Change is tough. Just ask anyone who has ever attempted to lose weight or quit smoking. The easy refrain is that bad habits are hard to break. But sometimes, good habits stop working and they can be just as difficult to change. These days, many financial advisors are being forced to undo behavioral and attitudinal patterns that used to lead to success. Suddenly the game has changed and those old habits have become obstacles to doing good business.
Let's take a look at 5 habits that used to work, and the corresponding changes required:
Old Rule #1 - Get the money!
Remember the “anyone who can fog a mirror” qualifications for opening a new account? Advisors who couldn't open accounts failed, and those who could often ended up with clients of every imaginable profile.
Inconvenient Truth #1 -Right services, right client.
The new world insists advisors must determine the profile of the client they want to serve, the services needed, and always place the client's best interests at the heart of every decision.
Old Rule #2 - Stay on the phone at your desk!
Remember the edict: If you're not on the phone, you're not making money? Smart advisors of yester-year quickly figured out how to leverage this truth by investing in cold-callers.
Inconvenient Truth #2 - Get out of the office.
These days, wealth management is a contact sport. The idea is to master the art of schmoozing with affluent centers of influence.
Old Rule #3 - More is better.
More clients used to equal more revenue and more security. Having 800 clients was considered better than 500, 1500 clients better than 800, and so on.
Inconvenient Truth #3 - Less is more.
Rainmakers understand that fewer clients with more assets each equals better service, more revenue, and more new affluent clients. Some rainmakers have only 40 client relationships, but they are the right relationships.
Old Rule #4 - Product of the month.
Although sales contests have long been banned, advisors are still often compensated differently for different kinds of accounts. Advisors have been conditioned to be motivated by short-term external rewards.
Inconvenient Truth #4 - Surprise & delight of the month.
The best advisors know everything about their clients as well as the prospects in their pipeline. Every month they determine which clients and prospects they will “wow” with a tailored meeting, outing or event.
Old Rule #5 - Mechanical (fully leveraged) service.
In yester-year, successful advisors would hire low paid support personnel or interns to manage service so that they could stay on the phone reeling in new clients. Ghostwritten newsletters, an occasional scripted phone call — this was considered a good client service model.
Inconvenient Truth #5 - Personalized Service.
Today's elite advisors know that client loyalty is essential, and the top two criteria for strengthening affluent client relationships are solving problems and personalized service.
Granted, these new rules all appear to be driven by common sense. However, our most current research on financial advisors tells us that they are not common practice. Change is difficult, but it's essential to survival in this brave new world.
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.oechsli.com