Just say no and success will follow, Pt. 1

By Steven McCarty

The National Ethics Association


Watch out for the word "yes." Saying yes too often can lead you to spend too much money, grow too fast or take too many financial risks. It can even ensnare you in unethical or illegal business practices that get you thrown out of the business -- or worse.

It's easy to see why so many advisors become yes-men and yes-women. In fact, our culture encourages it. It promotes wanting more than we have and saying yes to stuff we can't afford. It hypes super-sized food portions and big SUVs, even though our stomachs, budget and the environment are crying no.

Well, it's time to say no to yes and, in doing so, rediscover the best in ourselves. By just saying no, you force yourself to focus on only those activities that drive your business forward.

By just saying no, you eliminate distractions and become more efficient. Finally, by just saying no, you avoid ethical lapses that can ruin your reputation and prevent you from becoming an advisor others seek to emulate.

OK, saying no is all well and good, but to what exactly should we, as producers, be saying no? Here are three specific examples:

First, say no to broker-driven rather than client-driven products. We all know which products those are. They are the ones that ramp up commissions and ramp down benefits; products which companies singularly promote with vacation junkets and other pricey merchandise. The more financial services companies offer you treats to sell a product, the less likely the product will be truly great for your clients.

Second, say no to bad FMOs. These are the marketing organizations that blindly push high-commission, high-expense products, burn through producers as quickly as a wildfire in southern California and wink at unethical business practices. For these FMOs, the goals of taking on any advisor, regardless of background, and mandating one-size-fits-all sales tactics trumps everything, including giving responsible advice or remaining in compliance with current regulations.

Third, say no to prospects who fall outside your ideal target niche. According to top IRA educator Mike Reese of Centennial Wealth Advisory, one of the biggest single mistakes you can make is taking on a client with the wrong demographics and psychographics. Doing so will often lead you to inadvertently giving the wrong advice and shirking on service, which leads to dissatisfied clients, formal complaints and marks on your record.

In each of these cases, saying no is a powerful way to differentiate you from the crowd. It's also a key way to become really great at what you do and find tremendous joy in doing it (more on that topic next month). Let's face it: Does anyone really like a yes-person? Not someone looking for a financial advisor who runs with the best.