30 May 2018

3 ways to help you manage the disruptions in the financial services industry

Remember the good, ol’ days when all someone had to do to sell something, was to walk up to a person, and say, “Hi! I’ve got something you need.” Life was simple then. But now, with the Internet and technology and the ever-shortening attention spans of people, things have gotten more than just a little bit complicated for anyone who’d like to offer their services to somebody.

This means that for those of us who have been in the financial services industry for 10 or more years, the prospecting and sales techniques that might have worked for you in the past may not be as effective today. But you don’t have to take this lying down.

In this post, I’ll be looking at three of the major disruptions currently taking place in our industry as discussed in an interview I conducted on YouTube. I’ll also talk about three of the ways you can cope as a savvy financial advisor.

Because while the environment and the technology in it may have changed, one thing remains the same: there are people out there who need you to help them plan their finances, and prepare for the future.


Quite the buzzword in this day and age, “disruption”, according to Tony Robbins, is a game-changing innovation—like radio or television was back in the day, and like how Netflix is today.

Most businesses, whether they are B2C or B2b, face three major disruptive forces:

1. The Competition. In a free economy, anyone can enter your market at any time, and even more daunting is the fact that your competitor might not be who you think. Sony, for example, isn’t (just) competing with the likes of Samsung or Sharp, but with Apple and even Nintendo.

In the same way, financial advisors, as salespeople, don’t just compete with their fellow advisors, but with robo-advisors and other methods used by financial firms to reach out to their customers online.

2. The Internet. Those of us who’ve been around long enough know the Internet has had a lot to do with “disrupting” the way we currently do business. The point could be made that this is because of how it levels the playing field for players of all sizes.

This level playing field leads in an indirect fashion to the elimination of the middle man or the broker. Businesses can get in touch with their clients directly without a liaison or a go-between. This means that people like trainers, consultants, accountants, financial advisors and salespeople are gradually being replaced by technology.

3. Inattention. And because of the Internet and everything tech, people are constantly and very easily distracted and just don’t pay very much attention to anything anymore.

This means that traditional, interruptive prospecting methods such as roadshows, canvassing, cold calls and knocking on doors, aren’t as effective as you once might have thought them to be.

You see, the problem with financial advisors or pretty much anyone in sales today, is that they seem to “not want to see” the disruptions taking place around them—much like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. What we need to do is to recognise these changes, and do our best to adapt early on.

Personally, I can tell you that in doing training consulting in the financial services sector, I’ve interacted with a lot of advisors, some of whom have been in the business for 20 to 30 years. And the greatest challenge these advisors have to face is not technological change or the trends, but the stubbornness in being unwilling to learn, unlearn, and relearn.


As all those disruptive forces appear to conspire against you, the main thing is to not lose hope. There is still a lot of potential for financial advisors to not just survive but to succeed in this scenario. Like the saying goes, “Where there is danger, there is also opportunity”, and it’s up to us to make the most of the opportunities to be had.

History has shown that businesses actually see a spike in their sales during times of major disruption, because weaker players unable to cope with the disruption end up shutting down. The customers of these weaker players, therefore, end up to going to the survivors and causing the spike.

But because it’s a spike, that sharp uptick is quickly followed by a crash, which is when even the bigger, surviving businesses that haven’t found a way to adapt to the changes, start to suffer heavy losses as well. This means you can’t just be complacent and ride the disruption out. You need to prepare, or to prevent your own crash by learning to manage the disruptive forces now.

So here are three ways to help you manage the disruptions in the financial services industry:

1. Differentiation. Identifying and leveraging what sets you apart from all the other financial advisors, robo-advisors or what have you out there, is the only way you’re going to stand out from the competition. This is not to say that being different from, and not better than the competition is more important, but being different gives you a decided edge in besting them.

Personal branding has a huge part to play in differentiating yourself, and figuring out who your customers are, in turn, plays a huge part in your personal brand.

2. Find your fan base. It’s important to identify the kinds of clients you want to prospect because, as the saying goes, “When you try to go after everyone, you end up appealing to no one.”

You’ve got it made if you can manage to be the one and only financial advisor servicing a particular group of clients who are naturally drawn to you. These are the people you click with and whose language you can speak the most effortlessly. And the best part is, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one group.

3. Know yourself. It’s only when you truly know your own strengths and weaknesses as a financial advisor that you can improve as a financial advisor. Getting to the real root of the problem behind your heretofore unsatisfactory performance is the only way you’ll be able to address the problem effectively by making the necessary changes.

You can’t make these changes unless you know what they need to be. Until then, there’s really no point in trying to solve the problem. For instance, until you know what your natural selling style is, whether it’s through the force of your personality or what not, you won’t know what sales strategy will work best for you, or even which clients you’d best pursue.

I can’t help but feel frustrated at how so many financial professionals spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions on programmes that don’t help them get the results they want. You see, I believe in creating results, and lasting, sustainable success.


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