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Mel Kenny: Why specialism is the key to long-term success

Mel Kenny - grey

What an amazing Olympics that was. I was lucky enough to go to a wide variety of events from the initial ballot and I enjoyed every minute.

In the build-up to the games there was a lot of discussion about who is the greatest British Olympian and whether the prolific gold medal-winning rower Steve Redgrave or the ever-popular decathlete Daley Thompson should light the cauldron.

Michael Phelps, who has collected so many medals and broken so many records in his career arguably became the greatest ever Olympian during London 2012.

But should the specialists win the most praise or ought the credit go to the heptathletes and decathletes of this world that have the skill to compete in so many different sports, albeit generally to a lower standard than the specialists.

From an early age I have always been biased towards the multi-disciplinarians – Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge and Daley Thompson’s Decathlon made great computer games.

But hang on, I have been working in an incredible world of specialists, hept-advisers and dec-advisers that have been changing people’s lives for years and years.

There is the adviser that goes about their business focusing on the vital client-facing role they are so adept at, providing the type of advice in an area where their knowledge is so acute, winning gold medal after gold medal with a business model that suggests it will not stop.

Then there is the multi-disciplined hept-adviser who is their own chief at marketing, administration, advising, learning, ensuring a profitable business and who fights the necessary ongoing battles with the regulator.

On top of that we have decathletes of the adviser world, that also hold adviser licences on all areas of investment, insurance and mortgages. These businesses may have achieved gold and silver in the past but, like the heptathlete and decathlete’s bodies that cannot cope with the demands of multi-eventing the older they get, the hept-adviser and dec-adviser’s business model also has a limited shelf life.

As in sport, many specialists fail to make it anywhere near the top, let alone trying to succeed in many different areas.

In fact, to try and be good at so many things, chances are you are more likely to put in a performance akin to that of Mr Bean rather than Mr Bond, drowning your sorrows with a six-pack rather than toning your six-pack.

Daley Thompson’s Decathlon wrecked the ‘x’, ‘y’, ‘l’ and ‘m’ keys and the space bar on my Commodore 64 – and trying to be like him is also likely to wreck businesses.

Mel Kenny is a chartered financial planner at Radcliffe & Newlands


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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. man on the moon 21st August 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Would like to think of victoria pendleton but for the purposes of this I shall be Sir Chris Hoy.

    Mel – the biggest lesson I have been taught in this business is that its all about having great clients. I would just like more of them.

  2. How many clients do you know that only require advice in one area ie your specialism? I think the IFA role by definition denotes competency across a broad spectrum and the ability to bring expertise in from outside where this is required to give the best outcomes for clients.

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