Sales target woes prompts planner to quit

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Becoming frustrated with a remuneration structure that encouraged selling products just to meet a sales target prompted one financial planner, Mark Milner, to give up his career for the hospitality industry.  

Milner had worked for large banks and boutique firms and said while he enjoyed interacting with clients, he became increasingly frustrated by a “sales culture” and disillusioned with employers who “blatantly” advertised for financial planners who could bring a book of clients with them.

This frustration led to a career break and he successfully owned and managed a Brisbane restaurant and bar for several years.

However, the urge to return to his true love – financial planning – remained strong, and Milner weighed up opportunities to kick-start his career again. 

Milner, who recently won the AFP Best Practice award, now works as a senior financial planner at Tupicoffs and is responsible for managing mostly high net wealth clients on an ongoing basis.

Winning the award was recognition of 10 years of hard work, but prizes do not drive him. 

“Although it is easy to measure career success in terms of awards, the real reward is seeing the positive difference that is made in the lives of my clients. It is this sense of personal satisfaction in a ‘job well done’ that remains my greatest motivation for ongoing success,” he says.

Striving for better education and skills has been a constant motivator for Milner, who is currently working towards his CFP designation. 

He believes an ongoing commitment to learning is the key to the financial planning industry becoming recognised professionally, socially and commercially.

“I have seen the financial planning industry change dramatically over the last 10 years as it heads towards becoming more widely accepted as a profession…[but the industry] still faces the challenge of raising its profile in the community.

“The move towards increasing minimum standards of education for financial planners needs to become even more of a priority if financial planners wish to hold ourselves up against other respected professions,” says Milner.

“The advice we provide is often life changing for our clients, and they should expect the highest standards.”

Mark Milner’s hot tips for planners:
  • New clients are often uneasy at first meeting as they have preconceived ideas of what to expect from a financial planner. Often, the focus will be on the immediate problem for the client, or collecting information from the client for the planner. However, spending the extra time to build empathy will pay big dividends for a stronger relationship between the planner and client
  • Most financial planners are aware that open-ended questions will provide an opportunity to gain a good understanding of ‘what makes a client tick’ beyond a simple yes or no.  But listening to the responses, and looking for further clarification to find out the ‘why’ behind thinking will often lead to further understanding of a client’s situation
  • Of course, it takes practice to learn when further questioning is appropriate, but with an empathetic ear, a greater sense of trust an understanding can be gained with the client to achieve result.