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I was recently asked to expound my thoughts on where “Wealth Management” needs to change in order to survive and thrive in this brave new world of ours.

My answer was immediate. Stop living in the past, take the blinkers off and start looking outside of our profession, business, industry – whatever you want to call it – and start learning from others. Eyebrows were raised, but blind to the reaction I ploughed on: “The problem,” I said, “is that change needs to come from the top and yet…” (here a masterstroke – I cleverly quoted Gary Hamel writing in the Harvard Business Review) “…where are the people with the greatest reverence for industry dogma? At the top! The bottleneck is at the top of the bottle!”

As this was a group of senior people, the eyebrows were now in danger of merging with the (receding) hairlines, they were raised so far. You can imagine the near apoplexy that  arose when I dropped the spade and continued to dig with the JCB, this time quoting Tom Peters:

“Organisations exist to serve. Period. Leaders LIVE to serve. Period.”

You could hear the mental cogs whirring…what about the shareholders? What about profits? Ah, you poor unfortunates! You are approaching things from the wrong end.

They say that if looks could kill…..but they can’t. The fact that I am writing this blog is evidence of my survival – unscathed, I am pleased to report. In any case, some enlightened members of the audience did ask questions afterwards.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make? Well, recently I was introduced (in a modern tech way) to one Jan Gunnarsson. Now this is someone I would dearly like to meet face to face for an opportunity to listen to him and ask questions of him. Jan is a hospitality industry veteran but that is not important, in line with my ‘learn from others’ philosophy.

Jan has written a book (with Ollie Blohm) called “Hostmanship: The art of making people feel welcome” and this title really says it all for me. The big point though is that schmoozing the customers is only a part of the story – the culture also needs to make the employees feel welcome; it needs to make everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) with whom it interacts feel welcome.

What does it matter if you never see someone with whom you interact ever again? Well, what if today were to be your last day alive? Would you want people to feel happy that they’d known you?  Would you want to bow out having been a happy, pleasant, engaging person who made people feel wanted and welcome? Would you prefer your epitaph to be “Miserable git”?

Wealth Management needs to change in so many ways if it is to thrive and become the respected profession we would all like it to be. Changing the culture is just one small part of what I believe is necessary. More Jan Gunnarsson: “True hostmanship leaders focus on their employees. What drives exceptionalism is finding the right people and getting them to love their work and see it as a passion…”

Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Where have you been in the last six months that you’ve had a fabulous experience?

2. What was so good about it?

3. Why was it so good?

Then ask yourselves this from Jan and Ollie’s book: “Would you prefer to stay in a hotel where the staff loved their work or where management has made customers its highest priority?”

Think carefully now….

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