On a recent conference call, one participant, Jack, casually told the other team leaders on the line that he and his partner brought in $80 million of net new money in just four months. There was a moment of silence as his colleagues registered surprise, even skepticism. “What specifically did you do to bring in that money?” someone asked, almost as a challenge.
The answer was simple, Jack said: More face time with an upgraded list of ideal clients and more referral requests. It also helped that he and his partner snagged one big account. “We simply concentrated on doing the activities that we agreed upon during our first group meeting,” he said. “To be honest, we're feeling a bit guilty because we only average four days a week doing our fixed daily activities. It's amazing what you can uncover when you decide what needs to be done and then actually do it.”
Exactly. But why did this come as a surprise to the other multimillion-dollar team leaders participating in this, our third conference call, following a workshop on “How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice”? Everyone had committed to pursue affluent clients during the workshop, but none came close to Jack's numbers.
“Who else has been having as many face-to-face encounters with ideal affluent prospects as Jack and his partner?” I asked the group. There was no response. Why? Because the other team leaders were not actively pursuing opportunities on a regular basis. All the other accountability update reports focused on team member issues, finding new investment vehicles, jettisoning small clients, searching for contact management software, and the like. Only Jack talked about activities directed toward attracting affluent prospects.
I continue to be perplexed by the failure of veteran financial advisors to become personally engaged in affluent prospecting activities. One of my pet sayings is that “activity drives the dream.” Yet, in the midst of arguably the greatest marketing opportunity for attracting upper middle class and affluent assets, many financial advisors are not working intently to attract affluent prospects. Why? What is holding them back?
A handful of factors contribute to this apparent malaise. First, many veterans have surpassed their earnings and lifestyle goals. By succeeding beyond their expectations, the initial dreams, which served as fuel for aggressive prospect hunting, have been realized. Subconsciously, many veterans have become far too comfortable.
Second, and directly linked to the first, are the habits developed in reaching this level of comfort. In the 1990s, it was easy to make money and that spawned bad habits, both in behavior and attitude. Habits form easily, but are difficult to break.
Finally, there appears to be a lack of confidence in knowing “what” to do and “how” to do it — especially when it comes to marketing and selling intangible services in the high-powered world of the rich. New strategies and tactics are required, and face-to-face skills are critical.
So here's my coaching tip of the month, broken down into three steps. First, reconnect with your dream. If you don't have one, it's time to find one. The world of the comfortable is no place to build a 21st century financial practice catering to the affluent.
Second, determine which specific daily activities you must perform to drive your dream. Quantity isn't the issue. It's face-to-face quality that counts.
Third, assess your skills and begin to learn the right ones immediately. But if you want to take a page from Jack's success, recognize that the skills will not improve in a classroom or behind a book. Jack and his partner had numerous discussions with my office about what to say, how to present the information and the best use of back-up materials, but each session was coupled with a face-to-face encounter in the world of serious money.
Consider these three steps as the foundation on which to build success. Each requires a specific set of skills. Mastery requires experience. Activity drives the dream, and it must be the right activity done extraordinarily well.
MattOechsli is an author and president of the consulting firm Oechsli Institute. oechsli.com