Here is a man…….a blog by Lifetime Director William Bottomley:
It seems to be my destiny to spend my life explaining difficult concepts in simple uncomplicated language and painting pictures without being patronising in an attempt to further understanding.
Teaching Religious Education in Catholic Comprehensives for nine years stretched this ability to its limits, but every day was a challenge to engage students and help them to form opinions about the greatest topics they would ever have to tackle: the existence of God, morality, mortality, how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves, the big questions that vex us throughout our lives and to which we rarely find definitive answers.
How I loved the challenge!
My frustration was rarely with the students, even on a Friday afternoon with 30 sixteen-year-old boys who would rather be anywhere but in a classroom with this crazy man (who was trying to explain that love starts with yourself and without self-worth you can’t love anyone else).
No, my frustration mainly centred on the members of staff and parents whose idea of teaching was closer to indoctrination than to opening minds to the big questions of life.
Twenty years later I’m doing the same thing – but now I’m in disguise as a Financial Planner and Communications Director.
I’ve spent many a party stood on my own because I’ve been introduced as The Pensions Person or The Mortgage Man or the Investment Individual – and despite my protests and vain attempts to correct this misinterpretation, first impressions count for so much.
The journey from Man from the Pru to Lifetime Director has been a constant battle to communicate to clients and prospective clients that what we do is so much more than sell products.
That battle continues, not only with clients but also with the general public and even other financial advisers.
If the starting point is our clients’ story; who they are, what they are trying to achieve, what keeps them awake at night, their worries and concerns their goals and ambitions for them and their families, rather than simply looking for opportunities to sell them something, then the relationship changes and we get to have a profound effect on their lives, we make a difference.
So the challenge remains, how to communicate this desire to go further in the relationship, knowing that we can make a real difference in a way that the client will understand, knowing that their experience of our industry has, in the main, been a poor one and that they are expecting us to flog them something?!
We spend a good deal of our time talking to clients about “Financial Buckets” and about creating them a Financial Plan. The language we use is tailored to helping them to understand more clearly why we do what we do, as our purpose is not to sell them a product, but rather to make a difference to their lives by helping them the live the life they want without running out of money.
Six months ago we added another dimension to this mission of communicating our message.
Andrew, our Communications Manager, and I sat down and talked about the possibility of using animation to explain more clearly what Financial Planning seeks to do.
We wanted to set out the message that we have would like to help people to ask themselves and to provide some of the answers to “The Big Questions” in life.
This may seem a lofty ambition, but it’s what we do!
When we ask these big questions, and our clients start to ask themselves the big questions, we can start to make a difference to their lives.
It may be that they don’t always get the answers they want, but to be part of this process is a privilege for us – and life changing for them.
With the help of the brilliant Ian McMillan and Fettle Animation’s Kathy and Zane – together with the support of the Barnsley Enterprise team John and Tracey – our character, Guido (Latin for Life), has come to life.
And I was honoured and delighted to officially unveil our new animation at the recent ConnectedBiz event at The Civic in Barnsley.
Nothing seems to change, as I’m still searching for ways to get people to ask themselves the big questions of life, knowing that I’m still searching for the answers……