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Winning In Tough Times: Part 2

Nashville: "I'm getting killed, my fee-based revenue is way down, my deferred stock that I've been planning on retiring on is in the toilet. And, with the non-stop incoming calls, I don't have the time or energy to meet with my clients," moaned Sam.

Nashville: "I'm getting killed, my fee-based revenue is way down, my deferred stock that I've been planning on retiring on is in the toilet. And, with the non-stop incoming calls, I don't have the time or energy to meet with my clients," moaned Sam. "I'm done, you can stick a fork in me."

After listening to Sam's concerns, I responded with our "Winning in Tough Times" mantra:

Your actions over the next 12 months are likely to define your practice for the next 10 years.

Think about that statement for a moment. We are in the midst of a "Category 5 Financial Tsunami" and Sam's toast. Sadly, he's not the only advisor whose personal finances have been crushed. He, like so many others, is being forced to react to a deluge of daily incoming calls and leaves the office exhausted. But there are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed.

Obviously Sam and his peers should reread my last Practice Management e-letter, the first in my "Winning in Tough Times" series. He needs to get his head back in the game. There are a number of factors interfering with Sam's ability to engage in a strong and proactive defense. (When referring to "defense," I'm talking about strengthening the loyalty of your top clients.)

The primary reason Sam is receiving non-stop calls is because he has too many clients. Like many advisors, he has procrastinated in segmenting his book and jettisoning smaller clients. Mistakenly viewing smaller clients as his security blanket, he is now paying the price: He's now obligated to help these clients through this storm. In Sam's case, it doesn't seem like he's prepared.

Another issue interfering with Sam's defense is his focus on his personal financial affairs versus those of his clients. Over the years, whenever I encountered an advisor more concerned with personal production as opposed to the quality of advice they were providing clients, I was essentially witnessing an accident waiting to happen. These missteps usually occur in turbulent times. Rather than scrambling to protect his cash flow and lifestyle, Sam needs to believe—without proof—that by doing right by his clients, he will not only survive this storm, he will thrive. Nonetheless, in order for this to ensue, all of his energies must be directed to his top clients.

The silver lining in engaging in such a robust defense is that this Category 5 Financial Tsunami provides a tremendous opportunity for penetrating your top client's centers-of-influence, which will be detailed in the next Practice Management e-letter.

Advisors need to get fully engaged—or else they should begin to look for another profession. In the midst of crisis there is no time for self-pity, hesitation, laziness or personal weakness. Your reality is that when the dust settles—and it will settle—the role of trusted advisor is going to take an even greater importance to affluent investors. This should come as no surprise, since Wall Street has all but nuked its trust bond with the affluent. However, as the graph indicates, the trend is going in the right direction, but there is still work to be done on the "trust factor. "

Make no mistake about it: Doing the right things today will strengthen that elusive affluent trust factor and carry you to a sweeter tomorrow.
This means that the advisors of the future are those individuals playing a strong defensive game in the midst of today's Category 5. Nothing about your defensive game (loving your clients) needs to be complicated. Good service, understanding, and time and attention wrapped up in calm, reassuring and knowledgeable advice is a defensive game plan. 

The following is an action plan that Rainmakers are using with tremendous success in the midst of this Category 5 Tsunami. This action plan is pulled straight from the Winning in Tough Times webinar series we're doing with Registered Rep. In a nutshell, it's all about loving your top clients.

  • Significantly increase the personal time you spend with top clients.
  • Communicate your story: the status of their portfolio, their financial plan, the markets, Wall Street, your vision of the future and game plan.
  • Provide a "Market Update" synopsis of your story relevant to their portfolio, financial planning and your game plan.
  • Review, update or reinforce the realities of their financial plan and current portfolio.
  • Organize and coordinate all their financial documents; introduce a financial organizer to clients who do not yet have one.
  • Offer to meet with their CPA to go over all of the above.
  • Surprise and delight your top clients: Little things that are personal go a long way.
  • Source names from their centers-of-influence: family, friends and colleagues.
  • Hold regular "Market Update" events: breakfast, lunch, coffee, etc.
Next time, I'm going to explain how Rainmakers are incorporating an aggressive and highly effective offense into their defensive game plan. Only in a Category 5 can you so blatantly combine both defense and offense.

If you would like to listen to the FREE version of our Winning in Tough Times Teleconference call, visit our: Download Center.

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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