My first day back from holidaying in the beautiful fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall was also the first day for our new Lifetimer Luke, who has joined us as a trainee Financial Planner.
He’s just graduated from Sheffield University with a Law degree and can’t wait to get stuck into his career in Financial Services.
To be greeted with such wide eyed enthusiasm gave me such a boost after my break that I almost skipped through the post-holiday blues and moved straight onto business as usual! Almost!
Luke understands that it will take him at least two years to qualify and be able to practice as a Financial Planner, and a lifetime to gather the experience required to be a really good one.
He’s really keen to learn about all the products as soon as possible and wants to take his exams at the earliest he can.
I’m trying to slow him down!
I often talk about the pitfalls that we fall into in our industry when we use language that no one understands, and this alienates us from the very people we are trying to engage with, our clients.
The other massive mistake financial service people often make is to rush into product selling and make the products the centre of our proposition rather than our clients.
The book looks at the difference between “what” we do, “How” we do it, and “Why” we do what we do. There’s a lot in this and I would recommend everyone have a look at Simon Sinek’s TED Talk where he goes through his theories, it’s excellent.
His basic idea is that most people and companies can tell you what they do and most can say how they do it, but to understand and to articulate why we do what we do is far more difficult.
If you accept that people work to pay their bills at a basic level, then the thing that differentiates the really successful (not just financially but in all areas of being satisfied with our lot) from the also rans is an understanding and a commitment to having a why that can make a difference to other people and one that you can believe in and so can your clients.
Sinek looks at the Apple organisation as a great example of a company under Steve Jobs that was able to connect to their clients because their ‘Why’ was clear and made them stand out from their competitors.
Lots of companies sold computers when Apple came to the market, all of them concentrated their marketing on the “what” and the “how”, the technology and capabilities. Apple, on the other hand, talked of giving people the capacity to change their lives, to THINK DIFFERENT.
They took it as read that they were selling capable pieces of technology, the difference was they had a mission to help people take more control of their lives and to help them harness their imagination and they were able to communicate this understanding. It worked spectacularly.
When we look across all aspects of our lives we can find clear examples of individuals and of companies or services that either do or do not have a clear grasp of why they are doing what they do. It’s clear when you walk into a shop from the type of service you receive whether or not the assistant is there to help you to purchase what you need or if they couldn’t be bothered and are really only interested in a sale.
I went into John Lewis at Christmas intent on buying a wireless sound system. I had a make and model in mind, but came out with a different one, cheaper than I had expected but exactly what I needed and knew that the guy who served me genuinely wanted to do his best for me despite losing out on a more expensive sale. And guess who has been back to John Lewis since and who has recommended them…..!
We all know nurses and teachers, bus drivers and police, journalists and sportsmen and women, taxi drivers and shopkeepers, our own boss and the people we work with, we all know people who have a greater purpose in life and are going the extra mile. These are the people who understand their why.
So, back to Luke.
Of course at the moment he’s trying to learn as much as he can about the “what” and the “how” of our business. He has so much to learn about the products and the processes we use and so many exams to take and qualifications to gain before he can sit in front of a client and call himself a Financial Planner.
Until he understands “Why” we do what we do, that we help our clients live the life they want to lead without ever running out of money, until he wants to make a difference to every client he comes across and puts them at the centre of his plans and not the products, he won’t fully understand our business. He’s just started the exciting journey of discovery which will separate him from the also rans.