In my 24 years in financial services, I have never seen times like this. Times of scandal, times of change, times of silence from a normally loud industry, and times of fear from what is yet to be uncovered.
This Royal Commission has shaken our industry to the core, shocked many of us who had no idea of what was bubbling under the surface, and struck fear into the hearts of executives who have been left holding the bag of issues that were created well before their time.
After months of watching this roll out, I find today that the thing I am spending most of my time reflecting upon is what it's going to be like next. We’ve all accepted that until that report is published in February 2019, it's going to be a keep-your-head-down-and-get-on-with-it environment. But what will happen post that report?
There’s going to be a lot of strategic meetings to decide what to do next. For how long? My guess is at least two-three years of them. Businesses this big, with so much infrastructure and legacy implications, mean serious change is going to take some time to roll out. After two or three years I believe we will start to see the actions come into play that have been caused by the findings of today.
For advisers, my prediction is that those of you who are secure in your educational requirements and business model are going to get real busy rebuilding your reputation. You have to. The findings of actions of the few have tarred the brush of the many. But the good news here is, there are many, many great communicators among you. I only have to look around social to see blogs, tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates to see how many advisers have a strong grasp of how important consistent and reassuring communication is. But we need more.
More advisers speaking up. More advisers using their own precious time to create blogs, newsletters, social posts and events to talk to people about how important financial planning is to their long term future. And this is a time commitment - make no mistake about it. This I can talk about with authority, because I am someone who has worked consistently and quite frankly, damn hard to get my message into the public.
I've had a lot of people comment recently about my presence in the media - how it's a great advantage and how powerful it is. And believe me, it's no accident.
Right now, I’m writing this on a Sunday with my nine year old next to me. I will spend at least 10 hours this working week creating communications that I don’t get paid for to reach the public with a message of how important financial advice and investing is to their lives.
I wrote a book on the subject and worked hard for a publishing deal to get the message out there in a different way, and believe me when I tell you there’s no money in book writing!
I do this for a reason. Because I cannot accept a future where 80 per cent of my generation fall short of a comfortable retirement. I can’t see so many of my friends live an old age where they need to rely on their children - or even worse for those that don’t have that option, who will live a life where the smallest of pleasures is denied. Our generation is not conditioned to cope with that in our old age. We have seen no war, held down well paying jobs and been on overseas trips with our kids more than any generation before us. But we don’t have the safety net of a government pension and a property that has made massive gains we can sell, as our parents before us did. And most of us have not woken up to this fact.
Advisers, believe me when I say, you are needed more than ever. Your message is one that will take 20 years to play out, but could save the face of this nation as we know it. And I’m not exaggerating. It's true.
Fund managers. We need you too. Put to one side the need to promote your own brand, and start talking about your skill sets in a way people can understand. You are brilliant. But you are also hard for the average person to relate to. Push your marketing teams to do things differently. Stop spending your budgets the same way - if I see another inane trade press ad or sponsorship I think I am going to scream. YOU NEED TO BE DIFFERENT!
Is this easy? Of course not. If it was we would already be doing it. But I can tell you confidently (as I have had it measured) that my messages have been consumed more than 21 million times in the last nine months alone. Just little old me. So what if I had all of you doing the same thing? Consistently? It may just be possible that we can really drive home the message of people having a plan and committing to it, that succeeds in saving the last 20 years of people's lives from counting every penny. We won't save everyone. But we can save many.
So think about what you can do to change how you communicate, and invest more time and energy into it next year. I’m happy to host some breakfast learning sessions at my office once a month to share ideas at no charge (just buy your own coffee!). I know how hard this is, so the more of you I can share my learnings with the better. Click here if you are interested in coming.
Big job ahead, my most valued community. I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you in the trenches.
Until next time,
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Every day I talk to people in our industry who are under intense pressur....