Giving Thanks

Thanks 1

by George Ray

It’s that time of year.  Time to think about and give thanks for all that we have. What do financial advisers have to be thankful for?  So many things. Here are just a few.

Firstly, the upfront costs or investment needed to build an advisory business provides those who possess an entrepreneurial spirit with the opportunity to build a business with much less capital than most other types of small businesses. Even many franchises require tens of thousands of dollars to get up and running.

Advisers have many different ways to structure their businesses, and also determine what products and services they will offer to their clients.  You can even decide what type of clients you want to service by building your business around a niche market (it’s actually quite a wise move).

You can choose from a wide variety of vendors that can become strategic partners – allowing you to gain scale in your business by outsourcing important functions and processes that could be accomplished more cost effectively and efficiently by someone who specializes in performing that service. There are money managers, marketing specialists, practice management consultants, social media experts, IT consultants, web design firms, and on and on. In fact, if there’s something that you need, but don’t want to do yourself, you can likely find someone who will do it for you.

We can be thankful for advancements in technology that are making us more efficient than ever before.  An investment in office technology can save you thousands of hours of work, and can help to lessen the need to expand staff positions. Today’s software programs can perform processes such as monitoring and rebalancing portfolios, and automatically mailing client newsletters. (You do still have to write the newsletter.) (Oh, wait, I’m wrong.  There are people who will write your newsletter for you as well.)

Technology is also enhancing and providing new (and often better) ways to communicate.  Advisers can place Skype calls to meet with clients ‘face-to-face’ without being in the same room, or even in the same city – allowing you to expand your business beyond the local geography. Online webinars can provide opportunities to update your skills and knowledge, and Google Hangouts can  offer a chance to collaborate with associates.

Advisers are also increasing the use of video to tell their story.  More and more adviser web sites are using videos to introduce the adviser in a friendly and nonthreatening way. Some videos are more formal — filmed professionally. Others are using a ‘down-home’ informal and friendly approach that can be very engaging and will resonate better with certain types of clients.

Advisers (much like their clients) are more mobile than ever.  It’s no longer necessary to sit down at your desk to access your client accounts.  Broker-dealers and custodians have recognized the need to provide their advisers with easy access to client information on smart phones and tablets.

And we should certainly give thanks that our regulators and compliance departments have gained some comfort around the use of social media, and lessened our reluctance to use it to build a market presence. More advisers are beginning to see the benefits of using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other platforms to build their brand, create conversations, and gain new clients.

By the way, it also doesn’t hurt that we’ve had a stock market (DJIA) that has been generally rising over the past year, as well as the last 5 years, and recently topped 16,000.

Yes, there are many more reasons that we should give thanks, but let’s not forget the most important reason — our clients. Our profession gives us the opportunity to meet so many people.  People who need our help. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some successful. Others struggling. Most care about themselves and their families. Some want to provide charitable help to others.

They’re concerned about lessening the impact of taxes on their income, investments, and estates. They worry about outliving their money, and whether Social Security will be around for them when they retire.  They want to know how to prevent losing the large amount of money that they’ve accumulated in their 401(k) over the many years that they’ve worked, and they’re scared as hell that they will lose something even more valuable after they retire — their sense of self-worth and purpose when they are no longer a nurse, or a baker, or a Vice President.

This is the ‘WHY’ behind what we do.  It’s why we battle with the regulators. It’s why we suffer through the negative media stories. It’s why we endure the countless interviews to find the right people to staff our practices. It’s why we come in early. It’s what keeps us up late. It’s because we care. We care about helping people to reach their goals, to fulfill their dreams.  It isn’t easy, but when we are successful, there is no greater reward.  And for that alone, we should give thanks.

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