Why Information Sharing is Critical for Client-Facing Teams
Today’s post is by Joseph D. Kringdon, Principal, Kringdon & Associates/HMC.
Have you ever eaten at the Cheesecake Factory? The restaurant’s 21-page menu lists more than 250 items. It’s huge! Many people get stuck turning page after page, trying to find an entree. A good waiter can make all the difference by asking what you like and helping you find the best things. Most people will reward them with a nice tip for streamlining and customizing the ordering process.
The world of financial services can seem similarly overwhelming for the average investor. I’ve always maintained: the more choices, the more confusion. Studies have shown that when people have a myriad of choices, they’re quickly overwhelmed and either defer decisions or make none. The same cohort, given a choice between two or three items, is typically quick to decide. The people who work hard to accumulate wealth don’t have time to wade through all the options. They also don’t know who to trust.
My peers, who are coming up on retirement, often ask me for advice or referrals to advisors. More likely than not, they have an advisor. However, they say something like, “I don’t know that my advisor can really help me. They seem to be doing things the way we did them 10 to 20 years ago. They’re not looking at my situation holistically. I need someone who can help me get organized and view things from a broader perspective.”
Bottom line, in a world where we have multiple options for everything from investing to dining out, people need good advice. Financial advisors are in the business of providing advice and direction. The most important asset that an advisor can harbor is not information, but intelligence—intelligence that provides perspective and maps to a plan of action.
Advancing from Information to Wisdom
Information is ubiquitous, especially in today’s world where information flashes around the web and into the social ecosystem in a nanosecond. In the past, whoever captured and shared information first had an advantage. But, technology has socialized and democratized information.
Anyone who studied psychology may remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In 1943, Maslow postulated that human beings could not reach self actualization and command higher intellectual pursuits unless we satisfied basic human needs such as food, shelter, safety, etc. Personal growth and motivation grow stronger as one secures the basics. In a similar way (allow me some latitude here), advisors’ value to their intended audience grows as they progress through a similar pyramid of ‘higher realization’.
There are three tiers to this pyramid. Information is the base—everyone has it, can read it, use and share it. However, as one becomes adroit at seeing the significance of this information, we move into the realm of knowledge, the second tier. At this level, we not only have information, but can assign some meaning to it and provide some direction. Add experience at the next level, and now the knowledge is accompanied by insight created in the crucible of trial, error and passing time.
The pinnacle of this hierarchy is wisdom. At this tier, information has advanced to knowledge, sifted through the lens of experience, and distilled as wisdom. At this stage, those providing advice can distinguish themselves. Wisdom allows their intended audience to see what may lie around the corner, and feel some comfort that they are dealing with someone who can navigate the challenges ahead.
Sharing Investment Acumen
How does one accelerate the movement up the pyramid from the base of information to the summit of wisdom? The passage of time is an element. But a bigger factor is how information, knowledge and experience are shared. Ideally, wisdom is shared as a team, so that client-facing talent can stand on the shoulders of the accumulated intellectual capital of others in their organization.
With this wisdom, they can be better informed and alert to the opportunities and challenges their intended audience may face. Remember, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” While history doesn’t necessarily repeat, it does rhyme from time to time.
When I was starting my career, I went to many meetings and took lots of notes. That ‘s how I acquired and retained knowledge and, with experience and the passing of time, I like to think I gained some wisdom. I also took advantage of mentors in the office and learned from their mistakes. One gentleman took me under his wing. He had a big notebook on his desk that he wrote in nearly every day. He said, “This is my ‘M’ book. When I make a mistake, I write down what I did and what I could have done better so I won’t repeat that mistake.”
It’s important to acquire knowledge over the years and to pass it on. Today we have technology that enables information sharing and much more. This is how a sales readiness platform such as Allego can help—by transmitting, transferring and teaching others in short palatable lessons.
Successful financial advisors are constantly absorbing more information. Using a video-based collaboration tool is one way to help client-facing teams advance from information to wisdom. You can figuratively curate the “Cheesecake Factory menu” of information for your client-facing teams and allow them to sharpen their focus to knowledge. With on-going practice and reinforcement, the daily specials—catalogued, curated and absorbed in the moment of need—become pearls of wisdom.
About Joseph D. Kringdon
Joe Kringdon, Principal, Kringdon & Associates/HMC, spent several decades in the Wealth and Asset Management business, managing and leading both advisors and wholesaler investment consultants.
In our on-demand webinar, financial services veteran Joe Kringdon discusses the importance of arming advisors with timely talking points: “Something to Talk About” – How Agile Learning Powers Trusted Conversations for Wholesalers and Advisors.