Does your attitude matter?
What impact does your state of mind have on your clients and your business?
Is it important for an advisor to stay upbeat, enthusiastic and positive? And if so, how the hell do you do it?
I think it’s fair to say that we are living in somewhat frightening and turbulent times. The seemingly constant barrage of bad news can feel overwhelming. You’ve got the big picture stuff like Islamic terror, climate change, and mass shootings. Then you have the business specific absurdities like DOL.
These would be plenty to deal with alone, but throw an election year on top and you’ve got some real fun. The battle shaping up is like Luke vs. Vader, the Alliance vs. the Horde, The Federation vs. the Borg, Harry Potter vs. Voldemort. (Any other nerdy references you’d like?)
It’s possible, that over the next few months, the tone of our national conversation will turn so sour and rancorous that we may find ourselves wondering if we’re seeing the end of America as we know it. Of course, we’re not…but I promise you it’s making the barbarians in the Middle East, China, Russia and North Korea joyful to see us beat ourselves up like we’re going to do.
So how can you stay positive and enthusiastic when everything around you is so damn negative? And should you even try? Is the energy expenditure worth the effort?
I believe that you do need some form of positive attitude to be successful and effective as a financial advisor. I’m not saying you should be an irrational cheerleader always upbeat and happy. That kind of optimism often comes across as fake or forced.
I knew a guy who was like that. He always had a smile on his face or some cheery thing to say. No matter what was going on around him he seemed to always find a happy thought or positive spin.
I hated him!
It just felt so unnatural and inhuman. Like he was some kind of caffeinated robot disconnected from reality. I’m sure some people liked it but to me it actually made him look kid of dumb…like a Forrest Gumpy goofball. So that’s not what I’m talking about.
I prefer a realistic outlook with a positive tilt. If you think of your mental energy in asset allocation terms, I generally like to be about 35% in the reality of problems and challenges but 65% in the potential opportunity and solutions.
Obviously, there are always positive things happening around us and focusing on them helps. But whenever I find myself sinking too deep into the abyss, I grab a little history to pull me out of the quicksand.
Nothing we are experiencing today (with one exception) is totally new. And none of it comes remotely close to the darkest days we’ve seen. Everyone thinks that their time is the most significant or influential, and that’s natural, but it’s not accurate. We are living today in blissful tranquility and opulence compared to any other period in human history.
I don’t say this to downplay the importance or human toll of current events…just to put them in perspective.
You want scary and violent? We could go back to Genghis Kahn, (ISIS is already there) but let’s keep it relatively recent. Read anything about World War One. Philip Gibb’s famous book, “Now It Can Be Told” will make your knees buckle.
We rightly fear Zika virus…but let’s remember Polio, AIDS or 50-100 million deaths in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19? Folks, a hundred years ago it killed 3 percent of the world’s population!
If you decry presidential election shenanigans…Hayes and Tilden in 1876 make Trump and Hillary look like a middle school student council race. Or for a more musical lesson in political backbiting, listen to the Hamilton CD (which is fantastic, btw.) Thomas Jefferson and some other big names don’t fare so well. But I’m proud to have gone to Lafayette College. The Marquis was a real hero.
I don’t remind you of these dark events to depress you. Quite the opposite. When you run through the list of present day fears you’ll see it’s all happened before and been exponentially worse in most cases. Yet we’ve survived every crisis and we will come through these as well.
Knowledge can create inside you a sense of calm and repose that fosters a positive outlook in the face of daily stress and bad news. Importantly, it gives clients a feeling that you are in control. You are the Captain of their ship and they need to believe that you’ve seen a few storms. Today’s squall is a mere breeze for you. Conversely if you’re shaken by current events, they get worried. When you feel fear…they feel terror. The first rule in hand-holding, (which is a big part of our job) is you need to have a hand to hold! If your hands are covering your own eyes…they’re screwed!
The powerful feeling of confidence that you get from studying history runs into one big obstacle today…the media.
This is a new force facing mankind. Never before have we had such a persistent, penetrative volume of instant news and information. There are so many voices today and it’s so hard to turn them off that we can be easily carried away by the flood.
Many advisors believe they need to be connected to the media…and this is a huge mistake. I do a lot of coaching and one of the biggest challenges I face when working with advisors is confronting the amount of time each day they spend staring at the TV or monitoring the media.
I did some work recently with a NYC wirehouse team and I visited their office for a day just to see what was going on. The team was successful but they were having some strange problems that seemed to be mostly communication related. So I did a basic time & motion study on the team leaders. They spent over half the day watching CNBC!
They were glued to the screen, listening, commenting, reacting to everything they heard or saw. When a junior advisor came in to ask an important question…they shushed him up to hear some portfolio manager touting his favorite stocks. He walked out with no answer and with the lesson that you don’t disturb the bosses during the day.
At the end of the day we all gathered for a meeting where I was to present some of my findings. I started by taking a razor knife and cutting the video cable behind the senior partner’s TV.
They were shocked and didn’t know how to react. But it was crystal clear to me that their problem started with the inaccessibility of their leaders. The guy eventually reconnected his TV so it wasn’t a total transformation, but we built some new commitments and started a new habit pattern that helped them quite a bit.
To stay positive, start by getting your head out of the media vortex. It’s a bottomless pit that will suck you in deeper every day. And it will NEVER be good news. Hell, the media mantra for decades has been “If it bleeds, it leads!” Business-wise you will never make a dime from it. I know that cutting the cable is easier said than done but it will be a good first step toward maintaining some energy balance in your life.
If you have a TV in your lobby for clients to view, turn off CNBC and loop a DVD of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Best of Johnny Carson or one of the greatest sitcoms, Taxi. Not Taxi Driver…just Taxi with Judd Hirsch. (If you’re too young to know these shows, watch them yourself. )
If a client asks, “Why aren’t you watching CNBC?” Answer, “I’m a financial professional. I don’t watch the news…I MAKE the news!”
Aye aye, Captain. Damn straight!
Cut yourself off from people who drain your enthusiasm. These might be clients, colleagues, friends, or even extended family members.
I love my mother-in-law and I know this is cliche, but she’s like a dark cloud of negative energy. (Fortunately she doesn’t have a computer!) So when she comes over I give her a big hug, tell her a joke, and run quickly from the room!
Clients can be harder to disconnect from because you want to be there for them. So if you can’t cut them off, time block them. Set a clock and when the alarm rings shift the tone of the conversation. “Dave, I love you, but I have a meeting in one minute. Tell me the best thing that happened to you yesterday. You’ve got 30 seconds and then I’ve gotta’ go!” Try to get them focused on something positive before you hang up. But DO hang up!
Being positive takes energy but it pays dividends professionally and personally.
First, successful, intelligent investors don’t want to work with Eeyore. If you’re my advisor and every time we talk you depress and confuse me what the hell do I need you for? I’m already depressed and confused. I need you to be a bright light, a beacon of hope on a dark horizon. I want to feel that you’re energized and passionate about what you do and how you’re working to get me to my goals. I want to see you as a reflection of myself…or the better parts of myself.
Personally, a positive attitude can help you live healthier, stronger and longer. That’s a proven scientific fact. Not to mention the impact it can have on everyone around you. You become someone who inspires and lifts up other people. Taken to a higher level, you become a person who can truly help others.
So start thinking happy thoughts. Look for reasons to be thankful, upbeat and energized. Try to enjoy more of each day and focus on the good stuff happening all around us. Limit your exposure to toxic radiation and counter-punch the news with laughter, joy and fun. I’d say get to the gym and workout, but coming from me that’s strange advice.
Actually, I did a push-up this morning and I do feel better about myself. Felt the burn…didn’t want to over-train, so I stopped at one. Tomorrow…watch out baby!
I recently returned from speaking at a big industry conference and had a chance to listen to several of the other speakers. Usually I learn a few things and it’s a very enjoyable experience.
This time was different.
One of the speakers (let’s call him Clown Boy) was a supposed expert on referrals…a subject I know a little about having written a best-selling book and trained thousands of advisors on it. It’s also a topic that has frustrated the vast (and when I say vast I’m talking about 90%) of financial professionals over the years. So I was eager to see if this guy had any new ideas.
Actually I was hoping for something new…something creative and bold that advisors could feel good about using.
What I heard was a combination of ancient sales crap and a fairly violent assertion that most advisors are lazy pieces of whale blubber for not being more aggressive when asking for referrals.
Finally I had to leave the room. I was physically sick.
As I splashed water in my face and starred into the bathroom mirror I found myself wondering in some despair if our profession is forever going to be stuck in this old-school, heavy-handed, arm-twisting mentality. Are we really just one evolutionary notch above used car salesmen. To hear this guy tell it, we are mere product pitchers who only need to “Get them to sign on the line which is dotted!”
If he’s right, then everything I try to teach has no value. And if we ARE just salespeople, that means I’m the delusional one! I want to believe we’re better because it fits my own world view and validates my reason for being.
I have some evidence for my delusion. People come up to me after my referral training program with joy on their faces and say things like, “This is the first time anyone has told us the truth about referrals!” or “This is the only referral strategy that I will ever use.”
These are wondrous and gratifying moments for me. But maybe the same thing happens to Clown Boy! Hey someone thought his stuff was good or they wouldn’t have paid him to come speak. Some senior manager must have resonated with his “beat them up until they submit” referral approach.
I honestly don’t know who’s right. The only thing I can do is stick to my approach and let you decide which is better. If you are comfortable going to your best clients and saying things like: “I need your help to grow my business.” “I get paid two ways!” “On this sheet of paper, I’d like you to list the five wealthiest people you know. We’re going to call them together!” Or the latest approach I call The Jedi Mind Trick…“I’m not asking for a referral Bob…only an INTRODUCTION!” (“These are not the droids you’re looking for.”)
If you honestly feel that these strategies work with today’s clients and you’re okay using them…then I’m wrong! We ARE mere salespeople. We SHOULD be pitching products and a much more aggressive style is what we need.
But if these phrases make you cringe — if you have any sense that these old ideas simply do not work with modern clients — if you have any feeling that a trusted advisor would never want to make a client feel so abused…then you have to learn a new way!
This book will change your entire referral world. It contains a set of strategies that will make you look and feel like a true winner when you use them. It will take all the fear of referrals away from a top client or a center of influence like a CPA or attorney.
For the next 30 days…you can get it for half price! Use the coupon code “Aces” on my website.
I know you can afford the full $20 so it’s not about the money. It’s about ACTION! If you read this book and apply these strategies, you’re basically done with marketing! You may never have to prospect for new clients again. You might be able to activate a powerful referral engine from your client base that puts you in front of the exact kind of people you need to meet and who would benefit from your wisdom and service.
And the more you succeed, the fewer product pitcher salespeople will be left in this business. We can accelerate the evolutionary process by being better than they are!
Alternatively, if you can get yourself to one of our Referral programs, you will learn these strategies live! The best way to do that is to contact your local Jackson wholesaler and let them know you want to come to a training program. They are my biggest sponsor these days and they do a ton of these meetings all over the country.
If you would rather work with Clown Boy…I’m sure you can find him as well. He’s not a bad guy and I suppose I shouldn’t call him Clown Boy. It’s a nicer name than I thought of at the meeting, but he still might be the smart one.
Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so!”
In my heart…I know we are better.
I know we need new strategies to grow and to help people in a much more complex world.
I know the future or our profession transcends the old sales mentality.
But I could be wrong.
I could be Clown Boy!
I never pitch products in my training programs or keynotes. It’s a rule I’ve lived by for decades because I believe that advanced skills are product neutral. It’s up to each advisor to decide what’s best for the client.
But there is a confluence of forces right now that is causing me to bend that rule a bit.
I think 2016 could be the Year of the Annuity!
If you’ve never done one before, it’s time to take a hard look at them. And if you already have been using them…you might want to double your efforts for the rest of the year.
Have you seen these markets lately? What further proof do you need that a significant portion of retirement savings should be in something guaranteed? If today’s volatility doesn’t make you think twice, then you simply do not understand retirement reality. And despite all the shakes we’ve had so far this year, it’s possible that we’ve only seen the start of the economic storm.
Look, I’m far from a “gloom and doomer,” but there are too many indicators of trouble to ignore any longer. Retail investors are vulnerable to what happens in the markets, but we have virtually no control. The massive movements that take place every day are being driven by forces we can’t even identify let alone understand. It sometimes feels that we are the forgotten flotsam on a churning ocean of uncertainty. We have no choice but to hang on and ride out the stormy sea.
I also believe the so-called “professionals” are equally unnerved by these bizarre and extreme swings. Having been a senior executive at a mutual fund family for a decade I know these folks have no choice except to keep hawking their portfolios and try to ride the waves as best they can or else they go out of business. Even when they see trouble, they have to stick to their discipline or they undermine people’s confidence in their management ability. It’s like the quarterback who sees the blitzing linebacker but has to stand in the pocket and take a vicious hit. Except they’re doing it with your client’s money!
The truth is that no one is in control of the markets anymore. Not the pros, certainly not the individual investor. And if you want to say the hedge funds are running things, now you’re really scaring me. Allowing for a few exceptions, this is a group that holds huge short positions in morality and ethics.
An annuity puts a portion of your client’s money into the hands of very large, very solvent and historically conservative companies who are much more tightly controlled than any bank. There may be no better way to stabilize a piece of the client’s retirement income. Take some risk off the table while you still have time!
We’ve all heard that the Department of Labor is pushing a new rule that will affect how annuities are sold in retirement plans. But a couple of things about that.
First, this rule only affects with qualified plans. It doesn’t deal with annuities for assets outside of IRAs or other retirement plans…which is one of the biggest uses of the program.
Second, the rule has no impact on the innate value of annuities in the client’s portfolio. It only changes the way we will be able to provide advice and get paid. It still has several unresolved gaps and exemptions at this point but most experts believe we will be able to survive it without too much headache.
Every insurance company and broker/dealer is working on plans to operate effectively in this new environment. So any pain you might feel will be short-lived. But the peace-of-mind you’ve given the client will last forever.
Please do not fail to recommend annuities this year simply because next year’s compensation structure is in doubt. Do it because it’s the right thing for the client. I promise you we will figure this out!
Third, nothing will happen until 2017. Even if the rule went into effect tomorrow…you won’t have to change anything this year. And there’s a probability the whole ballgame may change after November anyway. The Presidential candidates seem to all have opinions about our industry so no one knows with any certainty what rules will affect our profession going forward.
Many clients will be paying taxes this year on non-qualified mutual funds that declared capital gains last year. But imagine about how angry it will make them to write a check to the IRS after they’ve lost 15% to start this year! That tax bill is going to be a brutal one-two punch that leaves them reeling in frustration.
By placing the client’s tax-inefficient assets into an annuity you can mitigate, defer or eliminate this pain. This “tax-alpha” can add up to a nice chunk of change and it shows the client that you’re thinking creatively on their behalf.
No they’re not! This is a tired old song that doesn’t play anymore. Sure they might have riders with a bit of insurance language that can befuddle some people. But that’s why they need you.
Sit down with a great annuity wholesaler and in a half-hour they can teach you nearly everything you need to know about this product to position it effectively. You have to raise your game to be effective here, but annuities are not rocket science. They’re common sense and a little innovation that solves some major life problems.
And as for expenses, the benefits of an annuity are extraordinary and cannot be duplicated by you or the client at the same cost.
Even if you had the expertise, you could never create a plan with the same protections and guarantees. That’s called “strength in numbers” and it’s only available from an insurance company.
Wrong again Poindexter! Modern annuities have as many or even more options than some of the most robust investment platforms in the industry. Then there’s a whole new category of “investment-only variable annuities” that are essentially managed money with tax deferral!
You have the freedom to do whatever you think best for the client. And the costs of these programs are shockingly low. I’m telling you it’s a new world out here. You need to get up to speed!
Millions of investors are worried right now and with good reason. This is not a stock market prediction…it’s an emotional awareness of the client’s needs. While I may be personally certain that we are not collapsing into some extended depression, I would still want to protect my clients from fear and stress.
An annuity in some form can provide invaluable guarantees and income stability in their portfolio.
There’s an old Chinese proverb:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!”
Talk with your clients about an annuity today. Stop staring at the screen, worrying about DOL and get moving. Rise above the noise and confusion and grab some annuity protection. Securing even a small piece of the portfolio is better than sitting around fully exposed to danger and anxiety.
Folks are scared and they need you more than ever. Be brave! Leap into that stormy sea and save some lives. You will be well rewarded for your courage!
You gotta’ love The Man Clam! And he’s wearing a suit and tie no less. Such a natty mollusk!
Listen…we are living through a scary B movie right now. The stock market has just finished its worst start to any year in history and people are engulfed by a massive blob of uncertainty!
The fact is that you should be doing cartwheels!
This is an ideal time to boost your prospecting activity and reach out to new clients. There is a confluence of forces right now that make clients more willing to listen to a new advisor than at any time in the past decade.
And yes that includes 2008 because people were so clouded by anger that new relationships were toxic from the start.
Today’s horror movie includes client uncertainty, massive advisor lethargy and lack of modern marketing skills, media sponsored confusion, looming retirement, and rising interest rates. Add to all that the general negative tone of an election year and you have a blockbuster Hollywood script for jumping ship.
The genuine fear in the minds of investors right now has many thinking that whatever they’re doing with their money is not the right thing. And that makes them willing to listen to a calm, clear, reassuring voice. Or ANY voice…since far too many advisors are not communicating effectively with their clients.
This is by far the single biggest question I’ve been getting for over thirty years. I do have an answer, and you’re going to love it.
You prospect from PASSION!
The reality is that every prospecting technique will work if you truly love it and do it well. The trick is to find a set of activities that you actually enjoy doing and do them…a lot. Do them until you get really good at them.
It doesn’t matter what those activities are because every advisor is going to be slightly different and there are a thousand ways to succeed. The list runs the gamut from simple direct mail to complex trade shows and event marketing. Some strategies are free or cheap as dirt…others will cost you $40,000 a month. The key is that you must enjoy them because if prospecting causes you pain or anxiety you’re not going to stick with it long enough to get good.
And anyone who tells you that you must suffer pain to grow either really doesn’t care about your success or is saying, “I don’t know what to tell you!” So they repeat the ancient slogans of the past sales business…The Willy Loman School of Beating Your Head Against a Wall Until You Die!
“A hundred years or so from now I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He’ll recommend those three words even over, ‘I love you.'”
(A FREE Referral book to the first ten people who can identify that quote!)
I have an entire range of tools designed to help advisors grow their business. These include books, audio CDs, DVDs and workbooks. Some cost money and some are free. If you order anything in the next 48 hours, use the coupon code “Aces” and you’ll save a ton of money.
But here are some free tools you now that might get you started. You can download them right from the Resource Vault on the website.
The Prospecting Assessment. This is a simple questionnaire that will help us identify the activities that you’re likely to enjoy and the ones that you should totally ignore. Share it with your manager, coach or talk with me about it. It’s a great starting point.
The Cold Call Counterpunches & Do/Don’t Checklist I use the phone sparingly as a marketing tool but I know that many advisors are still encouraged to smile and dial. This will help you make calling a more effective tool.
The Rule of 2 is a good general guide for setting some consistent marketing activity goals. You can modify it for your own style.
The Personal Profile Interview is one of the best marketing/branding tools I’ve ever created. It will dramatically boost your stature in the minds of prospects and differentiate you from a mass of “plain vanilla” advisors.
The Social Prospecting Script is designed to help you approach your closest personal friends, neighbors, golf-buddies, board colleagues, etc. and bring up the idea of doing business without looking salesy. It allows you to penetrate your inner circle and look like a hero instead of pushing too hard for their business….very powerful.
If you really want to grow a modern way, you need to attend my training program “Passion Prospecting: New Clients – New Assets – New Power!” In this full or half-day session, I teach advisors specifically how to find those modern marketing activities that are most likely to generate new relationships and create some real enjoyment in the process. It’s a fantastic session that we can do right in your office. It’s not cheap but it’s worth every cent.
Tell your manager or better yet, grab a couple of good wholesalers and tell them you want something more than a product pitch. The best ones will be happy to sponsor a session locally. I work with most mutual fund and annuity companies and they are always looking for a way to add value. If you can pull together a group of twenty five advisors, I might even be able to find a sponsor for you. So let me know.
Right now you have a rare window of opportunity to grow your business. It will take a little effort but people will pay attention. The amazing part is that you don’t even need a particularly unique or exciting message. Even something as simple as a “second opinion” call will pay off.
“Mr. Prospect, I know you have an advisor. But there’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the markets right now. There has never been a more important time to have a fresh set of eyes look at your portfolio. Best case is that I can confirm you’re on track and doing just fine. But I might be able to identify some potential danger spots that your current advisor simply can’t see. It can’t hurt to have my team take a look. You don’t want to just keep plowing through this stormy sea without taking a compass reading. It’s just too tricky out here right now.”
For a little extra motivation you could warn him about the hedge-fund manager who turned into a terrifying, giant, blood-sucking leach.
Ah, nevermind…that’s redundant!
Been there…done that…got the tee shirt…posted it on Facebook!
Panic hits fast in today’s markets. It starts by gnawing away at your belief system.
Are we really just correcting or is this The Big One?
Is China collapsing under the weight of decades of hype? Or are there really a billion people who yearn for a better life, cleaner air and a couple of kids?
Did North Korea really detonate an H-bomb…or is this still a sad little place with a psychotic leadership structure that could be eliminated in about 45 minutes by a single U.S. carrier group?
Advisors in today’s profession will face many events and crises that seem to threaten our very way of life. Whatever you choose to believe is up to you. I’m not making a prediction either way. I know what I believe but you have to find your own path and build your own confidence from experience.
Regardless…you can’t appear scared! We don’t have the luxury of hiding from our clients. This is not the time for duck and cover. It’s the time for injecting some steel in your voice and stepping up. I’d say “man up” but we are in the Golden Age of Women and female financial professionals are transforming our entire industry…so that’s not appropriate anymore.
Make sure your clients know this isn’t your first storm and that you are calmly in command at the helm of the ship. No one wants their Captain cowering like a frightened puppy.
Turn off the media torrent of noise and fear. Relax and think about the big picture and ask yourself some critical questions.
What can I do now to strengthen my best client relationships and reaffirm my value as a trusted professional?
How can I use confusion and uncertainty to add to core investment positions at great prices?
How can I reach out to new clients whose advisors are hiding from them?
What will I learn from these events that I can use to make myself a better professional?
Who can I count on to give me solid wisdom and advice and who should I never listen to again?
So stay calm, have some fun and enjoy the End of Days. And forgive me if I seem less concerned than you think is warranted.
I just refuse to panic anymore.
It’s never once been profitable.