Some people say the following story isn’t true.
David Stillwater didn’t even notice how easily he left behind the “anti-establishment” mentality of the 70s as he soared to the top ranks of advisors with the largest regional financial services firm. His competitive nature drove him to burn the midnight oil and the results spoke for themselves-many new clients and large volumes of products.
The pressure was taking its toll. It’s not that he didn’t return client phone calls anymore; it’s just that he stopped listening.
Dr. Hurt, one of David’s clients, had had enough. The normally easy going dentist had become more irate with the increasingly disappointing results from the tax shelters that David had steered him toward. Hurt insisted on an evening appointment to review the “mess you’ve gotten me into!”
“Can we do this over a glass of wine?” Hurt offered. He hoped that would ease the discomfort of the review. ‘I must be coming down with something’ was the last thing that David remembered thinking.
The utter darkness confused him. David tried to move, but he felt like he was in a tunnel. Behind his head he grasped what felt like a light bulb, then the pull chain. The light hurt his eyes, and then slowly he realized where he was. Frantically his hands explored and found a small metal box. He pushed the “play” button on the hand-held tape recorder and Dr. Hurt’s voice began:
“Welcome to your new office, David Stillwater, 10 feet under ground with no interruptions. Maybe now you’ll have time to listen to me . . .”
Today, there is a new voice in town. In this present world dominated by compliance, overrun by litigating guerilla assassins, the mantra is CYA. The deafening voice of compliance has caused us to lose focus again–focus on what we really want and focus on what clients really want.
Our objective should be domination–not world domination but market domination. Let’s call it a waiting list business! One of the finest dermatologists in town schedules appointments months in advance and does not take new patients unless a previous patient dies or leaves town. The only way to become a new patient is to put your name on a waiting list. Imagine that. How different would your life be if you had a Waiting List Business of affluent and mega-affluent clients?
In its annual Affluent Market Research Program, TNS, one of the world’s largest market information companies, identified “commoditization and the need for brand differentiation, globalization, price pressure, the impact of technology, increased regulatory pressure and empowerment of consumers” as the biggest challenges facing the financial services sector.
They are all challenges, to be sure, but not the biggest. The biggest challenge is us. We have a listening problem–better yet, a “tuning” problem. We’ve all heard of the radio station WII-FM–What’s In It For Me. That’s the station that everyone is tuned to–including us. We need to change the dial to WII-FT–What’s In It For Them.
Take out a sheet of paper and write down the biggest worries of the mega-affluent. Do you know what they are? We need to become an expert in the needs, worries and concerns of the market we want to dominate. We need The O’Reilly Advantage-not Bill O’Reilly, buy Radar O’Reilly.
Remember in M*A*S*H how he anticipated the every need of Col. Potter? We must do the same. How? Interview your five “Franchise Clients”-the ones you’d build an entire business around-and find out everything about them.
Let’s talk about how to attract more Franchise Clients–in bunches.
They are out there. According to TNS, 3.3 million new millionaire households were created between 2001 and 2006. That’s a 55% growth. Fidelity’s Millionaire Outlook estimates that one-third of those millionaires have no paid financial advisor and one in 8 is looking to start using an advisor like you in the next 12 months.
Are you positioned to attract the mega-affluent? There are 13 principles that must be understood and executed to dominate the affluent marketplace. We will touch on 3.
First, discover your Values Niche. Identify your top 5 values and observe how you have built your life and best relationships around these values. Your Franchise Clients have done the same. They self-select their lifestyle choices and relationships around their values.
Deeply held values create energy and passion. Follow your values to bunches of others with similar values. Clubs, associations, organizations, hobbies, and sports are bunches. Identify them. They can become your values niches.
Second, understand how you can open the door to these bunches: Other people’s credibility (OPC). When Oprah recommends a book, sales skyrocket instantly. Why? She has credibility with her audience. OPC is about understanding who-which people or organizations-have already spent time and money to gain credibility with your values niches.
Third, make those people or organizations your credibility partner by using a WII-FT strategy. Become an expert in your credibility partner’s biggest worries–and find a way to solve them–preferably for a fee. Solve the problem in such a way that you can “draft off of” or benefit from their credibility.
Here’s an example. What’s the probability that the mega-affluent have a connection with a charity? According to the Capgenemi/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report 2007, “…HNWI’s [High Net Worth Investors] are increasing the financial resources, time and thought that they donate to philanthropic causes.”
One of charities’ biggest worries is endowment. Therefore, they need better tools to educate and motivate their planned giving donors. What if you could solve the charities’ worries in such a way that you were able to get paid to educate their affluent donors–in bunches? It’s win/win. That’s why the World Wealth Report went on to say, “From financial advisors to non-profit organizations, entities that can meet these (HNWI’s philanthropic] expectations will be rewarded handsomely.”
The good news is that David Stillwater was rescued after Dr. Hurt let details of his plan slip to someone who was listening. He lived to tell about it.
Are you trapped in a practice filled with non-franchise clients?
It’s time to be set free. Start today. Dominate the mega-affluent market. Stop CYA. Tune into WII-FT. Listen. Discover your values niches. Identify possible credibility partners. Uncover their biggest worries. Solve their biggest worries. Benefit from their credibility. Attract the affluent in bunches-and live to tell about it.
Scott Keffer is the founder and CEO of Wealth Transfer Solutions, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa. He can be reached .