Sunday, March 7, 2010

“I didn’t go to grad school to be a salesman”

Or, “I didn’t study accounting…,” or “…didn’t get my CFA (or CFP) to be a salesman.”

Face, it, none of us did. If we had wanted to be in sales, we’d have launched that career right out of college, made a bunch of money, and now be retired with a second home in Bimini and a time-share at South Lake Tahoe. But, we didn’t, because we wanted to pursue more “intellectual” pursuits. We wanted to be “all we could be” in terms of using our gray matter in the complex world of finance.

Sell or “die,” like it or not

But, if we don’t “sell,” we won’t have our own advisory businesses, or we won’t keep our jobs (even it you are a portfolio manager, or a relationship manager/administrator, or a planner).

On the RIA-side, clients “attrit” for “natural” reasons totally unrelated to our service or our performance. We know that and we likely know our “run-off rate.” It/they (the revenue they generated) has to be replaced or our business folds. Then we can’t use all that education and training to help people while we help ourselves.

On the corporate-side as a PM, or planner or administrator, we know there’s a referral “bogey” we must meet for bonus, and (in some places) even to keep our jobs. That’s just the “macro/corporate” version of the same sales stresses on the independent or small RIAs.

“Asset Aggregator” or “Asset Manager.” Which?

I was in a recent dialogue with an advisor that thinks advisors who see their role as “asset aggregators” are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He felt that an advisor that was good at sales (aggregating assets), then turned all but the relationship management over to a third party (maybe a TAMP, “turnkey asset management provider”) was a charlatan.

Rubbish, I say. Methinks that’s rubbish for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I personally don’t know many (any?) single practitioners, or small RIA groups, that can do all the planning, portfolio design and management, reporting, compliance AND do the relationship management, AND then grow the business enough to sustain it and grow it in the long run.

Some advisors are natural “relationship managers with a portfolio manager mindset (really enjoys the numbers-side).” Others are natural “relationship developers and relationship managers,” but enjoy the people-side more than the numbers-side. He called this second group “wolves.” I’d call them “asset aggregators.”

Whichever you are, you must “sell.”

It’s not as difficult as you (you “asset managers”) think, if, in fact, you honestly believe what you do is good for your clients. Do you? If not, you better rethink a lot about your life.

Selling something that you truly, honestly, and sincerely believe (that’s selling you and your benefits) is no more difficult that studying, practicing, and going into the “distasteful” process of selling with a different approach, a different mindset.

In the next blog, I’ll work to convince you that selling yourself is easy. And, it is good.

Meanwhile, please comment in the box below for all to see.

(Next post: how believing in yourself makes “selling” something that makes you feel really, really, good.)

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