do about their fee-based revenues being down along with their personal portfolios. And there was nothing they could have done to anticipate the meltdown of so many major financial institutions. (Not even the Oracle of Omaha was able to do this.) They are therefore not dwelling on it. They are focusing instead on two things: helping their clients and finding opportunities to acquire new clients.
First, they have a carefully crafted story for clients. This story isn't about predicting the direction of bonds or stocks, but it is about debunking frightening myths about the current state of the economy and markets. Here are the facts: Unemployment is 7.5 percent at this writing; in 1933, it was 25 percent. Inflation in past recessions has been so much higher than it is today — for example, it was at 15 percent in 1980. Advisors are putting a detailed recovery strategy in place for clients.
Second, they meet with their clients and communicate their repair and recovery strategy by taking direct action in the form of:
- Reviewing and adjusting financial plans.
- Adjusting Investment Policy Statements accordingly.
- Organizing and coordinating all financial documents.
- Communicating unbiased advice and counsel.
- Reviewing the cost structure of their client/advisor relationship.
- Meeting with their clients and their CPAs.
- Providing outstanding service.
Third, they offer to help clients' family members, friends and colleagues. They are doing this as a value-add service, but in a direct way by:
- Uncovering names within each affluent client's center-of-influence
- During client recovery meetings, if they have a name, they ask to meet this person, offering their services as a “second opinion.”
- If they don't have a name, they ask, “Who in your office (family, golfing partners, etc.) should I meet with to make certain their recovery strategy is in place?”
- They meet with prospect and client together whenever possible.
- They meet with prospect and prospect's CPA whenever possible.
Fourth, they demonstrate Ritz Carlton service coupled with FedEx efficiency. This professionalism takes the form of:
- Providing an agenda for each meeting.
- Using appointment cards and reminder calls.
- Delivering a summary statement following each meeting (electronic and mail).
- A well-trained and committed support staff.
- Knowing everything possible about clients, prospects and CPAs.
- Performing little personal niceties.
Actively engage in these four steps and you'll find yourself viewing the glass as half-full. You may find that your attitude towards your clients and colleagues over the next 12 to 24 months could define the success of your business for the next 10 years.
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent www.oechsli.com