Winning the Right Way

Winning the Right Way

Winning the Right Way

By Mike McGlothlin, EVP of Annuities


If you read much about the U.S. Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, you know many people are saying it’s unworkable. While I agree the rule may be overreaching and it will be difficult to meet all the disclosure requirements, I think it’s clear the effects of the rule are making a difference already. FINRA has fined an institution for creating conflicts and incentives to sell one product, and clients are asking prospective planners if they are a fiduciary.


Still, many advisors feel like cannot work as a fiduciary. I believe with the right focus, you can.


Defining Success

As a student manager at Indiana, I worked in one of the most competitive environments in college basketball. We didn't always win. In fact, my sophomore year was one of the worst in Indiana’s history under Coach Bob Knight. Two years later, we were ranked in the top 10 in many of the polls throughout the season, and we won the national title.  


Coach Knight eventually retired as the winningest coach in NCAA history with 902 wins. His teams won three NCAA titles, 1 NIT championship, and 11 Big Ten conference titles, and he won numerous Coach of the Year awards – those are the accolades most people remember him for. But, I think it’s important to recognize to more stats:

  • Coach Knight graduated 98 percent of his student-athletes who stepped foot on campus
  • He had ZERO violations during his four-decades-long coaching career


Success in sports is usually defined in wins and losses, awards, titles and rankings. But at Indiana, we were taught that the real win is how you play the game and how you improve your chances for success beyond basketball.


I find our charge as financial planners very similar. Our industry has to pay attention to how we handle clients, improve their chances for success and help them enjoy their retirement in the event of major longevity issues. We have to be more cognizant of the process we use with clients and how we plan. 


The DOL rule is meant to protect retirement investors, but it should really be about redefining our practices. The successful planner in a post-fiduciary world will have a process that:

  • Addresses the many risks of retirement
  • Makes interaction feel unique to the client
  • Promotes the sharing of information at lightning-fast response times. 


That is not unworkable with a growing, caring and thriving financial services business.


Winning Strategy: Take a page from a legendary coach. Focus on the process and not the results. Redefine how you interact with your clients and make their experience unique. You can win by staying within the rules and focusing on what's important.


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.”