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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Looking For Gross in All the Wrong Places--Misplaced Focus on Financial Education

Incredible as it may sound, most financial advisors or other sales professionals
do not understand the business they are in. Here’s my evidence.

Have you noticed that many financial advisors enroll in the CFP(r) program, the CFA program or other programs to improve their knowledge of the finance arena? When they have time, they read books like “One Up on Wall Street” or “Stocks for the Long Run” or other books about gaining some mastery in the market. While all of this education is useful (and your competence is essential), devoting large amounts of effort and time to improving your financial knowledge won’t significantly increase your business. Most financial advisors know most of what they need in order to serve most clients well (if they don't they shouldn't be in the business). I'm not saying that technical competence is not important but technical competence should be a given and is a misplaced focus of business growth.

The critical aspect of our business is managing clients, not managing portfolios. The person who told you that financial advising was about managing investments played a cruel joke on you. That college advisor who urged you to major in finance to best prepare for financial advising was off the mark. You would have been far better off with a degree in psychology or communications. Because the determinant of your success is your facility in managing clients and their expectations (psychology) and powerfully attracting new clients through seminars, mail, advertising, etc. (communication) and enrolling them in their vision (sales). In a moment I will define what I mean by psychology and communication.

Now that I’ve brightened your day with the notion you’re efforts have been misplaced, how can you change focus? Rather than spending time with any more finance books or pursuing finance credentials, divert that effort to the arena of psychology and communication. For our purposes, let’s define psychology as the investigation of what makes people buy. You won’t find this topic covered in college. You will find this topic covered in a number of sales classes and books on sales. Yet the number of financial advisors and other professionals who sell and have been through formal sales training is incredibly small (formal sales training is not the training received at securities firms). So, either enroll in the Dale Carnegie Sales training, Sandler Institute or other formal sales class in your town or get a copy of “Spin Selling” and the “Spin Selling Fieldbook.” Either of these endeavors will provide a very significant increase in your ability and success in opening new accounts.

As to communication, they also do not teach in college the type of communication you want to master. You need to write letters that make people call, to write ads that make the phone ring and to write mail pieces that fill your mail box with response cards. Thus, you need a quick education in writing copy. You can get it from any of these books (the more you study, the better):

The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
Cash Copy by Jeffery Lant
Words That Bring You Riches by Ted Nicholas

The content of these books will violate everything you know about using English but the application will get you results. You will learn to communicate in a manner so that more prospects come to you.

If you’re skeptical about my recommendations, let me share the following with you.

I know a very well educated and well trained financial advisor (advanced business degrees) who knows a LOT about the financial markets. Yet the most significant element in his becoming a million-dollar producer was the sales training he took at the beginning of my career. He realized he knew nothing about selling and that having lots of knowledge about financial markets would not pay his bills. The sales training taught him to have effective sales conversations, which he learned were very different than a typical conversation.

Here’s another example. Do you know someone in the business and you feel that you know three times what they know about managing portfolios? Yet their gross commissions and fees are three times what you earn? That’s likely because he is a better communicator than you. That person has mastered the sales conversation and mastered the communication of prospecting.

Put those finance books on the back shelf and devote your professional improvement to those areas that will quickly impact your business growth.


Anonymous said...

Check out My Copywriter ( It writes click-bank style sales letters automatically.