I recently spent a couple of beautiful days in Washington, D.C. Although many people were on fall break visiting our nation’s capital, I was not. My days were spent preparing for, and talking to, members of the Department of Labor. I found the experience intriguing, interesting and awkward—all rolled into one. But, significant change requires all those factors.
As financial professionals, we must always be intrigued by our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients, even if we believe we are already providing that level of care. No matter what specialty your financial services practice focuses on, you have to think about all the possible ways of improving a client’s position. This is exactly why the department allowed us to come in and discuss our concerns. They were as intrigued as we were about the opportunity to improve the distribution of financial advice. I believe that level of intrigue is good for our industry.
Next, in order to improve, you must have an interest in change—far more than simple intrigue. We must have a sincere interest in changing how the industry provides better options and service to our clients. The department displayed a genuine interest in improving and understanding the market for annuities and life insurance. With a genuine interest in improving, we typically move to the awkward stage—you feel you need to change your behavior.
The new fiduciary rule requires significant changes of behaviors at every level of our industry, perhaps even a change in behavior from the department, as well. Regardless, when you change the way you do things, there is a feeling of awkwardness. However, there is always a path to change through understanding and repetition. If you were intrigued and interested in getting better, you will do the uncomfortable things until they become comfortable. In the end, you will have to go through all the stages in order to improve.
Find something that intrigues you about your business. Get interested in why the process works the way it does. Get uncomfortable with a new process or product.
About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”
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