I believe that a client does not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I could put a small pile of letters after my name but not only does it matter little to the client, the cynic in me says it smacks of desperation.
Letters on your business card used to mean something but, having come out of an educational period that produced degrees in Star Trek, their currency is somewhat devalued. As the Wizard of Oz said in one of my favourite films “why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity”.
I had to be persuaded to use the letters APFS but I need no persuading to care – that comes naturally to those of us who get pleasure from helping clients. And I know many of you share a similar belief, yet the perception of us is still poor.
The general public is exposed to too much jargon about the technicalities of this and that and whether something costs 0.4 or 0.5 per cent, when really the public wants to know why he needs to do something rather than nothing when all he can see is black hole that collects his premiums.
From what I’m hearing on the street, in the big search for care, big talk is a big turn off and I’m not at all surprised.
I feel no different as a client of investment and protection providers.
Many people find me very laid back but bad sales reps really get my goat. I don’t care how much they annoy me as long as I know how much they genuinely want to help me.
I am talking about the difference between the old style sales rep that regularly turns up to literally say “where’s the business?” (yes, they still exist) and those who say “can I help? Have you thought about doing it this way?”.
This was never more evident than during the recent enforced sabbatical following the Honister debacle. Some made sure we were fed and watered, others were too busy tapping their feet at another door down the way.
In an era where every provider seems to have an all singing, all dancing risk rated portfolio and the next best pension decision making tool is matched within a matter of weeks, it is only when the chips are down the true colours shine through.
As we move towards a commoditisation of offerings, it’s pretty obvious who is going to get the business. Those that care, stupid.
It Is the people, advisers and provider reps, who can make a difference that really light the place up and in turn make their professions such a fulfilling place to be.
This is an industry in which you can make a vast difference to people’s lives just by showing how much you care.
Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands