Editor - Peter Sobels


Question: Is it still okay for financial advisers to sell?

The 2014 MDRT Annual Meeting was held in Toronto earlier this month. Over 9,000 financial advice professionals from around the world attended this year’s meeting.

There was a diverse range of topics delivered to an equally diverse adviser audience in terms of background, experience, culture and financial advice environment. While the topics covered a wide range of issues, many of them related in one way or another to helping delegates be better advisers, better people and run better advice practices.

At the heart of many of these presentations were great messages about how to be better sales people in your field. A random selection of focus sessions where sales and selling were a key component of the overall message included:

  • Selling and marketing to the generations
  • Growing your business during uncertain times
  • Teaching an old dog new tricks
  • Essential skills for advising women in couples
  • Sizzle and substance: creating brain-friendly presentations
  • Let’s talk! Life insurance conversations that empower clients
  • How to be business brilliant
  • 10 things top performing advisers do that others don’t
  • Unleash your productivity potential

I could add many more examples. This is a huge event that caters to every type of adviser. But the point I’m getting to is that everybody sells – and it’s okay, if you’re a financial advice specialist, to consider yourself a sales person as well as a financial services professional. The issue seems to be that ‘selling’ and ‘financial advice’ are often perceived as mutually exclusive. Like oil and water, the argument from some advisers and elements of the media in Australia and the United Kingdom in particular, is that sales and financial advice don’t mix. This attitude appears to be gaining momentum with the transition from commission-based remuneration for investment and superannuation advice to a fee-based service.

This attitude is simply wrong, because everybody sells.

Whenever a financial services professional is frowned on for being a sales person, this attitude seems to link ‘selling’ with ‘product’. But times are changing. Advice providers these days sell their services; not their products. They sell their expertise and experience in delivering outcomes appropriate to the needs of their clients – advice solutions which serve their best interests.

Answer: Yes – it’s still okay for financial advisers to sell.

But there’s more to it than just being okay to sell. If you’re not selling your financial advice, knowledge and expertise to your clients and prospective clients to the very best of your capabilities, then you are serving neither your own, nor your clients’ best interests.

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Peter Sobels

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