Annuities

Building a Business that is Just Right


Annuities

Quick. When you think about making more money, what are the first two solutions that come to mind? Were they adding assets under management or adding new clients? Without a doubt, when it comes to increasing compensation, we always think we need to add. But that’s not necessarily the case.

According to The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann, the law of compensation doesn’t rely on more clients or more assets under management. Compensation is controlled by how well you serve the right number of people. And those two points remain constant. If you don’t have enough clients, you won’t make ends meet. And if you have too many clients, you won’t be able to provide the service they deserve.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve talked a lot about how to increase your value, and specifically what to focus on when it comes to changing how your clients measure that value. Today, I want to focus on how your value is increased by having the right-sized business. Just like Goldilocks, you want something that’s not too big and not too small.

And what is the right size, especially now, during a global pandemic? And if you are ready to serve new clients, how do you encourage them to meet with you, even virtually? Are they ready to focus on their finances and partner with someone new?

The good news is that many clients are getting more and more comfortable with digital technology. Clients who hadn’t ever had a zoom meeting are now familiar with meeting over the computer instead of in person. And by using the technology available, it is possible to have a face-to-face conversation, even if it’s not in person.

Providing value, however, remains the single most important task of any financial advisor. It’s up to you to calm their anxiety and help them feel confident about their financial future. With digital meetings becoming more comfortable for your clients, and more efficient for you, it is possible to provide value to more clients.

We’re all curious about what post-pandemic life in the United States will look like. Certainly, it will be different, and most likely technology will continue to play a large role in how we do business. And, companies and businesses will still have the same concerns they’ve always had, in addition to some new ones.

Specifically, pension risk transfers continue to be the largest risk to large and midsized companies’ balance sheets. Pension risk transfers affect shareholder value and can be the right topic to start a conversation with a CEO, CFO or HR director. If you can talk to them about taking pension risk off the balance sheet, you can also offer educational seminars to clients in the future. With their employer’s recommendation, you have a level of trust from a group of new prospects that might not otherwise be willing to listen to you. This could be a successful strategy for growing your business after the coronavirus crisis is over. Activity today is required to spur future growth.

By focusing on providing value to your clients and maintaining a high level of service, along with thinking strategically about how to reach new clients, you’ll be perfectly positioned to impact lives both now and in the future.

 

Transformational Tactic

Concentrate on two things that drive compensation. First, always give value. And second, increase the number of lives you touch.

When Showing Appreciation, Be Creative


Annuities

Standing out is hard.

In any business, it’s tough to create separation from the competition. Of course, you need to meet the minimum requirements for doing business in our industry. Those are the table stakes that everyone else is doing. Don’t stop there.

What makes you stick above others? How can you create separation for yourself?

Start by thinking about anywhere you’ve been a long-term customer. Are you still a customer? Or, over time, have you slowly gravitated away? Often, when a customer leaves for a competitor, the reason is the same. It’s because they feel underappreciated. If they think you aren’t grateful for their business, they are going to look for someone who is — someone who makes them feel special.

The takeaway is to make an extra effort. Make sure your clients feel truly appreciated. It’s easy to send an email to thank someone for their business. And it’s great to send a hand-written card, especially as it’s a lost art. But the reality is, we need to differentiate ourselves by being unique.

One of the most important aspects to consider when developing a personal relationship, is to stand out in your efforts to make your client feel appreciated.

Last week I talked about being empathetic toward your clients. Use that empathy to view your relationship from the client’s point of view. You aren’t going to stand out by making a call or sending a letter. You need to understand where your client is and what’s important to them. Then tie your appreciation gift to that person.

Today, it’s not enough just to say thank you. Make a memory with your client and concentrate on that memory when you show appreciation. And remember that appreciation isn’t just a one-time expression. If you don’t want to lose long-term clients, stay in touch and remind them how important they are to you. You’ll add value to your overall relationship and, in the process, strengthen your business.

 

Transformational Tactic

Do more than say thank you. Strengthen your relationship with your client by showing your appreciation in a more personal way.

Making Empathy Part of Your Value Proposition


Annuities

This blog post originally appeared on the High Performing Practice website. If you want to choose to improve your financial services practice, visit their blog for more ideas.


We’ve been talking about the five different aspects of changing the way our clients measure us.

In the past few weeks, I’ve discussed the need for excellence and making your process repeatable and consistent. Last week I focused on cutting through the noise and making sure you continue to work to the end goal. And today, I’m going to explore why empathy is a key element to success.


Difficult to Master

Although it’s easy to simplify the steps necessary to grow your business, it’s not always easy to achieve them. And empathy might be one of the most difficult of all to master. Let’s put it in perspective by looking at an example.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re talking to a prospect who you know you have the expertise to help. You’re an excellent fit to help them hit what they want to accomplish. But, at the end of the day, the client went with one of your competitors. Why? It’s possible they felt the other advisor was more empathetic.

We all want to believe that our primary goal is understanding our clients’ needs and providing solutions. And, while that is what we are in business to do, in reality, we often focus on ourselves and the value we provide. And focusing on our own value means we’re not putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes.

There are two different things that you need to be aware of when you’re trying to position yourself as the right advisor to shape your clients’ financial story. The first is empathy. The second is authority. And it is possible to use them both together to achieve the best result for our clients and for our business.  


Empathy Is Tough

In this industry, we’re good at making authoritative statements. We all have years of experience. We have credentials. We have assets under management. We have a team of people. We have proprietary technology. But even with all of that, it comes down to empathy.

And empathy is tough because what our clients are feeling changes daily. Think about what we were feeling Feb. 1 verses what we’re thinking now. Of course, in our current situation, the pandemic is the largest impetus for change. But it’s not the only factor. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced economic uncertainty and it won’t be the last.

And when we experience times like this, our clients’ needs and concerns change. We need to stay in tune with what they are feeling to be able to show them we are empathetic. It’s even harder if they don’t express their concerns. But taking the time to reach out and reassure can help them understand where they’re headed in the future.

By adding empathy to your value proposition, you reinforce your value to your clients. Everyone wants to work with someone who understands them. And that’s where you have a chance to stand out.

 

Transformational Tactic

Empathy is vital for success. Readjust your thinking to keep up with your clients changing needs and concerns through every step of their financial journey.



empathy

Staying Focused on the End Goal


Annuities

Whatever the case, with everything going on, it’s hard to stay focused on your path of success. But instead of getting caught up with distractions, it’s important to stay focused on what you CAN control. And one of the main things you have control of is your attention.

Louder Doesn’t Equal Smarter
I was reading recent posts from Seth Godin, and he made a great analogy about today’s news and the pandemic. Financially speaking, the topic of the day is market volatility. It’s being talked about so often it’s almost as if we handed the news stations a megaphone. But, as Seth Godin points out, just because a megaphone makes a lot of people louder, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smarter.

The true definition of success is keeping the long-term in view and concentrating on doing the little things today that are necessary to reach your long-term goals. All that shouting from the megaphone? Consider if it’s important or if it’s just a distraction.

Finding the Silver Lining
Although our situation in no way compares to the horrors of World War II, I want to share a story that spoke to me—and one that can remind us all to find the silver lining in even the most trying situations. I recently read the novel The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, in which the author shares her experiences as a prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Among other hardships, Corrie and the others in her barracks contracted fleas. It took a while to realize it, but those fleas actually protected the prisoners from the guards’ brutality and might even have saved their lives. If they had fleas, the guards avoided them. Corey survived the concentration camp.

In the face of Corrie’s struggles, the fleas seemed at first like the least of her worries. It was only later that she realized they were a positive. They were her silver lining.

When you consider all the distractions we are dealing with, think about what we can turn into a positive. Can we use the noise from the market volatility megaphone as an opportunity to reassure our clients? Can we leverage it as an opportunity to encourage them to focus on the long-term as well? Find your silver lining, and use it to reach your goals.

If you have aspects of your business plan that need attention, we’re here to help. We can take a look at strategies to build your business and make sure that you — and your clients — receive the attention you deserve.

Transformational Tactic

You don’t need a megaphone to focus your clients’ attention. You just need to keep the end goal in view.

Preparedness


Annuities

A lot of people come into our office or ask me at industry events how we’ve been able to grow our annuity business four times as fast as the industry. Several things come to mind, such as the willingness of ownership to invest in the business, the commitment to the business plan, and a push toward constant innovation. However, most people talk about how we have prepared. In my recent book, Free Throws for Financial Professionals, I talk a lot about my time as manager for the Indiana University basketball team in 1987, particularly Coach Knight’s preparation style for games.

Coach was hailed as a strategic genius on the court. His preparation didn’t go unnoticed: one sports pundit was quoted as saying, “Give Coach Knight a week to prepare and he is likely to win the game.”

I don’t disagree. But over the years, I’ve come to believe Coach’s success came down to practice and preparation rather than any particular gifts of genius. He was relentless in preparation. He knew his business – his team – better than anyone else. I would argue that he actually knew the tendencies of the other team better than their coach in some situations.

The student managers (myself included) kept statistics at every practice, starting with the first drills in October all the way to the national championship game. The stats were compiled every day for the coaches to see a summary of shooting percentages, assists, rebounds and turnovers. The coaches would view the practice footage to see which tactics were the most effective. In addition, we broke down the stats on the cuts that started the offensive sets. Coaches would ask why we were performing better with one set in particular over another. For the answer, they looked at the daily video tape. As the season progressed, the coaches had more and more data to rely on to make in-game decisions. They understood the tendencies, the strength and the success we had against multiple defensive set ups and plays. It wasn’t luck. It was being prepared.

Financial planners need to have the same sense of intensive preparation. We need to understand our metrics better than anyone else. We have to know – I mean really know – our target clients, how often they want to meet, the time commitment each client needs, and the areas where we are most likely going to succeed. If we don’t understand our business, we will be inefficient and ineffective for our clients. In other words, we will lose the game because we can’t make adjustments.

Winning Strategy: Preparedness wins over talent and price in any situation. Be a champion. Know your business and prepare for success.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at www.freethrowsforpros.com.  

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