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5 Ways to Guarantee an Unproductive Summer

Summertime can provide ideal opportunities for advisors to improve relationships with affluent clients.

Nashville -- "I've always found it difficult to do much serious business during the summer," Gerry said to me after a talk I gave. Then he asked, in a way as though to get confirmation, "Don't you think the summer is a time when you should scale back business activities?"

Gerry did not get the confirmation he was seeking. However, when I asked him to list his role models within the world of financial services, he responded immediately: Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger. After complimenting him on his selection and reinforcing the importance of modeling ourselves after elite performers, I suggested he approach this summer by applying some thoughts by Charlie Munger.

So, in the spirit of Charlie Munger, the following are the five ways that I outlined for Gerry that will guarantee that he has an unproductive summer (the polar opposite of an elite advisor):

1. Don't Read - As an advisor in today's volatile world, it's not important that you have a historical perspective, a depth and breadth of industry knowledge. In the words of an affluent focus group member, "I like my advisor, he's a good guy, but he doesn't have a clue." Wow!

Reality: In Munger's own words, "In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time - none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads - and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out." One of the most important criteria for the affluent when meeting a financial professional is their impression of the advisor's competency and professionalism. Reading on a regular basis not only increases your knowledge base and makes you a well-rounded person; it makes you more interesting.
(See Matt Oechsli's reading list below.)

2. Don't Prospect - Rainmakers stop prospecting during the summer, they stop working on their sales skills and take a break from social prospecting. In addition, today's affluent investor isn't concerned about their family's financial health during the summer.

Reality: Putting your prospecting on hold because of the summer is the equivalent to Peyton Manning not training during the off-season. In addition to constantly working on their skills, rainmakers understand that opportunity abounds in today's environment. Some of our latest 2010 Q1 research on affluent investors states that most investors would welcome a second opinion if they had such an option. Also, it’s important to note that the more affluent a prospect, the more likely they are to want a second opinion. This is the opportunity of a lifetime - so take advantage!

3. Don't Attempt to Spend Time With Your Clients (they're on vacation) - Your affluent clients don't want to socialize with you during the summer. After all, they are planning on skipping town and none of them will be having barbecues, playing golf, or going to the pool.

Reality: A common misconception is that everyone is traveling. While some clients do make travel arrangements during the summer - like all holiday periods, it is a time for socializing – such socializing is one of the most potent rainmaking activities. Being able to connect with your clients on a social level will not only earn loyalty, but it will afford you an opportunity to meet their friends.

4. Don't get to know your clients personally - Your clients do not want you to know anything about them personally. They only care about their investments and want the relationship to be strictly business. Sure...

Reality: Our research shows that your affluent clients want you to know as much about them personally as professionally. They want you to take a genuine interest in them. Knowing your clients' hobbies, interests, and other hot buttons will afford you opportunities this summer to provide them with presents and activities geared to their personal likes.

5. Don't hold any intimate (social) client events - Your clients have no interest in attending fun events during the summer. They have their own plans, go on vacation, and or go into hibernation and have no interest in coming to a social gathering. Duh?

Reality: There are numerous creative ways to leverage the outdoors during the summer months for intimate client events. Look to hold a barbecue or take a few clients to a baseball game where they can bring some friends. Summertime is a social time and a very natural way to hold a few fun events and penetrate your top clients’ centers of influence.

It's one thing to have role models, but for a role model to be anything other than a hero we admire from afar, we must hold ourselves accountable to making the necessary adjustments. Charlie Munger doesn't shut down during the summer!

Gerry has since renewed his commitment to summertime rainmaking. As a starting point he's selected two heroes that are worthy of everyone's admiration. Incidentally, Charlie Munger considers Benjamin Franklin his greatest role model and like Franklin, he is curious, patient, practical, and a life-long learner. So, my dear friends, have a summer that would make both Charlie and Ben proud!

If you would like to download a free copy of “50 Favorites from Matt Oechsli,” visit our free download center. This reading list is not 100% complete, but should be helpful as you search for some good reads this summer. You will notice some good ones from Buffett and Munger on the list. Enjoy!

Also, if you haven't already - join The Oechsli Institute's Group on LinkedIn!

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].

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