“The secret of acting is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made” – George Burns.
Financial advisers make money by selling ‘trust’, by being ‘believable’, through having ‘integrity’. Of course, if you can fake that, you’ll make a lot of money. Well, for a short time anyway.
Financial advisers sell financial promises. Not a promise that everyone will be a ‘winner’ but a promise that a client will get appropriate, unbiased, fair, added-value financial advice. What you ‘sell’ is intangible. So, from the client’s perspective, if what you are selling is broken, they will not find out for perhaps a few years… that’s hardly fair but that’s the way it is!
I do not like to come over all ‘preachy’, but there is no other way to express the importance of our ‘duty’ to clients: as a Financial Adviser, you bear a substantial responsibility when advising clients.
You have a duty of care to provide them with an accurate analysis of their needs, and the most appropriate solution to their financial requirements. You must have the integrity of purpose to deliver this or you will have failed your clients. This is a duty not a choice.
But to be successful at selling requires more than integrity in your dealings with clients alone. Integrity needs to be present in your dealings with your colleagues and managers too. It also needs to be there in your dealings with the real boss: yourself.
To be honest with yourself, especially if things are not quite going your way, is not easy. From time to time things go off-track. This is where we like to seek out a scapegoat to heap the blame on. It could be your manager, your company, your training, your products, the economy, the weather, or whatever … But we have already seen that selling in a numbers game, so why seek out a scapegoat when then real problems can be solved by looking internally and honestly at your personal performance.
Every problem is a challenge dressed up. And every challenge will have a series of potential solutions. You just have to be prepared to work on identify those potential solutions; to select the most appropriate one; and to then implement it. This is working with true integrity.
So, while you may be able to fake sincerity, you cannot fake integrity. And never underestimate its value. Once lost – whether with clients or friends – it cannot be re-found.
Here’s a final thought: Integrity is like virginity, you can only lose it once.
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