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Positive charge

One idea is the 5 per cent vendor deposit where the seller gives the buyer 5 per cent in cash to help fund the deposit rather than reducing the price by 5 per cent.

The other idea is an open day. Prospective buyers are invited to look round the property for a few hours on a set day and an opening price is set substantially lower than the property is on the market for. The sellers do not have to accept any offers but it is a great way to get a lot of viewers round the property in a short time. What you hope is that a bidding battle will break out between prospective buyers.

I was very impressed by this estate agent because of his positive attitude. He said: “This is a really exciting time to be an estate agent. You get to work as an estate agent rather than an order taker.”

A positive mental attitude is the number-one personal skill that any person should have but it is not a subject that is studied at school or university. It is important in any aspect of life but is a pre-requisite for success at work.

My partner recently told me that you can choose your attitude. She had recently heard an inspirational talk by Debra Veal, the British woman who rowed solo across the Atlantic earlier this year. This was the phrase she used to describe how she overcame the mental and physical challenge of rowing single-handedly for 111 days.

I have always said that if there is a recession, I am not taking part. Even if we do have a recession, so what? A recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP in an economy. In other words, the country’s production of goods and services has shrunk for six months. It is hardly the end of the world, is it?

During times of economic decline, we have the chance to re-energise and reinvent ourselves. Now is the time to meet the challenges of the retail distribution review, treating customers fairly and the credit crunch head on.

There is a great secret out there. It is something people do not talk about very much but it is captured by phrases such as every cloud has a silver lining and change brings opportunity. This is what we have right now. Opportunities galore.

What would it take for you to say this is a really exciting time to be a financial adviser? How about the following:

  • Grade all your clients. Get rid of the Cs and Ds and only keep the As and the Bs that are capable of becoming As within the next 12 months.

  • Arrange review meetings with all your retained clients.

  • Make a wrap account your fundamental business proposition.

  • Charge agreed fees, not commission.

  • Review clients’ investments and pensions quarterly.

  • Run seminars regularly.

  • Use financial planning tools, especially lifetime cashflow forecasts.

  • Revamp your website.

  • Send regular email newsletters to clients and prospects.

  • Use referral systems.

  • Review your IFA services company and replace it if necessary.

  • Review your back-office system and replace it if necessary.

  • Aim your advice at key areas such as transfers from poorly performing money-purchase pensions, review investment bonds following recent capital gains tax changes, consider rebasing investment bonds to minimise tax or use CGT annual exemptions for collectives.

  • Create a value proposition statement for clients.

  • Last but not least, create a positive mental attitude by reading books, listening to CDs, attending workshops and seminars, not listening to the news and not mixing with negative-minded people.

    Get out there, really go for it and keep telling everyone this is a great time to be a financial adviser.

    Tony Byrne is a financial planning director at Wealth and Tax Management

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