A year from now, don’t wish you had started today.
A year from now, don’t wish you had started today.
I have just finished reading “Whoops! Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay”, by John Lanchester. Totally brilliant. A must read (and no I am not on commission or part of any affiliate arrangement). John is a journalist and author who in his book “Cityphilia” published at the beginning of 2008 predicted a worldwide crash based on the misuse of financial derivatives. In Whoops, John explains in terms that even I can understand what brought the banks crashing down, resulting in widespread bank bailouts in 7 of the G8 economies (Canada being the exception due interestingly to much tighter banking regulation).
He explains the technical complexities of Credit Default Swaps and Collateralised Debt Obligations in a way that even I can understand. The numbers are terrifying, the behaviour of the banks incredulous, the level of risk taken unbelievable and the ineptitude of the regulators staggering.
How, for example, was a situation allowed to develop that permitted the banks to collateralise “sub prime” mortgage debt (money lent to people who really can’t afford the repayments) and sell it to each other (offloading the risk to some poor unsuspecting but greedy financial institution (the cause of the demise of AIG) based on “AAA” ratings from the ratings agencies? In other words the banks (who paid the ratings agencies to rate the debt) somehow managed to persuade the ratings agencies to rate this sub prime debt at the same risk level as US treasury Bills! (Quelle surprise)
I found myself getting more and more angry at the greed, ineptitude, deceit, incompetence, arrogance and ambivalence of a relatively small number of people, that has resulted in the situation we now find ourselves in and for which there is a big price to pay for the next decade (and possibly generation). End of rant!
John makes a potentially “heavy” subject so entertaining and easy to follow whilst remaining totally authoritative. I found myself laughing out loud at the analogies used. Do yourself a favour. Buy this book. Being really angry and laughing out loud at the same time is a unique experience!
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Having a client review service that you can deliver consistently and profitably is key to sustaining and growing your recurring revenues. In this webcast I outline the key questions that advisers should ask themselves when designing or refining their client review service in order to ensure that they can deliver reviews on time, every time, for each client
The FSA today launched their eagerly awaited consultation paper on RDR and the use of platforms CP 10/29. Download it here
The single most common question I get asked by advisers is “how can I find more, better quality clients?” Marketing seems to be an area many advisers struggle with. Marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it does require time, energy, commitment, persistence and a little creativity. If you expect instant results, you’ll be disappointed.
Marketing Strategy 101
Marketing is the intentional process of creating and maintaining the relationship of “client”. It’s about:
In its simplest form a marketing strategy has 4 fundamental stages.
Pretty straightforward, but the next question almost inevitably is, “Where will I find all these target prospects?” The answer? Going about their everyday lives. You will find your target prospects where they usually hang out, doing what they usually do.
Unsurprisingly that means they will be at home, at work, meeting at their clubs or professional organisations, involved in their community, reading their mail, reading their newspaper or favourite magazine or professional publication, talking on the phone, listening to someone speak at a seminar or conference, (or doing other things that are none of your business and would not lend themselves to an approach by you or anyone else, such as spending time with their kids!).
Now you know where to find them, you can start to think about how you might reach them with your carefully crafted marketing materials and messages (a topic for another time). So, what are some of your options?
Not all of the above will be appropriate for you and your business. Focus on those that play to your strengths. If you’re not confident on your feet, a talk might not be the best idea. If you really want to sex up your letter, consider engaging a copywriter who can write to maximise impact and response.
Now that we know where to find them and how to reach them all you need to figure out is what to say!
What actually provides competitive success and what is difficult to copy, is not so much knowing what to do – deciding the right strategy – but instead, having the ability to do it.
Jeffrey Pfeffer/Robert Sutton, “Hard Facts, Dangerous Half Truths and Total Nonsense”
You might be interested in this short (5 min) video interview with Citywire which was released this afternoon in which I discuss with Iain Martin, whether advisers are focusing too much on exams and in doing so, whether they risk running out of time to get their business model in good shape for the adviser charging environment.
Endless column inches have been devoted to “segmentation” over the last couple of years as advisers have wrestled with the challenges of identifying their most profitable client segments or niche and the prospect of disengaging sensitively and compliantly with lower value clients.
One of the best examples of identifying a profitable niche that I am aware of, was related to me by Steve Moore, a fellow consultant, who works predominantly in the US. An adviser he worked with focuses exclusively on… wait for it… Mormon doctors in Salt Lake City. Pretty specific, don’t you agree? But guess who’s the “go to guy” for financial advice, amongst the Mormon doctor community in Salt Lake City?
Client segments can be as broad or as narrowly defined you wish. Males are a segment. But so are blond, left-handed females under age 30 who live in Guildford and drive Volvos. As this example suggests, segmentation can, to quote Tony Putman, the marketing guru and author, “be an endless exercise in accomplishing nothing much” unless you understand why you are doing it.
Theodore Levitt the renowned author and professor at Harvard Business School once said, “If you’re not thinking segments, you’re not thinking”.
Again to quote Tony, “”You want to dig your well where you have the best chance of finding water with the least amount of digging”
So, what are the key characteristics of an attractive and potentially profitable segment or niche?
Use these characteristics to evaluate the potential of each niche that you are considering focusing your marketing efforts on. The niche doesn’t have to meet all these criteria, but if it isn’t meeting 4 or 5 of them, there’s probably a better option elsewhere.
In order to differentiate you must avoid the “curse of conformity”
Jim Collins, “Good to Great”.
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