One of the most powerful tools in business is the ability to say yes, to please your client base. But Jason Back, managing director of Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC), says that sometimes ‘no’ can be just as powerful.
After winning the AMA Australia’s Top Broker award for the past few years, Back and his co-director Mark Davis say that one of their reasons for success is the ability to make their clients come to them.
“We don’t go see clients,” says Davis. “If a client thinks you’re important enough, they come see you. You build up the client’s mind-set that they have to come and see you. We set the expectation that, ‘this is a planning process, Mark’s diary is full and there is a wait-time’.”
Back says that this can apply to the whole financial services profession, including planners. “The finance industry needs to get a degree of self-worth,” he says. “We’re not door-to-door salesmen, we do need to recognise the skills and the value that we add to our clients and that means meeting in place like an office space can be much more beneficial for the client experience.”
The time spent on call-outs, and even sending out information, takes away from valuable client engagement time, says Back. Initial client conversations can go on for a few hours, and there may be more than one meeting, so it is important to be in an environment that generates great ideas, allows free discussion and holds the client’s attention.
A big part of this is also choosing the right clients, says Davis. “We look for clients that have an investment belief, clients that have an appetite to borrow... We don’t want to deal with rate shoppers. We won’t even talk about rates in the first hour-and-a-half meeting. It’s really just getting specific clients who really value progression.”
The firm does have a dedicated team to visit those transactional clients that require it, but it is the ability to say no to call-outs that has allowed Davis to provide the volume and level of service that saw him crack $500m in loans written.
The team is also particular about who they deal with professionally. They leave asset allocation and planning up to the specialists, but will not work with bank-aligned advisers, or those with less than 20 years’ experience. Back says that it is important to find advisers that are not looking for product sales, so that the client can pay for a great conversation without feeling like they have to buy a product. “They’re the type of advisers we’re going to be linking into and our clients are happy to pay for their advice.”
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