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Finding the Answer and Giving Knowledge

By Mike McGlothlin, CFP, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF - May 29, 2019

Lately I’ve been listening, watching, and communicating with experts who specialize in hiring and managing millennials. It’s clear that this new generation of financial planner is operating with different metrics and definitions of success than the one that came before. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s wrong – it’s just different. I was blown away by the level of professionalism at the Financial Service Professionals Industry Issues Competition. Five universities competed this year, and it was clear that the new generation of advisors is as committed to the principles of integrity, preparedness and accountability as the generation that came before. One young person recently posted a video of her thoughts about the value of education versus experience. She made a great point: college teaches you how to find the answer, but experience gives you the deeper knowledge.

The same can be said for our industry, too – particularly as it applies to both generational differences and to technology. A mentor once told me, “The internet is a great place to get information, but it’s a terrible place to sell.”

While financial products are almost purely digital today, the web may not be the best place to educate and advise people on complex problems – including retirement. In the age of social media and soundbites, the internet isn’t known for being conducive to nuance. Still, it remains the easiest place to get information. How you use and filter that information marks the difference between success and failure in financial planning.

Clients depend on knowledge, not piles of data. Don’t just settle for an answer. You need to find the knowledge behind the answer that can be conveyed to the client. What technology can’t deliver – and you can – is expertise: the ability to use the information wisely, properly, confidently, and in the best interest of the client. That is what separates the financial professional from technology: human connectivity.

We tend to pacify our clients with information too often. They can find that information now, on their own. Instead of spreadsheets, statistics, fund returns and portfolio allocations, we can help them find the answers that make the most sense of the information. What they need is a person to guide them through the maze of data to formulate the best strategy for success. Think about concentrating on delivering value in the form of knowledge and expertise, not just information and data.

Winning Strategies: Your client can – and will – find a lot of information just as quickly and reliably as you can. As planners, we need to shift our focus towards using information to convey our knowledge and expertise rather than just providing data.

About the Author 

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at www.freethrowsforpros.com.