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Adaptability is your superpower

12 September 2019 Jonathan Faurie
Johan Minnie

Johan Minnie

Among the many hats that financial advisers are supposed to wear, they are expected to be a beacon of hope during troublesome times.They need to remain optimistic for clients and encourage them to look forward to continuing to make financial sacrifices while saving for retirement. After all, it’s not about how you start the journey, it’s the steps you take towards the final destination.

Advisers have heard this rhetoric before and are quick to rightly point out that the state of the South African economy does cause clients to panic. And rightly so, who wouldn’t panic during these times? What advisers need to remember though is that the flip side of adversity is opportunity. And despite South Africa’s challenges, opportunity can be found in the market. 

Stay the course

At the recently held inaugural Liberty Investment Conference, Johan Minnie, Group Executive: Client and Adviser Experience at Liberty, encouraged advisers to rally behind their clients and to stay the course. Their advice is a crucial value proposition during these tough times. 

“I deal with many advisers daily, and they all tell me the same thing. Their clients love this country but there are a lot of questions regarding the country’s investment horizon both from a consumer perspective and from a foreign investment perspective. We are not diminishing this, there are a lot of questions. We need to encourage patience because these questions will eventually be answered,” said Minnie. 

He added that when there are a lot of questions regarding the investment case for South Africa, uncertainty is created. This is not good for investment. 

“This is an environment advisers thrive in,” said Minnie, “they can look at the investment case from an unemotional perspective and can ask clients the hard questions about what they are willing to risk (or not risk) in order to get a specific return,” said Minnie. 

We are not in Kansas anymore

After being swept up in a storm and transported to another world, one of the most iconic quotes from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz is when Dorothy turns to Toto and said “were not in Kansas anymore.” 

Disruption in the financial services sector has been so intense that advisers are facing a whole new world of their own where the rules that applied in the past are no longer relevant. 

“We exist in a transition phase,” bestselling author John Sanei said addressing the conference, “there is upheaval everywhere you turn and structures that advisers used to trust in the past are imploding around them. These are scary times.” 

He added that advisers should not despair. “If advisers are geared towards innovation, they will prosper. However, they need to be careful where they innovate and how they innovate. Many companies are stuck in innovation loops and cannot get out of them. Nokia was one of the top mobile phone producers in the world. They lost 70% of their value in a very short space of time because of Apple and Samsung’s innovation of the smartphone. Nokia didn’t do anything wrong, except let innovation get ahead of them while they were stuck in a loop,” said Sanei. 

Turn towards your superpower

When it comes to dealing with disruption, Sanei pointed out that adaptability can be an adviser’s superpower. 

“Advisers need to be aware of the fact that there are a lot of competitors in the industry who have the skills that every other adviser has, they just have the ability to do it better. Relevance in this transition phase is key. Do not lose it,” said Sanei. 

In order to do this, advisers need to unlearn everything that they thought they knew about investing and relearn it within the reference of understanding their clients state of mind and needs. Clients want to be front and center now more than ever before. 

“Clients are very impatient. They want an adviser to promise value and deliver it almost instantaneously. This poses a very serious problem, how do advisers do this? Deliver advice differently; focus on impact before profit,” said Sanei. 

Break down barriers

While there is a lot of opportunity for optimism, it can become difficult to motivate clients to share this positivity when all that they hear is about the challenges they face. 

The other challenge that advisers face is that clients are becoming more knowledgeable about investing. This is a challenge because their knowledge cannot be applied within the context of the risks that they face. “Insight is the number one thing that is stopping people from planning for the future. Some people have all of knowledge in the world but do not have any wisdom,” said Sanei. This leads to analysis paralysis. 

Advisers need to be both knowledgeable and wise. They need to sell both the journey as well as the destination. 

Remember who you are

Minnie said that advisers need to remember what inspired them to become advisers in the first place and capitalize on that. 

“Remember the humanity that you exude. Clients want to be able to look their adviser in the eye and believe in them. Believe that despite all of their challenges, they will be ok provided that they listen to their adviser. Advisers need to leave a legacy,” said Minnie. 

Editor’s Thoughts:
There is opportunity in South Africa if it is sought in the correct places. Minnie encourages advisers to listen carefully because sometimes opportunity knocks very quietly. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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