A constraint is often seen as a limitation. However, true innovators see a constraint as an opportunity for improvement and creativity. It’s an opportunity to not only overcome obstacles, but also to improve upon the processes and solutions we use when problems arise.
Constraints come in many forms. In the financial services industry, our constraints include:
Regardless of your perceived limitations, you have the opportunity to produce creative solutions for your clients and the industry.
Mario is an iconic video game character, but the story of his creation isn’t as well known. Have you ever wondered why Mario wears his hat, gloves, overalls and huge mustache? All of those features helped his developers overcome constraints.
They didn’t have enough pixels to make Mario’s hair flop or bounce as he moved through the game, so they gave him a hat. They also didn’t have enough time or resources to design a mouth, so they gave him a bushy mustache. Finally, limited ability prevented them from creating a shirt, buttons or belt buckle, so – you guessed it – they gave Mario overalls.
As you can see, great successes can emerge from great constraints. As increasing regulations, changing interest rates or volatile markets seem to place undue constraints on your business, use them as an opportunity to separate yourself from the competition, be creative and provide a unique solution for your clients.
Use constraints as an opportunity to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, make unique solutions and improve processes.
Mike McGlothlin is the Executive Vice President of Annuities at Ash Brokerage. His strength is helping advisors become more efficient and effective in their businesses. He and his team provide income-planning solutions focused on longevity and tax efficiency, and they also assist advisors with entering defined-benefit termination planning and structured settlement markets.
Some people claim the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) conflict of interest rule is ruining the retirement industry. But, have you ever thought that maybe the industry is ruining retirement?
According to a 2015 article from U.S. News and World Report, Americans aren’t saving enough. Here are the average retirement account balances at the end of each age bracket:
20s – $12,537
30s – $33,784
40s – $68,683
50s – $122,957
60s – $212,812
While the DOL implementation and other market shifts certainly affect retirement trends, at the end of the day, Americans simply aren’t prepared for retirement. Imagine having $212,000 set aside for retirement with no further chance to earn income. And, it must last you the rest of your life.
In reality, the retirement industry may have created this problem. For the past two decades, I’ve been told to focus on building a renewable income stream for myself. But, in order to do that in a productive business model, most planners must move up market and set minimum asset levels to engage new clients. The problem is millions of Americans have failed to work with a financial professional early in their career to develop a well-allocated, systematic savings plan. Now, they are suffering the consequences.
The DOL is attempting to level the playing field, but collateral effects include commoditization of our business. How can you make your business stand out from the rest and make a difference in your clients’ lives before the industry continues to make the same mistakes?
Seize the opportunity to support the underserved middle class in America. Moreover, discover market niches that boost productivity for you and your business as you navigate the post-DOL world.
As a child or a young professional, I never dreamed of being a writer. I simply didn’t have the patience to stare at a blank page, waiting for the right words to come to mind. Over time, I’ve learned to rely on my expertise and passion for the subject to make it easier to begin the writing process. But to get to this point, I had to take the first step.
When I initially began writing blogs, they were inconsistent and infrequent. Gradually, as I changed my habits and made time to write blogs regularly, themes began to emerge and a clear niche evolved.
By practicing the habit of writing, I have developed a love for it. So much so, in fact, the editorial team probably pulls out their hair at times due to the mass quantity of content I throw at them. This passion for writing did not emerge naturally, however. I had to start with the basics and restructure my time to accommodate for this new hobby.
How I got out of my comfort zone:
When the Ash Brokerage creative staff approached me about compiling the blogs into a book, it took me by surprise. I never imagined myself as a published author. It took some time to get used to the idea, but, in the end, I’m glad decided to step outside of my comfort zone. By taking the first step and forming a new habit, I now have a book sold on Amazon that hopefully gives advisors like you motivation, new ideas, and helpful strategies to better serve your clients.
Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy the experience of pushing your limits and challenging your capabilities. New habits can improve your personal and business life immensely. Take the first steps: develop the right mindset, set aside time, and execute.
In his daily devotional, “The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge,” former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy shared his strategy for selecting players in an NFL draft. As you may know, a team’s draft pick can make or break a franchise because of the amount of time and money invested in each player.
During the draft process, Dungy evaluates the list of potential picks and writes DNDC (“Do Not Draft because of Character”) next to the names of people with character flaws. This may seem harsh, but he understands the costly, long-term effects of having a player with poor character on his team.
Too often, teams seek short-term results while ignoring long-term problems. In order to avoid this pitfall, you should implement Dungy’s stringent criteria when drafting your customer base. Similarly, your customers should use the same criteria when choosing you as their financial planning professional.
Adjusting to the new fiduciary standards may seem difficult, but you can mitigate risks – for your clients and your business – by following Coach Dungy’s simple rule: Do Not Draft because of Character.
Align the vison of the client, yourself, and your staff in the retirement planning process. If you don’t feel the client shares your long-term vision for their future, do not engage with them. Invest your time in better-suited clients and strategies to create your own winning team.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.