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Are you working hard enough?

By ClientWise | May 5, 2010

As a preface to my thoughts today, I wanted to say a few things.

In the first place, I am assuming that many of the readers of this column work in the financial services industry, as financial advisors or otherwise. I happen to be the senior executive coach for ClientWise, an executive coaching firm that serves the financial advisory industry…and have been in financial services myself for 25+ years. No surprise, but many of my observations and ruminations reflect my own world view.

For those of you who aren’t in the financial services industry, we welcome your eyes to our prose, too. We certainly invite all comers to our musings…and presumably, you are reading this right now because of something that has caught your eye.

Whatever your background and interest, thank you and welcome!

With this prelude out of the way, I wanted to share a question that is of particular relevance to those of you who are financial advisors, or are in the business of marketing to prospective investor clients.

Are you working hard enough?

Here’s why I ask this.

I live in an upper-income zip code in Minneapolis, one block away from one of our city’s famous lakes. I’ve lived in this house for seven years. In thinking back over the past seven years, I can honestly say that I have never, ever received a phone solicitation (i.e. cold call) from a financial services representative. Not once. Moreover, I have probably received a total of 3-5 direct mail invitations, inviting me to some sort of financial seminar, over the same period.

7 years and 5 solicitations. That’s about 0.002 calls/contacts per day.

Thinking about this statistic, I wanted to see if my circumstance was an anomaly. Over the past month, I’ve taken an informal survey of 10-15 of my friends… attorneys, executives, entrepreneurs who live in “good” zip codes where there is presumed to be affluence. Same answer, i.e. they have rarely been contacted through any sort of solicitation and/or outreach by financial advisors.

What makes this observation all the more interesting is that I remember breaking into the financial services business during the 1980’s. During this time period, whenever I would introduce myself as a “stockbroker” to a stranger at a cocktail party or similar gathering …invariably I’d get a very audible groan as a response, and a complaint about the number of times each day people were being “hit” upon by random financial salespeople. My reaction would be to sympathetically nod my head and fake some sort of empathy for their situation…knowing full well that I was one of the perpetrators myself. Each day I would call lists of 50-100 investors out-of-the-blue. No big deal. That’s just what you did back then.

OK, I absolutely am not suggesting that we dust off our boots and return to being cold-calling cowboys (and cowgirls.) Generally speaking, cold-calling is a pretty ineffective way for financial advisors to connect with affluent investors.

However, with approximately 634,660 registered financial advisors in this country…you’d think I’d hear from 1 or 2 of you.

Rather than ask, “Are you working hard enough?” perhaps the more appropriate coaching question should be, “Are you working hard at finding new ways to connect with prospects?”

  • What could you be doing more often in order to reach out to prospective clients?
  • What tasks could you delegate to others that would free up more of your time to solicit new business?
  • What strategies could you use to effectively “cold call” in today’s environment?
  • How could you utilize the newest technologies, such as webinars and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, to communicate to a wider audience?
  • What is your unique value proposition that distinguishes yourself from your competitors?
  • Rather than direct cold calling, try networking in new and different ways that you haven’t tried before—you may even have some fun in the process. Take a cooking class. Volunteer on a local fundraising project. Participate in a Walkathon. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Attend gallery openings.

The good news is that these days the number of ways you can “cold call” is only limited by your creativity and your commitment to keep working at it.


Topics: Selling

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