If Wishes Were Horses then Beggars Would Ride

by Ami Tully Lotka, CFP

September 2008 brought a whole new horse out of the stable and it has been a rough ride to be sure.  But recalling the sage words my dear grandmother told me, “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.”  If this job were easy then anybody could do it.  So get your boots on tight and hold on!  If you are prepared with a solid game plan and have proven selling skills...then your job is simply to STAY ON THAT HORSE!
How do you help your clients in a market like this?  How do you create momentum out of fear and confusion?  What is the best strategy for right now?
Let’s recall 3 best practices to see if they will stand the test of a wild ride:
1. Invest your time with the right people...the right people are your 50/50/50 list of top 50 most important loyal clients, your next 50 high potential clients, and your top 50 prospects.  Hmm...this is still the right list but suddenly these investors are even harder to reach...both mentally and physically.  If you involve an assistant in your practice, go back to that list and have an update discussion with your assistant.  What has changed?  How have these investors responded to your outreach efforts?  What can we do to take care of the clients on this target list?  What revisions need to be made to this list?  This is the ideal market to tap prospects that do not do business with you.  Add new prospects to your list and to your assistant’s list.  Your ideas will be the new solution in your prospect’s portfolio.
2. Leverage your resources...if there were ever a market to not “go it alone”...it is this one!  Connect in with your relationship team.
    Both internal associates and external experts who you rely on to help mutual clients.  Attorneys, accountants, insurance agents and maybe even a banker…yes, a banker.   You need the positive energy derived from talking to other professionals who are dealing with the same scenarios.  You need to find a way to lighten up your attitude, lighten your load and reenergize!  Schedule a sit down one hour meeting with your assistant to talk about the best and worst experiences with clients in person and on the phone.  Restate your divide and conquer strategy.  Pull it in tighter if you have to...calling on fewer people, but the RIGHT people is going to drive results today.  Have that strategy update with your assistant this week!
3. Have a game plan...and STICK TO IT!  It is tempting to run fast and furious and see everyone or anyone...non-strategy.  There might be a disconnect between the clients you want to see and those who will take your call today.  Clients need you to listen and vent, bring real tools to help them deal with complex problems they face.  You have good tools but it takes more effort to use those tools with the right people today. Don’t waste precious tools and time. Stick to your game plan.  You rule your business!

Does this strategy stand up to the test of a wild market?                                                                        
     Of course it does!  It makes more sense than ever!  
    Every investor you know has been adversely affected by this market.  One top advisor told me last week that he wished he could travel with a psychologist to help ease the pain that his clients are feeling.  Guess what?  You are the psychologist.  Just as I am encouraging you to stick to your best practices, you should be encouraging clients to do the same.  The three best practices mentioned here make the same basic sense for clients too.
    Here is what you should do:
    1. Retool your most loyal clients’ financial plans.  Look at their list of priorities.  Given what has happened is their Top 5 priorities still the same?  These 5 will significantly impact your business and you will do the same for them.  They will not be easy to achieve, so you will need to have a specific strategy to reach them. What will be most useful to accomplish the task?  What will you offer?  When?  Without a specific plan, nothing will happen with these Top 5 priorities.  Get an action with each on your calendar.     
    2. Review your top 50 top potential clients with your assistant and do a full debrief on what you know about each one of your most important relationships.  Narrow the list if necessary and double up the effort with the most critical investors.  Get out in front with timely commentaries, market reviews, conference calls, and investor messages.  Make sure you are spoon feeding these resources to your top potentials.  Remember, most investors have multiple advisor relationships.  Show them so “love”.  You will be surprised how many of your competitors are looking like a “deer caught in headlights”.  More thoughtful and deliberate contact with the right people will divide the good from the great advisors.
    3. Be positive.  Everything about you should tell an investor:  I am positive I can help you and I am positive we will get through this.  And the investor will be grateful you are on the planet!  

    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.  If this were an easy job...anyone could do it.  It is NOT easy and you are NOT anybody.

    Ami Tully, CFP, President of Maximum Impact Partners, Inc., has worked with over 90 financial services firms in the U.S and abroad, conducting sales and management training.  Ami has helped shape distribution initiatives for leading financial services organizations in Canada, Korea, Japan, India and Hong Kong as well as the U.S.  Clients have included AIG Life Insurance, Ltd (Asia), AIG SunAmerica, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services, Grubb & Ellis Securities, MFS, AXA Distributors (US), AXA Japan, Transamerica Retirement Plan Services, Hotchkis and Wiley and Payden & Rygel.  Ami can be reached via e-mail at ami@gotimpact.com.