We are all living in bubbles, according to media personality Waleed Aly, who recently gave the keynote address at the FSC Leaders Summit in Melbourne.
This reflects conventional wisdom that financial services as an industry tends to talk to itself, rather than connecting with those outside of the industry.
Perhaps it’s these self-built bubbles which prevent our industry from reaching the 80 per cent of adult Australians who don’t seek advice.
Mr Aly explained that in a previous life, upon entering the legal profession, he and his colleagues would fawn over titles denoting perceived hierarchy. Yet the reality was that to those outside the legal practice, he would simply be known as the ‘lawyer’.
The same thing occurred with his next foray in academia where the highest concern was around which publishing house, Cambridge Press, Columbia or otherwise would do his book justice.
But for commonfolk, the immediate response was of course far removed from this, and more concerned with adulation that he had written a book!
Similarly in financial services, he suggested, when we are caught up in our issues, they perhaps have little bearing on people outside the industry, or our bubble.
Bubbles are complex and across a wide range of areas – we are all part of a cultural bubble, educational bubble, geographic bubble, age bubble etc. When bubbles intersect, things work more effectively.
As advisers, we need to speak to our clients - in ways that are meaningful to them.
We all endeavour to focus on the customer – it’s in our mission statements – yet there is a real risk for our world, our jargon and our bubbles to become opaque.
We can lose visibility of what is outside us.
This was a great lesson, and of course one told much better from someone outside of my own financial services bubble.
It also gave us the opportunity to take stock of who we are, where we are and why it is important to change the way we speak to customers and the broader community about what we do.
When it comes to financial advice, we’re used to talking to each other about issues such as underinsurance, investments and fees. It’s equally important to realise that our issues are quite likely separate to those that our clients may have.
We need to speak their language, get a feel for their concerns to understand and offer appropriate services to satisfy their financial planning needs.
Many people don’t know what financial planning is, or how it can help them. Instead, people understand they need to prepare for retirement, pay for their children’s education, get into the property market or take that overseas trip.
Financial advisers can help people reach these goals by structuring their clients’ finances efficiently and protecting their assets. Importantly, quality financial advice can give clients peace of mind. After all, we all want to sleep better at night.
Your best assets are your clients, those people who have achieved goals and peace of mind and who can refer you to others. Step out of your bubble – speak clearly to clients, make sure you satisfy their needs, and while you’re helping them, they’ll be helping your business grow and prosper.
Julia Newbould, Stella Network Leader, BT Financial Group