Million Dollar Round Table – the name fails to convey what benefits it provides to members, their families, businesses and clients.
Even worse, as witnessed in the response to my friend Bhupinder Anand’s article in Money Marketing in March, there is a stigma in the minds of many advisers in the UK. “It is mainly full of insurance salesmen” is an oft-repeated quote by the uninitiated.
I have just returned from my 11th annual meeting, having been a member of MDRT for 12 years. This year in Atlanta, the meeting offered me an immersion among the best in the world that I simply cannot get here in the UK.
People like Bhupinder, Ian Green and others are among that group and I speak to them regularly – there is no competition among us, rather respect and a willingness to share. Readers can only imagine the other brilliant people that we rub shoulders with at MDRT – a total of 6,600 attendees from more than 60 countries.
My first meeting was in San Francisco in 2000 – and some of my best friends today are as a result of that meeting. I also have clients who have benefited, a family that knows MDRT’s value and colleagues that I can help to inspire and motivate, all as a result of that and subsequent meetings. I cannot say that every minute of every day of every meeting has made me feel that way but the percentages are good.
MDRT is an international organisation that promotes professionalism in financial services. It caters for new advisers, experienced wealth managers, insurance agents, corporate specialists and everyone in between. Its international reach means it has to be relevant and here is the key point.
Whether the benefits received by any one member are on how to get a better work/life balance, on US rules for taxes on the death of a client, are tiny points of massive inspiration or are how to sell the benefits of a product or plan via a concept, a piece of technical knowledge or a word at the right time, MDRT just does it.
For those that insist they know (incorrectly) that it is all about life insurance and product, I seriously recommend a rethink, a reappraisal. Keynes had a good few words about changing one’s mind, of which more in a moment. Let’s face it, more than half the advisers in the UK still talk about belonging to an industry – I prefer profession.
Then there is the “salesmen” accusation. Is talking to a client about their lifetime financial planning not selling an idea, a dream? Is discussing with a prospect why our services for the management of their money are right for their needs not selling ourselves and/or our business?
Even more important, do we not need guidance through change, at work, at home and in the wider world?
I know I do and, as Keynes said many years ago: “When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do?” I decided to be a member (and a volunteer at the annual meeting) for MDRT, and as others have said, in ways big and small, it has improved my life – may I use the word change again?
What is a modern financial services professional, a client’s trusted adviser, if not an advocate of change?
Simon Gibson is director of Atkinson Bolton Consulting