What Did I Forget? “The Problem”

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If I can’t seem to find something, I Google it. If I can’t find my way, I can ask Siri, Garmin or my friend OnStar. I don’t need my briefcase; I have my Notebook or iPad. I don’t need forms or a pen because I can access them online and use electronic signatures. There’s no need for a letter or a phone call — I can email and text, Tweet and instant message. There are no time barriers, so I can reach almost anyone anywhere at any time on my cell, computer or iPad. We’ve certainly made our world faster, easier, and apparently, more efficient. With all this progress, what could I possibly forget?

Those of us in the financial services industry have benefited immensely from these advances. We’re usually at the forefront of the next technology, especially if it might enhance our business. So let’s talk about our business. 

Out of the clamor of confusion and increasing competition, financial professionals turned to creative marketing to survive. They attempted, through cute slogans and gimmicks (Never!) to attract and maintain clients. We feed them breakfast, lunch and dinners at seminars and workshops, only making the restaurants famous. We send massive emails, newsletters, brochures, and sometimes even more food to keep their attention. Now, what did I forget? Oh, now I remember: I forgot that I started in this crazy business because I actually care about the real people.

“The Solution”

Amazingly, the challenges we face today to secure and maintain clients is like no challenge we’ve ever faced before. Once again, the answer lies in caring about people just the same as we have our entire careers — well, almost. The answer starts with discovery. Not just fact-finding, but discovering who our clients are, or as my friend Frank Orcino puts it, “Who you are, not what you have.” But before this all begins, we need a plan of our own.

There are many different ways to get in front of potential new clients. Our first challenge is deciding exactly who we want for our ideal clients. Once you narrow down who your target clients are (for example, ages 50–75 with a net worth greater than $100,000 and investable assets upwards of $300,000 with minimal, if any, debt), uncertainty and stress persist. You created this demographic list and it will define the people with whom you are most comfortable. Now that we know who you want to talk to, how do we find them? In order to continue growing our businesses, practices and client base, what do we need to do?

A successful business follows a well-designed system. In order to build this system, let’s first identify the most important component, the client. The demographic you pinpoint as your “ideal client” not only depends upon targeting certain ages, professions or incomes, but also who you are most comfortable in front of professionally. Naturally, there will be income and net worth criteria, but some of the other characteristics are about compatibility. Maybe you are most comfortable around 30–45-year-old professionals, 55–75-year-old boomers, women business owners, or entertainers and athletes. Your success in continuing to build your business will be determined by your ability to leave your “jack-of-all-trades” hat behind and build your business on your own terms.

Once you decide where that market is, you need to identify the best way to reach them, such as with seminars, social media, workshops or speaking engagements, to name a few. Whatever strategy works for you is the right one. Gimmicks never pay, so forget magical shortcuts and get serious. A difficultly we all share is how to create the need for our services once we get the opportunity to get in front of our prospective target group or client. One thing about this industry, we never seem to stop inventing catch phrases to alarm our audience (e.g., inflation, nest eggs, outlive your money, taxes, the dreaded nursing home, and so on). These are overused, ineffective and not about people.

The most difficult subjects to address with our potential clients are the ones they rarely mention. Fact-finding merely gathers facts and will rarely address these issues. Discovery, on the other hand, discovers who our clients really are. Our seminars will not necessarily address what they want to hear, but rather what they need to bring to the surface and address. Real-life challenges face people of all walks of life and can include divorce, family members with addiction, caring for elderly loved ones with diminished mental capacity and many more. All of these life events have financial repercussions and all need to be addressed by you, the concerned professional agent, advisor or consultant. How can you make financial recommendations strictly based upon fact-finding? You only discover facts and what the “other guys did.” These are “people” issues and we are in the “people” business. It’s “Who you are, not what you have” that distinguishes us from others.

In every coaching or consulting arrangement with agents and advisors I encounter, every speech I’ve ever given, and in the daily practice of my own business, this is the message I deliver. What you will find is this: Not only does this approach make you stand out in the client’s eyes, but it also separates you from the financial industry. Build trust because you took the time to earn it. Make recommendations because you believe your suggestions will work. You’ll be amazed by your clients’ response, and when they refer you, the conversation will be: “I know you have someone currently, but you really need to meet Tom — he’s different!” Looks like I didn’t forget after all!

Thomas Hakim, Jr., Founder and President of Hakim Financial Inc., has guided numerous individuals, corporations, organizations and school districts toward financial independence and stability for more than 30 years. He prides himself in keeping strong relationships and communication with his clients as the top priority for his company. Recognized and respected in the financial industry nationwide, Tom’s down-to-earth, direct approach to complex situations in both the financial industry and in life has made him a sought-after lecturer and national seminar guest speaker, coach and consultant to advisors for more than 25 years. He has also written as a guest columnist and has been quoted in many newspapers, books and periodicals. He also hosted the government access TV show “People and Money” for 10 years. The ongoing demand for Tom’s advice and services over the years has ultimately allowed him to enhance the services of his own firm constantly to best advise his clients. You can reach Tom at (586) 468-1187.

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