My advice to the “Investment advisors”

Posted on April 29, 2010

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In all my earlier blogs, I might have sounded like an anti-insurance or anti-agent person. But trust me friends, I fully respect the fact that the “investment agents” or “investment advisors” are as much the citizens of this country and have the right to earn to their potential.

What I am against is the “mis-selling” which is detrimental to the financial industry as a whole. If I say that the investment advisors have a right to earn their bread, I would also say that they have no right to do it by cheating the investor or selling him a product not suiting to his demand.

So what should the advisors be doing then ? My article below might prove to be of some use to you for how you can continue doing a sustainable business without compromising on ethics.

Talking about first things first, the biggest problem is the mindset of both viz., the Indian Investors and the agents. The investors are not happy paying “Fees” and the reason for the same is the “hidden commission” model being followed in this country since decades. The mindset of the investors has become such that they don’t like the agent charging them fees. On the contrary, they feel it to be their right to claim a rebate from the agent (even if he sells him a wrong product). The financial industry could grow only with the change in this mindset of the investors.

This does not mean that the advisors fraternity is totally innocent. They themselves are largely responsible for this repulsive mindset of the investors. Attracting investors through rebates, selling them wrong products for own interests are some serious mistakes done by the “Agents” or “Advisors”.

Lets all act sensible and only then the financial markets can grow as a whole. Below are a few points you may follow to grow your business:

1. Be your client’s man

If you expect the clients to pay you a “Fees” for the services provided by you, first and foremost, become a client’s man. Understand his needs, and then provide him advice and services accordingly. Do not advise a client for a product just because it fetches you fat commissions. Also, do not stop or misguide him for a product which is in his interest but does gives you no commissions / low commissions. In simple words, change your mindset to “Client’s interest first”.

2. Stop being a Product Salesperson

I have observed that many advisors, when they are on their way to the client’s place, have already decided on which product they want to “Sell” to the client. Eventually, what happens is, if the client needs are different or the client asks about some other product, they do not have an answer. And thus, they start convincing the client that the product they are suggesting is the best for him. This is not any different than being a salesperson instead of being an advisor.

Rather, have a detailed study of all the products and suggest him what suits him the best.

3. Stop Being too Pushy

The key word here is “too”. My advisor friends would argue saying that if we are not pushy then how will we get business.

My dear friends, fair deals would happen only if there is a need at both the ends. Taking an example, a shepherd feeds the cow so that he can milk it later, but the cow eats because it is hungry and not because it should be able to give milk to the shepherd. Similarly, you reach out to the clients for your business, but the client would invest only when he would have a investible surplus and he thinks you are giving him the right advise. In some cases, he would also like to take a second opinion. So by being too pushy, many a times, you might annoy the client so much that you lose the business from him altogether. (I know these techniques might have work all these years in the month of March, but if you go back and ask those clients, they are still cursing their agents for selling them a wrong product).

4. Provide Periodic updates

It is always a good idea to provide periodic updates to the clients about the current status of his investments. But for doing this, you will have to follow the above three points very very religiously. Coz if you have sold him a product like ULIP, wherein even if you provide him periodic updates, all that he can see is a erosion of his capital (in spite of the markets doing well). In such case, you are more likely to get a closed door on your nose, rather than more business.

Whereas, if you have advised him a right plan with right products, you can confidently approach him with the updates saying, “Sir, we had invested X amount, and in an year’s time it has grown by Y% (whatever the return be)”. The client will not only be happy hearing this, he might also ask about the next opportunities for investment

5. Educate the Clients

Many advisors feel that educating clients about the investments could prove detrimental to their business. But this would happen if you are not working towards enhancing your own knowledge. The idea is to keep enhancing your own knowledge and also educate the investor about recent happenings in the economy and the changes that needs to be taken in his investments. The biggest benefit of this is

a] He will not have unrealistic return expectations from his investments

b] He will be patient in case of markets moving otherwise.

If you do not educate him, the client might get an impression that you have cheated him and you will lose his trust.

6. Respect the knowledge of the clients

There are investors who believe in doing their own research, in addition to the one done by the advisors. There are some who are tech-savvy and believe that they have sufficient time and expertise to pick up the right investment for themselves. Advisors need to have due respect for the same and not expect every investor to give them some business. The good news for the advisors is, there is still a huge population which does not have the time or expertise or both for doing investments on their own. The advisors can cater to this huge market instead of blaming the small chunk who want to do it themselves.

Trust me friends, if you start following these steps and start acting in client’s interest, your clients will automatically develop trust in you and will not mind paying you a fees. Expecting them to pay you a fees merely for filling up, pick-up and submission of forms is definitely not rational (my personal opinion).

I welcome your feedback and comments on the above article. Please feel free to contact  on saurabh.nidhiinvestments@gmail.com if you have any questions.

(The views mentioned in the article are personal opinion of the author. The readers are advised to use their own judgement and consult their investment advisor before making any investment decisions.)

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