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Business Breakthroughs: Part 2

More Tales From The IFP

Following on from last week’s blog.

What Has Been The Biggest Business Breakthrough In Your Career?

Part 2

5. “Joining the IFP

Rebecca Taylor of Dunham Financial Services Ltd, and the current IFP President, said that joining the IFP helped her learn the skills necessary to engage more deeply with clients and to structure the whole process of client engagement so it was repeatable and tangible.

This is one of the biggest breakthroughs for most advisers at some point in their career, especially if they are relatively new (less than 5 years experience). When you start your career most of the industry focus is on ever greater technical knowledge (as it has been throughout the whole RDR process).

To be a great adviser you also need to know how to hold your tongue on technical issues, and to use strong questioning technique and some tangible collateral to explain the broader proposition to your clients. As Becky said: “the IFP provides a great learning environment for picking up these essential skills from other advisers committed to financial planning.”

 6. “Increasing lead flow.”

Michael Smith from Chamberlyns Financial Planning and David Crozier from Navigator Financial Planning both talked about generating greater lead flow, albeit in different ways. This is a big issue for many good quality firms, that are effectively the best kept secret in their local area.

I’ve worked closely with Michael and his business partner Geoff Husaundee, and their focus this year has been on getting the simple stuff right. They have a great proposition with cashflow modelling and a sound investment philosophy at the core. However, they’ve also made sure their profiles with online search engines like Unbiased and Vouched For promote them in the right way. They’ve had improved lead flow as a result, and three or four leads have been in the £500,000 to £1.5M range.

Geoff has also been ‘working’ the professional connections more deliberately this year, and they recently ran a client seminar that brought together around 50 clients and some key professional connections. These types of events provide for increased client referral opportunities.

David Crozier has been active in the professional connections area for years, and has become even more proactive in the last year or two by running monthly seminars to solicitors.  The big take away from David is that the consistency of his and his team’s efforts was the breakthrough moment. As David said: “there was definitely a lead up period before they gained traction, but now that the leads are flowing there is less effort required to keep that flow.”

This is the key lesson for everyone trying to market themselves more effectively; do it well and do it consistently. If that seems impossible then get some external marketing support to allow you to do it.

7. “Delegating more.”

Andrew Elson from Beaufort Financial Planning talked about the benefit of delegating, and growing his team. I know Andrew works with Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach programme and is keenly aware of focusing on his unique ability.

If you find yourself too busy and/or not enjoying your work anymore, then a good first step is to delegate some of the less fun jobs. We covered this in depth in an earlier blog.

8. “Clarity of business purpose.”

Stephen Jones from Cooper Parry said that having clarity of his business purpose and knowing who they wanted to act for was key. For anyone that doesn’t know, Cooper Parry took some very bold action about 4-5 years ago and sold off most of their legacy clients to start again, with a clear focus on high end financial planning. Their results this year are spectacular, and are testament to Stephen’s vision and the hard work of everyone in the Copper Parry team.

It’s easy for all of us to lose focus and just get into the habit of doing ‘stuff’ on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s important to just stop and ask yourself the question:

If you don’t know the answer, or are unsure, then just put down whatever you are doing and take some time out to find your clarity of purpose. Here are a few signs that things are not in good order and that some reflective time might be of value:

  1. You work too many hours each week (more than 40).

  2. You don’t take enough time off each year (at least 6-8 weeks).

  3. You spend more than 30 minutes a day dealing with email.

  4. You have too many clients (an adviser can service between 50-150 clients effectively).

  5. Work you pass on to staff comes bouncing right back to you (and they go home at 5pm while you finish it off after hours or on weekends).

  6. There is some pressure at home because you are not available for family time (and when you are available your partner says your head is elsewhere).

  7. You still have a few clients that you don’t like (just sack them and be done with it).

  8. You feel like you’re on the hamster wheel and keep telling yourself ‘If I can just get on top of this stuff, then I’ll take some time out’ (which never works).

9. “Humility.”

Steve Martin from Smart Financial Planning ends the video with some self-deprecating comments, but don’t believe him for second. What makes Steve’s business so great is that he is always asking himself how they can do it better. In a phone call I had with him recently, he related a story to me of how they had truly changed one client’s life from depression (working in a job she no longer enjoyed) to happiness and creativity starting her own business, with the help of Steve and his team.

That’s what great advisers do on a regular basis, make dramatic changes in people’s lives using their technical knowledge and life experience. You can’t do it by conducting investment focused annual review meetings. You have to go deeper, by taking the time and having the skills to help people uncover their most important life goals.

To continually improve yourself requires a great deal of humility, and a willingness to keep asking yourself:

Sometimes the answers can be surprisingly simple, but difficult to accept and act on, such as “take more time off.”

Here are a few books that can help you on your quest for greater knowledge (most I’ve read, some I haven’t but have been recommended to me).

By Brett Davidson Google

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