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Independent view

Did you attend this year&#39s LIA conference in London? If not, you missed out on one of the highlights of the year.

The conference was a tremendous opportunity to learn some new ideas – understand new concepts for business, gain some inspiration and motivation, and share time with some of the very best people in the industry.

If you did not attend, was it because you know all the ideas that there are to know? Fully understand all the ways in which you can work with clients? Are already so motivated that anyone else who talks about vision and focus will make you physically explode? And are writing such huge level of business that you are the best in the profession?

If this doesn&#39t describe you, and unless you have a genuine excuse, then perhaps you should reconsider your stance.

Surely all those people who attend the LIA conference, Sofa conference and the million dollar round table annual meeting must be doing something right. They can&#39t all have time and money to waste but treat those commodities as an investment on their future.

During this year&#39s LIA conference, I had the privilege of sharing some of my thoughts with my fellow delegates on how they could plan their own futures, my presentation being entitled, Be the Person you Want to be in 10 years Time, Today. I challenged the audience to think years ahead and then put into place a plan to help them get there.

I asked the audience if anyone had ever tried to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box.

Yet many people live their lives without a sense of direction (the picture on the box) and only look back on their lives to wonder what picture they created. Having a clear vision enables us to find the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that we need to achieve our goals.

In my opinion, part of this vision of the future is an understanding that clients are going to be more demanding in their need for financial planning rather than merely being the consumers of financial products. The positioning for this needs to be happening now.

For example, another interesting question is, how many advisers want the whole world as their clients? None, I would imagine, unless you are a volume-based discount broker. Yet how many advisers&#39 business models look like they want the whole world as their clients?

We need to understand the need to have a clear message to our prospects, to refine the people we deal with.

Clearly, some people I met at the LIA conference had not quite grasped the importance of this as I had an interesting conversation with some advisers who asked me how I handle objections and close the sale with my clients, This set me thinking and I realised that I do not really get any objections and have never had to close a sale with some smart statement. The strongest I ever get is to say, shall we make it happen?, which is a cue to start completing the application forms for the products that the client has decided to proceed with, out of the choices of solution that I have given him or her.

If we have identified our own skills, identified the kind of clients we want to deal with, rejecting those prospects who are not going to be profitable, and used effective marketing skills to identify our client proposition, then we do not have to handle objections and close the sale.

All we need to do is draw up a financial plan that gives our client options, then help him or her to understand the impact of each of those options and simply guide them into making an informed choice.

If we approach the client from the mental perspective of “what products can I persuade this person to buy?”, we must fully expect objections and have an armoury of ways in which to close the sale.

Instead, closing the sale should merely be a natural progression that the client makes for himself after we have explained the steps needed to be taken in creating a financial plan.

As financial planners, if our entire marketing and positioning process encourages the client to feel that this is going to be a valuable, profitable and enjoyable experience for them, they will not create objections.

Bhupinder Anand is managing director of Anand Associates

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