How Are You Serving Your Clients or Customers Today?

How do you serve clients over the course of your career?How do you serve clients over the course of your career?

I’ve made a major transition in my life over the past several months. You may have noticed I haven’t been around as much online. I’m taking my career in a new direction, one that I believe serves my friends, clients, and partners more effectively. A direction where I work more closely with my clients on the things that matter most in their lives; their families, coworkers, and communities.

I have always dreamed of becoming a financial advisor. It’s not that I haven’t been providing financial and investing advice to clients on their businesses, and occasionally their children or grandchildren, for a long time.  Most of my clients take for granted that I understand investments and investing strategies. Much of my investing advice has been about their most valuable asset, their business. 

After 30 years with many different  Berkshire Hathaway organizations I’ve picked up many great investing ideas from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. My clients always loved the stories and ideas I shared from this dynamic duo.

In my career, at last count, I’ve worked with over 15 highly successful financial service organizations starting with Bank One over 30 years ago. Partnering with IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, I had an opportunity to learn from many of the world most brilliant financial leaders.

Now, fast forward to today. My life took a dramatic change of direction when my wife almost died a year ago. When you lose or almost lose someone who is your world you begin reevaluating how you’ve invested your life. For me, it was eye opening. My clients and partners were very helpful in keeping me busy as Tricia recovered. Thank you for your support.  Oddly, some people treated me like a commodity. They really didn’t seem concerned about my life or my wife. I was a commodity and I could be replaced.

This alone wasn’t a problem for me, it wasn’t like they were paying me when we weren’t engaged. Since my life is based on serving others and treating everyone as a client, I had a hard time going back to work with these customers that didn’t have any real regard for me.  I had to make a change in my life.

I call these people customers, a term I despise like nails across a chalk board. Screech!!! I could not work with them any longer. The same shallow conversations, the one-sided concern, and the ability to ask for more while providing little value in return forced me to reconsider my life and what I loved to do. I had to stop being an influencer and go back to being the person who had impact on my clients’ lives and businesses.

Lucky for me, my former customers seemed to agree by dismantling many of the programs I had worked on with them. Many of my key contacts had moved on.  Their old organizations felt like something out of a Twilight Zone episode.

I had discussions with several long-term clients.  They also suggested it might be time for a change. They then did a lightning coaching session with me to help me decide what I might like to do with the next stage of my life. They asked if money wasn’t a problem, what message would I like to bring to the world? I was hoping for a big check! Just kidding. The opposite occurred; they kept asking me what I wanted to do with my life.

I shared that I always thought it would be fun to be a financial  advisor. I had worked with many advisors and wealth managers  over the years for clients. It seemed like a challenging job. But when done right your impact could help your clients in many positive ways.

From the work I’ve done over the past several years I knew that the financial  services industry was ready for disruption in the client acquisition side of the business. I decided that I wanted to write a book to help advisors take their relationships from customers to clients. I talked to many great people on this topic.

But then one of my referrals told me, “It’s easy to write a book. If you think you have the best solution maybe you should prove it works in the field before calling it sales wisdom.” I thought he might have been  a little angry that I felt he was not a good sales professional. He couldn’t be further from the truth. I thought what he was doing was amazing.

I also felt he made a good point, if I really thought I knew what works, prove it! So, I went back to get licensed in insurance both life and health, two areas that are changing very quickly as the population ages.

For many financial advisors their financial  service clients are becoming customers, seen as a commodity. I believe technology is going to change everything very quickly as clients move to midlife and towards retirement. So, as of the end of March, I passed my licensing tests and started my sales training.

What I’ve learned about financial services has changed my view of the world we all live and work in. Stick around, I think you’ll find what I’ve learned earth shattering, unless you are already experiencing it firsthand! See you next week.

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