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When a good idea sticks
When a good idea sticks

Mar 01 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

When a good idea sticks

Temporary fixes that yielded so much benefit, they became habits.

Topics Covered

Experimentation is the key to innovation, and the last few years have been a time of major transformation for many in the profession.

MDRT members blazed new trails after trying a temporary fix that was so effective it became a permanent part of their practices and personal routines. One member sent questionnaires to clients during the pandemic shutdown just to learn how to improve her service. Now she regularly solicits feedback and uses the comments as testimonials for marketing. Another used to think he needed prospects more than they needed him. Fed up with rejection, he tried adopting a new perception of how the advisor-client dynamic works and has since realized more second meetings.

Have you tried any of these approaches in your business? Check out how your colleagues adapted and see what they’re doing to stay on top of their game.

The 21-day social media challenge

During the first year of my business in 2018, I was reluctant to brand myself on social media. As an introvert and an ex-police officer, I wasn’t used to having an online presence or documenting my work on social media. However, I wanted to position myself better and attract clients by showing my values, the person I am, and the passion and purpose I have for this profession. I embarked on a 21-day social media challenge and posted something every day for 21 days to help folks understand me better as an individual and my work ethic as a financial consultant. It’s been more than five years since then, and my business is now 100% attraction based.

Joyce Chan, Singapore, five-year MDRT member

Write your own playbook

When I started in this business, I was forced into training by my senior managers, and I always thought of ways to ignore them, as I considered these sessions to be temporary. But over time, training became part of my life, and now I allocate an annual budget for the training sessions and plan them beforehand. I understand that training is an integral part of my life as an advisor. During a session in 2014, one of the keynote speakers suggested making a training diary and using it throughout the training. It became like a bible to me as it has all my notes and learnings.

Anant Jain, CFP, MBA, Ranchi Jharkhand, India, 13-year MDRT member

The moment I did that, and the prospect knew there was a chance I might reject them, the dynamic completely changed.
— Alessandro Forte

Finding a new path

During lockdown, like a lot of people, I needed to get outside for my allotted time of fresh air and exercise. It was a stopgap — I usually play cricket and go running regularly. I decided that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I should have a walk. Cricket was impossible because of social distancing, and running with the family wasn’t an option either. I found a great walk nearby, settled into it and stopped to take a photo at the same spot every time. I cannot say that every single Tuesday and Thursday I have done that since, but I do it almost every week. I have an amazing set of very similar photos, but most of all I have the chance to clear my head, get some exercise and listen to a favorite audiobook (currently “Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle). I can play cricket each summer again now, and I do run, but my walks have remained — and they will. It turns out that good habits are habit forming.

Simon John Gibson, Dip PFS, Newmarket, England, UK, 25-year MDRT member

It takes two

At the start of my career, too few of my prospects became clients, and I realized that was because I allowed them to take control of the process. There seemed to be this subconscious thought that We need them more than they need us, and yet I now know the opposite is true. I got so disillusioned at being rejected and by prospects procrastinating that I stopped focusing on the outcome. Instead, I simply started saying that while I accepted it was for the prospect to decide if they wanted to work with me, it was a mutual decision, since the quality of the relationship is key to a good outcome. The moment I did that, and the prospect knew there was a chance I might reject them, the dynamic completely changed. It prompted me to develop a short script, which has led to first- and second-meeting conversions more than 97% of the time.

Alessandro M. Forte, FCII, CFP, Bawtry, England, UK, 26-year MDRT member 

Recharge and go

I realized that if we want to achieve the MDRT target, we need our peers’ support, so I created a group of five financial advisors in my office. Beginning in June 2023, we started scheduling a regular session we call Recharge and Go. We committed to holding the meeting twice a week from 8 to 9 p.m. This one-hour session is a time when we can share our activities, victories and failures, and we pray together so that we can achieve MDRT.

I began to see the result slowly. I first achieved MDRT in July 2023. Then, one of the members of the group achieved his MDRT by September. Another one has already closed cases and has achieved the MDRT target and hopefully will finish her MDRT by November. The other two are enthusiastic about speeding up their production, and we have committed to encourage one another that we’ll all achieve MDRT by the end of this year. When we first started our group, we only wanted to do it for a month, but we’ve continued meeting. In this group, we feel that we are solid and encouraging one another, and now we have a clearer path to the MDRT target that once seemed too far out of reach. We hope our friendship lasts long and that we continue meeting regularly.

Miliana Marten, AEPP, Jakarta, Indonesia, 14-year MDRT member

Embracing technology

During the pandemic, my company informed us that all sales advisory activities would take place online. Suddenly, there were no more face-to-face meetings with clients, as we were restricted to Zoom video calls. As a nontech-savvy person, I was worried about how I would navigate such a big change, but I learned a number of new skills, like PDF e-signing and document sharing during video conference calls, among others. It was tough, but I embraced the change, and to my surprise I ended up achieving Court of the Table in 2020, along with the MDRT Quarter Century Club. I achieved my second year of Court of the Table in 2021. I never imagined that I would be able to incorporate technology in my services so successfully, and I continue doing so moving forward.

Catherine Chee Keng Lian, FChFP, MBA, Singapore, 27-year MDRT member

Meet me at the office

Years ago, when I had problems with my hips and couldn’t drive, I stopped seeing clients in their homes and started inviting them into the office for meetings. It saves so much time and is much more professional, so we continued the practice, and now we rarely go out to see clients.

Sarah Helen Hogan, ACII, Leigh, England, UK, seven-year MDRT member

Virtual happy hour

During COVID, we held video meetups we call Commentaries, which started out as a happy hour twice a week. We invited clients, prospects, attorneys, CPAs, trustees of retirement plans and so on, and they were well attended. The meetings started by just doing fun and entertaining things like sharing cocktail recipes. Then we moved to providing education and information as we learned more about COVID and especially about things like government subsidy programs. We eventually moved them to once a quarter, which is what we’ve continued to do, and we still get great attendance. Now they’re focused on what’s going on in the marketplace, the economy, what we are doing, how we are handling it in terms of the portfolios and so on. They forced me to not only pay attention, but to share my thoughts and opinions. Then we give time for Q&A, which I think people really like.

John P. Enright, Syracuse, New York, USA, 24-year MDRT member

Leveraging artificial intelligence

I participated in a committee meeting at MDRT headquarters and heard a lot about artificial intelligence. Prior to that, I never really took the time to get more information about it. Then some people on my team suggested I try using ChatGPT. I’ve actually used it a lot since then for things like developing content. I don’t just pull things from ChatGPT, but I use it as a guide to help find new efficiencies in my business. I use it more like a search engine to help trigger ideas I had not considered. It enables me to expand on various topics and concepts to build on and dissect. It’s definitely something I’m keeping permanently.

Risha Baddaloo, BSc, LUTCF, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, 12-year MDRT member 

Create a health check

During the pandemic, I was on a journey to find out how I could improve my practice and client servicing skills. I started sending my clients feedback forms after each meeting so I could identify areas to improve, my unique selling point and their overall satisfaction rate. This form was meant to be a short-term health check for my practice, but I soon realized that my clients’ comments about me can have a positive impact on my practice in the long term. I began to spend more time on this feedback system, built a website and filled it with client testimonials, so prospects can conduct their own reference checks on my experience as a financial advisor before meeting me. Since I started this feedback system, my referral rates have also increased significantly. 

Karyl Phua, Singapore, three-year MDRT member

Since I started this feedback system, my referral rates have also increased significantly.
— Karyl Phua

Clutter-free to reduce anxiety

As someone living with generalized anxiety disorder, having a clean and clutter-free space is one of the healthy habits that I first tried to ease my anxiety, and eventually, it significantly helped me personally and professionally. To others, cleaning may sound funny and straightforward, but it has helped reduce my anxiety and enabled me to think more clearly, as I can be more organized in my space and my daily agenda.

It’s a habit that I started temporarily upon the recommendation of Aileen Xu, founder of Lavendaire, a content creator about personal growth and lifestyle design who I follow. She mentions that the current state of our living and digital space can indicate the quality of our minds. When your space is clean, it becomes easier to think more mindfully and clearly, which will help us feel less overwhelmed, make better decisions, and show up as our best and brightest selves at work.

Spending 10 to 20 minutes a day putting everyday items away and removing items we do not need from our field of vision can make it easier for our brains to process the information in front of us, which can be helpful while working from home. Also, let’s not forget to clean our digital space like unfollowing social media accounts, unsubscribing from emails that don’t serve you and taking time to organize your files.

Manuel Antonio T. Paderanga, Pasay City, Philippines, one-year MDRT member

Online policy reviews for the win

During the pandemic when in-person meetings were restricted, I started conversations and policy reviews via email. The approach was unconventional, and I thought temporary, but it allowed me to stay connected with clients and address their needs. I was able to specifically focus on cases involving changes in income, job transitions, marriage, new additions to the family or updates in beneficiaries. By doing these reviews by email, I was able to meticulously cover all relevant scenarios, scrutinize existing investments and insurance coverages and ensure that each aspect was considered comprehensively.

The results led to additional business opportunities. The thoroughness and attention to detail through this email process not only addressed the changes in clients’ circumstances but also uncovered opportunities for further financial planning and protection. Even though we are now back to face-to-face meetings, I still conduct email policy reviews. The diligence resulting from these reviews enhances overall business signups and solidifies client engagement.

Seema Nair, Mumbai, India, 10-year MDRT member