MDRT Annual Meeting 2017

How to Deliver an Irreplaceable Advice Proposition

A US adviser has developed a business model that he says makes his advice proposition irreplaceable to his clients.

'Irreplaceable' adviser and business-owner, Taylor Sledge Jr.

‘Irreplaceable’ adviser and business-owner, Taylor Sledge Jr.

Presenting to his peers at the 2017 MDRT Anual Meeting in Orlando, Mississippi adviser, Taylor Sledge (Sledge & Company), said the foundation on which he has built his highly-successful business model had its origins in a fundamental change in his attitude towards his business.

…his approach chnaged from being a salesperson selling a product to a business owner serving relationships

Speaking of his early encounter with an experienced MDRT adviser member and the lessons he learned in attending his first MDRT Annual Meeting, Sledge said his approach chnaged from being a salesperson selling a product to a business owner serving relationships.

Armed with this changed perspective, Sledge sought out and interviewed the most successful advisers in the US and shared with his audience his key learnings from those interviews, which helped shape his business. He said the most critical common threads he found in these successful advice businesses were:.

  • Mindset: They are entrepreneurs first, financial people second
  • Focus: They put 100 percent behind their ability to make revenue their personal drive
  • Business model: They all run a corporation, and they delegate all weaknesses
  • Client approach: They know that products are never the solution; serving relationships comes first

These common threads helped inform Sledge in how he needed to develop his revised business process. His process addressed these issues:

No one cares what the offering is unless the problem is being solved
  • What do people really want and need? They want to be understood.
  • Understanding the end better than the beginning
  • The product, or the investment return, is meaningless without proof of accomplishing a goal. No one cares what the offering is unless the problem is being solved.
  • Understanding structure before product
  • Realising that the solution trumps all ideas, every time
  • Meeting an emotional need
  • Finding that “sales” has no place in “finance”
  • Knowing that thinking of sales/selling should live within the relationship realm, not the financial one.
  • Proving our information on paper, making the math work

In encapsulating what he referred to as the single common thread of the best of the best, Sledge said that “…to be great in business is not to add value but to be valuable.”

He added that being a great adviser and having a great advice busuness is “…to build a business model that does not just efficiently offer a product, but becomes an irreplaceable part of the client’s life.” he added that advisrs can multiply their production with this simple mindset.

Sledge continued, “Never commoditise your business. Never see yourself as a seller of a product. Always position yourself in a manner that you can truly understand the client and serve the best purpose. So how have we done it? We have built a model around being irreplaceable.”

Sledge said his business mission statement reads:

“Our mission is to be the premier financial services team in our region, being known for working for our clients with integrity and honesty at the forefront. We are a business that thrives on the success of the people that we care for the most.”

His added his basic planning goals are:

Ask: We do our best to ask our clients the right questions, and to bring clarity to their current situation.

Listen: We listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas. One thing is for sure: No two clients are the same. We focus on the unique issues you want to consider.

Create: We work with you to create a plan that considers your needs and makes sense to you. This is your unique plan; we want you to understand and appreciate it.

Sledge advocated to his peers that they should create a way to explain their business model to their clients:

“We use a cycle of operations, and we explain each step in the beginning to the client. Our cycle of operations is:

  • Initial meeting
  • Considerations and data collection
  • Discovery
  • Design
  • Recommendation (draft/final)
  • Plan implementation
  • Periodic plan review

“Next, have a team. In the financial world, many people claim to be a jack-of-all-trades. In my experience, people in that realm are also a master of none. Thus, we have a team approach. Every member of the team is a professional, and every member has a place where he or she interacts directly with the client and works through the plan we are building,” said Sledge.

He said advisers and their processes should address human needs first and financial needs second.

It means building a business modeled not around you, but around understanding your clients…

Summarising what it means to be valuable, Sledge said it means putting others first: “It means building a business modeled not around you, but around understanding your clients. It means creating something that shows them they are understood. Giving your clients exactly what they need and want, and meeting an emotional need that follows through with a financial solution results in a massively productive, sustainable, and irreplaceable business.”

Sledge ended by challenging his audience of peers:

The question to ask yourself is, ‘Am I irreplaceable to my clients?’