Be Disruptive, Not Disrupted with the Fab Four
How value is perceived by the investor has changed dramatically. Are you meeting the unstated needs of your clients by applying disruptive methods to provide a tremendous client experience?
Learn the fabulous four disruptive methods to provide a tremendous client experience in an exclusive interview hosted by John Evans Jr., Ed.D, Executive Director of Knowledge Labs™, with client experience expert for Registered Investment Advisors Anand Sekhar from Fidelity.
Be Disruptive, Not Disrupted with the Fab Four
John L. Evans Jr., Ed.D.
- How are you leveraging digital technology, which is your DQ or digital quotient?
- We know that investors view their advisors as a source of intelligence, so IQ remains important.
- How would you rate your EQ or emotional intelligence? Are you asking a different set of questions in a humble way?
- What is your sustainability quotient? How are you thinking about your and your firm’s ability to be sustainable as a multi-generational business?
John Evans: Hello and welcome. I’m Dr. John Evans. I’m with Knowledge. Shared, Janus Henderson Labs, and we have a very distinguished guest today, Anand Sekhar has been with Fidelity for 15 years. He is an expert in client experience for registered investment advisors and their clients. And today, we’re going to talk about sharing some knowledge about how to get your team catalyzed to deliver a tremendous client experience. We’re not after a good client experience, we’re not after a really good client experience, and we’re after a tremendous client experience that can be scaled, right, that’s going to get your team talked about. Bonnie Raitt sings the song, Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About. Anand, let’s give them something to talk about. You have four points you’d like to make when it comes to energizing your team, about doing this, about creating a tremendous client experience. Please expand.
Anand Sekhar: Yes, of course. Thanks, John, for being here, and it’s a privilege to have this opportunity to talk with you and have this conversation that we’re quite passionate about. So when I think about really how advisors have engaged with investors, if we rewind back 30 years ago, historically, that may have been in a broker and investor relationship. And if I think about that contextually, investor might come to a broker and might have said, “Help me pick a stock.” And we know that that has evolved from the simple question to much more complicated questions that advisors and investors have today on a day-to day-basis. Through that evolution, as you think about how value is perceived by the investor, that’s changed dramatically.
Sekhar: Historically, right, the investor would say that one question, how to pick stock, has evolved to much more complicated things like planning, how to think about estate plan and trust, charitable planning, so on and so forth. We believe that the value equation has shifted so much now where it’s also being asked, “Are you helping me think beyond that, providing me peace of mind? Are you helping me have conversations around the values that I want to impart to my kids, not just about the estate plan on how the taxes and also the money is transferred?” It’s really about the values versus valuables. That’s a very different type of conversation.
Evans: Yes, and that leads me to a theme of our discussion… here is a central question, I had the great fortune of being in Shanghai recently, and I shared the stage with Salim Ismail, and he wrote Exponential Organizations, and we got to visit afterwards, and you know, you know what he did, Anand? As I told you, he actually poked me in the forehead, and he said, “Are you disruptive with your clients or are you being disrupted?” I mean, we can’t take five steps in the industry in this day and age without talking about disruption, so let’s take it on headlong. How do your four points here, how do they help your clients and your client’s clients disrupt as opposed to being disrupted?
Sekhar: That’s right, if you stood still and decided to interact with your clients in that, just investment management, you would be being disrupted, because I think there’s new players out there that they’re evolving, and I think the four areas that we’re finding that the new entrants and the ones that are doing it well, that are evolving, are these four areas.
The first is DQ, digital quotient. How are you using technology to enable that? That’s the first one. The second one is IQ, your intelligence. We’ve always known that advisors have been good at that, and investors come to them as a source of intelligence. And so the IQ has always been important. The third area, which is becoming increasingly important, is this: EQ. How are you emotionally intelligent? How are you asking a different set of questions in a humble way? And then the last and probably one that is one that many are not even talking about is really your sustainability, your sustainability quotient. How are you thinking about your firm’s and your ability as a business to be sustainable beyond you? Are you really thinking even multi-generation, as you talk to your clients multi-generationally, are you thinking about the privilege you have to serve your clients multi-generation, to be that multi-generational practice and for you to be thinking about your firm, your business as being multi-generational?
Evans: That’s fantastic, Anand. And let’s take your fabulous four, all right, I’m going to characterize these are your fabulous four for building a tremendous client experience and to be talked about in your community. Number one, digital. I mean the word that leaps to mind for business people is, “Can we scale this?” right? We talk about moments of meaning making or The Art of WOW. How do we scale that, Anand? Digital seems to offer some clues.
Sekhar: Yes, it does. You know, I’ll just give you one example. So a firm based in Tennessee, Abound Wealth.
Evans: Abound Wealth?
Sekhar: Abound Wealth. And you know, what’s fascinating about them is they years ago realized that they just had this knowledge. They want to share their IQ, and they want to be able to share that in a way that reaches the masses and potentially helps bring them business. And so they realized years ago to perhaps create a podcast called The Money Guys Show. And that podcast, they’ve even evolved it even a step further in the last year to now a YouTube channel. And so this is a great example of scale. Because what they’re doing is imparting knowledge in a scalable way so versus having the interaction one on one, they’re taking the IQ and packaging it up in a very relevant way for the investor and for their customers. And so I think that’s just one example.
Another way that I think about that customers are thinking in a digital mindset is how can they leverage this technology to then collaborate with their, you know, potential clients? And so because one of the things that’s really important is that clients historically are, have been spoken to or at. And so it is really important as we think about how we can have and co-create plans together with their clients is collaboration is incredibly important. So when you have a conversation in your office, are you enabling them to then co-create and collaborate digitally as they’re driving home, on their phone and then, on their laptop, whatever that medium is. And I think many advisors assume that it has to be one way and only face to face. And I think digital is changing that.
Evans: Okay, along those lines then, Anand, I want to be very prescriptive in this podcast. What should our top advisors out there and their business owners, right, what should they do right now with respect to digital as a consequence of this podcast?
Sekhar: Yes, I think having a really different mindset. Pivot your mindset to thinking…
Evans: Pivot your mindset.
Sekhar: Yes, pivot, and you need to think more, you need to think about how are you today interacting with technology today. Most of us have likely an Amazon Prime account. Most of our listeners on this podcast probably have some sort of interaction with Amazon, as an example, just one example of many. And if you think about how they engage with you in a simple way, it’s thinking along those lines, just think differently about how you’re engaging your investors today. Because the reality of it is, is that’s the mindset of your customer today. They’re expecting an interaction that is equivalent to what they see in other areas.
So another example is more often than not, I talk to advisors about text messaging, and most advisors aren’t because of compliance concerns. And the reality of it is, is that customers are expecting it. They see it from their doctor, their dentist and other professional services organizations. So why not from an advisor? And I realize that there’s compliance issues, and they’ll work through those, but there’s a wonderful opportunity to just think about what does the customer expect and what are they seeing? And then therefore also delivering what they expect.
Evans: So perhaps expanding our team’s capacity for anticipating and satisfying unstated needs using that vehicle, using the vehicle of technology.
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: Excellent. Okay, let’s move on to number two, IQ. What’s that mean? How smart we are with respect to delivering WOW experiences and moments of meaning making? Speak to that, please.
Sekhar: Yes, you know, I know that one of the things when I think about is, advisors constantly think about, “How can I share the knowledge I have?” So just knowledge-sharing idea, right? And I think that as we think about what advisors do historically is they might have focused on the planning aspect. How can I think about imparting that knowledge? And, investment acumen, so how can I communicate, you know, the traditional words of performance, alpha, beta, whatever those terms were. And the reality of it is, is that a lot of that what we see is that there’s a wonderful way to think about automating that. How can you think about building capacity and scale and opportunity for leverage by thinking about your IQ and can you perhaps think about delivering that in a more seamless, quick, efficient manner, which then enables you to then spend more time on the EQ.
And this value stack, we believe that you know today, if I think about an analogy with TurboTax, TurboTax, at the end of the day, they realize that taxes are a math equation. Planning, financial planning isn’t all that different. And so the question is, is that you know, if you look at that IQ just for that planning, the basics of planning, can that be a similar math equation? So I have 11-year-old twins. Somebody might ask me a question around how am I thinking about college planning for them and it’s a very simple math equation. How much money have I saved? How much money have I perhaps contributed each month or on some frequency? How much money do I believe that they will need and/or how much money do I want to help support them when they get to college? Very simple math equation at the end of the day. You can put in a lot of assumptions, run it through a money college situation and spit out an outcome.
The reality of it is there’s a different set of questions, which gets at the third one, EQ, which is, what are my values around college? What was my wife and mine’s college experience like? How did that shape how we view college? What do we think about college today and perhaps, the perception of how kids are learning? And does that perhaps change what we want to impart on our kids about how they think about learning in the future? And that’s a very different set of questions than those other ones which drove a math equation. And so this gets at the third one, which is all about the EQ, is asking a humble set of questions, really asking and being curious with your clients in a very curious way.
Evans: Anand, humility and curiosity, two very important attributes going forward for the next generation. Speak to that, if you would, this idea of staying humble and curious to make meaning with clients.
Sekhar: Yes, I think that advisors historically feel like by asking a question and being curious, if they don’t know the answer, it’s challenging for them to be able to even go forward and ask that question to begin with. And I think that our industry, now more than ever, you have to be willing to ask those questions. If I think about my example of that advisor that decided to do a couples communication workshop, she didn’t need to be a therapist, she just needed to facilitate and create the space for that kind of conversation. And I think the same is true for some of the questions that you might be asked, you might ask, and you might get the answer, and you may even get a question back. You don’t need to be the expert. I think the interesting…
Evans: Be a facilitator. You don’t have to be the expert. I think that is a tremendous point, Anand.
Sekhar: And just to build on that, I think the other piece is being a facilitator, is you do have to build the network. You may need to have a college counselor helping people navigate the college search process beyond just figuring out the product, the 529. So you need to you know, and so much so perhaps, one advisory firm I talked with has 80 different types of professionals. Not 80 attorneys, but 80 different buckets, and then three perhaps in each of those buckets. So you may have college counselor, you might have the estate planner that you have historically had in our industry, the tax accountant, right? Those are the traditional ones. You may have some nontraditional ones like the couples therapist and/or people thinking about how you help with concierge-type services, clearly for those that are more wealthy or more complicated. And so I think that it’s being willing to be vulnerable.
Sekhar: Ask those set of questions, be okay with the fact that you may not know all the answers and/or the questions that might come back to you.
Evans: So I want to go back to action now, beyond takeaways, action now.
Evans: Start right now to become a great facilitator. Who are the experts in your vicinity, in your immediacy that you can leverage, that you can utilize, that you can put in place to bring value, to bring knowledge to your clients? I think every advisor should consider that. And as you mentioned that, Anand, I think about I’ve done a number of coaching and consulting calls for advisors who have children in college or in grad school or in med school or in law school and they’re stressed out. And as you know, we have a program called Energy for Performance, all about stress management and using your model, that’s exactly right. The advisor was facilitating me, we work closely with the Human Performance Institute, to bring this knowledge to these young people to help them manage stress and depression and anxiety. So that is a tremendous point, Anand.
Sekhar: Yes, that’s right. And I think the thing that is powerful, if the advisor is being willing to not be the provider of the answer.
Sekhar: It is the…
Evans: That’s the pivot in thought.
Sekhar: That’s the pivot in thought because, you know, for so many years, they were the one, they were asked the stock or whatever, right, as we went back to where we started this conversation. And so as part of it, it’s also making sure that you’re finding those right partners. We stress the importance of doing your due diligence and your checks on making sure that you’re finding the right ones from a culture perspective that align with what’s important to you. So don’t just go in halfheartedly and equating those relationships. So do it with intentionality and really making sure that it fits in with who you are as a firm, what you are as an advisor and/or professional.
Evans: A wholehearted facilitator. Action now.
Yes, you know, it’s incredible. I was doing a consulting session with Jim Mahoney, a very successful advisor in South Florida, and I walked into his office, Anand, and I’ll tell you, it was just crackling. There was so much energy, there was so much positive energy. And we go through and think about the irony of this, Anand, we go through our content on The Art of WOW from Janus Henderson Labs, and I’m going through it, and I had just lost my dad, not just before this meeting, and so I was in a little bit of a funk, you know. And I look up on the wall, and I see this marvelous picture that Jim had taken of a brown bear in the Aleutian Islands, and it had a trout in its mouth, and it’s a resplendent bear. And I thought to myself, wow. And it just kind of came out of my mouth, I said, “That bear looks like my dad,” you know, and we talked all about dads, and he had lost his dad. It was just this very meaningful thing. We then went back to the consulting.
But you want to talk about EQ, and point number three of your fabulous four, a couple of days later, I come home, Anand, to my home in Orlando, and I see a UPS truck pulling out, and I see a big gift. It’s a big frame, tear it open, and it’s a picture of the bear, right. And there’s a handwritten note from Jim Mahoney saying, “Isn’t it great to have a great dad?” Now, I mean, are you kidding me? You know, this is a moment of meaning making, speaking directly to your point of EQ, going beyond the business at hand. We all have our businesses, but they’re commoditized, aren’t they? They’re commoditized, but if we can get our team to systematically make a habit for meaning making, sincerely, yes, sincerity’s so important, and with surprise, WOW, that’s going to be talked about. Because here I am on a podcast talking about Jim Mahoney. He’s now the late Jim Mahoney, and God rest his soul. But what a gesture, what a creative gesture beyond self that had impact right along your lines of EQ.
Sekhar: And what’s powerful about the story you just relayed is some might view that as not scalable, but clearly it is, because you just told the story now and others are hearing about it and so there’s a different level…
Evans: Using technology.
Sekhar: That’s right. And there’s a different way to think about scale, perhaps, and how you think about delivering on moments that matter. And I think that the other thing to think about is as you think about emotional intelligence, it’s again back to this shift in mindset. You, if you think about that, delivering that one moment, and that moment may not feel scalable, but if you can shift your entire organization to think differently, to just go in with an aspect of curiosity. Every single interaction they have even from the very first person that opens the door to receive somebody, to have that mindset from the beginning, then we’ll be a very different culture.
Evans: But that takes disruption of thought, that takes disruption of procedure, Anand.
Evans: And that’s got to come from whom? The leaders, right?
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: He or she has got to see this. We say, “WOW.” The WOW has to be caught, it can’t be taught necessarily, right? It’s a right-brain-oriented phenomenon we’re talking about. And a very left-brain-oriented industry in which we find ourselves.
Sekhar: That’s right, and even just thinking, if you think about the talent, right. So our talent historically may be part of the issue is that historically, we put degrees and designations ahead of some of these other aspects. So I’ll give you an example, you know, if you think about a job description today, historically if you look for a financial advisor, you might ask for a CFA, perhaps a CPW or whatever it is. All those different designations that clearly are important from an IQ perspective. I wonder, though, if there’s another aspect, which is a hospitality aspect. How do you understand sort of, you know, perhaps that Ritz-Carlton-type of experience, right? And if I think of some of the best firms that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, many of them are thinking along those lines. So there’s a firm in the Pacific Northwest that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and as they think about their next hire, more than three-quarters of their hires are outside of our industry. This is a firm that’s…
Evans: Outside of our industry?
Evans: Now that’s significant.
Sekhar: And they’re in a fast-growing labor market, so it’s competitive. But they’re thinking differently about that restaurant worker, more about the hospitality person. I mean, the hotel person that worked at the Ritz-Carlton or somebody that worked in the hospitality industry that has more of a service orientation.
Evans: Yes, real quick, my friend Thom Fross, we know him, great advisor down in Florida. He said the best hire he ever made was an art history major because why, to your point number three, she has tremendous emotional intelligence. She can anticipate and satisfy unstated needs lickety-split.
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: So you’re suggesting that we should be hiring for a culture that is aiming for it where the why, the mission is to really delight these customers.
Sekhar: That’s right. And then, it’s completely scalable, emotional intelligence, right?
Sekhar: Because it just permeates every single conversation and every touch point, even from the first time that they look at your website they can feel it. And I think that that’s different. And I think what’s really unique about the firms that are doing this, they’re thinking about the diversity of thought…
Evans: Diversity of thought.
Sekhar: And experiences.
Sekhar: And the reason for that, why it’s so important is that gets to relatability. You know, if you have a diverse type of experience as you grew up, you’re going to be more relatable to a person across the table from you because you’re thinking about those experiences and how you interact with that person. And so if we only hire people hypothetically that only have finance degrees or accounting majors, then you’re likely not going to get people that are going to be more willing to go to this emotional intelligence. There’s absolutely, those career paths are wonderful, and I think that there’s a need for those as well. I think just having a diverse team, though, helps bring out the best in all of us, and so I think that’s a vague aspect of what we hope for for firms as we think about emotional intelligence is, do you have the right team onboard? And if not, how are you training, developing and attracting new talent to our industry that perhaps can help build out that skill set?
Evans: Yes, two action steps. I’ll jump in here on it real quickly that we’re going to recommend. Again, forging this tremendous client experience, let’s get out of the sea of sameness, you know, the gallon of milk, gallon of gasoline. That’s where we’re headed, right? Was it Joseph Schumpeter, the great Austrian economist, who talked about creative destruction? I think this is creative destruction, what you and I are talking about. It’s disrupting the status quo, it’s thinking differently about how we’re going to connect with our clients.
Two things I want all our listeners to do right now, please, is consider hiring a chief experience officer for your team, right? That person, to point three, has very, very high emotional intelligence. She or he just gets it. It makes sense, they can satisfy the unstated need. They listen with a different level of, perhaps, tenacity. And not only do they listen really well, but they are not afraid of action. You know, we are, we’re fans of Kolbe, K-o-l-b-e, a tremendous diagnostic, and we like to see that chief experience officer who’s appointed to the team. She or he is high in a quick start, so they’re going to go. You know, they, if they catch on to the mission of delighting these clients and going beyond the business at hand systematically, they’re going to take off, and that’s going to scale out so well and so expeditiously, it’s a beautiful thing. The second thing on it before we get to number four is having a regular WOW audit session or moments of meaning sessions. Once a week, we need to establish the organizational habit of thinking about others and finding creative ways. We’re limited by two things with this whole discussion on it, are we not? One is our compliance department, right, realistically. And number two is our interpersonal creativity. Interpersonal creativity. So those are the two actions steps I want everybody to take. We’ve got to find that CXO, and then we also have to establish weekly WOW audit sessions. Now, Anand, let’s move it to number four.
Sekhar: Before we go there, if I could, I think you can see that it could be overwhelming for any business to think about a dedicated chief experience officer. And I want to encourage our listeners to not think about it, perhaps, depending on your firm size, regardless of the business model you’re in, as just having somebody that is focused on this even as part of their job. And I think that that is incredibly important because it can, I mean, I’ve worked with dozens of businesses or, you know, for all intent and purposes, small businesses, you know, less than 50 employees, and I think that, again, it would be overwhelming to think about this.
Sekhar: But, and I think one of the things that’s a wonderful opportunity is, is that even just to have somebody that’s, you know, thinking about this even 20% of the time is an improvement from where you are today most likely.
Evans: Well said.
Sekhar: And I think the other thing I’ll say is that when I think about those WOW moments, you know, one of my colleagues used to say is having a jukebox of those WOW moments collected is, “How can you curate these stories across your organization as a jukebox to then share back with your clients?” And it’s so powerful if your clients can then relay that back to others, right? So, as you said, your story about a bear and a fish, think about that. You have a jukebox now of those stories.
Evans: That’s right.
Sekhar: And I think that how can we get, regardless of the business model, whether it’s an RIA or another small business, if you have clients that you’re in a relationship-based business, you have to be able to have a jukebox of stories that you can collect.
Evans: I love it.
Evans: I love it. That is, you know, could you speak to your suburban story?
Sekhar: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, just one example of one of my jukebox stories of an advisor that just transformed a relationship. So he had this client that ended up getting divorced, and he had a really good relationship with the husband and, unfortunately, not as good of a relationship with the wife. The wife decides to move from Tennessee down to Dallas, Texas. And so, you know, six months later, he gets a call out of the blue from the wife, and kind of surprised about the call because he really hasn’t had much interaction at all with her. And she says, “You know, I just, my car, my Suburban got damaged in a hail storm. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know the first thing about interacting with the insurance company or anything else. My husband used to take all that stuff off my plate, and he would take care of it.” And he’s like, “You know what, I’ll take care of it for you. Let me call the insurance company on your behalf. Give me the number and let me figure out what we can do.” Calls in the insurance company, the insurance company says, “Happy to help you figure this out, and all you need is just get it fixed, send us an invoice and it’ll be done.”
And so she goes back to, he goes back to her and tells her what to do. She calls around in Dallas and finds out that she can’t get a single body shop to do the work because they’re backed up for months because so many cars have been damaged because of the hail storms. So he asks a buddy in Tennessee, you know, who owns a trucking company, “Are you ever going down to Dallas, and if so, would you be willing to carry a Suburban back to Tennessee?” And sure enough, he said, “Yes, we go down to Dallas all the time and half the time, we’re bringing back an empty truck back up here.” And so he said, “That would be great if you could please bring that back up here, I’ll pay you for it.” So he does that, brings the car back up to Tennessee, ends up getting the car fixed for her, then drives it back down to Dallas and then flies home. Now crazy enough, he didn’t really have a relationship with that wife before, he certainly has one now.
Evans: He certainly has one now.
Sekhar: Yes, so…
Evans: And, by the way, getting back to number one, digital, you’re telling the story in a digital format about right there.
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: So it is getting out there. That is, that’s awesome. So I’m curious about why he thought that way. I mean, can we expand the team’s capacity for thinking thusly?
Sekhar: Yes, I think what the heart of it is, is a willingness to help. I think it’s an attitude of servitude.
Evans: How do you expand that, Anand?
Sekhar: Well, you know, so I think that many in our industry, if we think contextually, might get a bad rap as being, you know, out for themselves. And I think one of the interesting things that I’ve had this wonderful delight of having conversations with is viewing the role of whatever role you’re in from an advisor perspective or in the organization that you’re in, is viewing it as a privilege to serve the customers you serve. And that privilege, then therefore means that it extends a degree of for sure, care.
Sekhar: That needs to be applied. And I think that that can be true of this industry, doctors, dentists, and I know that many may be viewing it as, “Gosh, I’ve got to just turn out another number, I’ve got to focus on, you know, getting that sale” or what have you. I think that’s the flaw. And I think in our thinking historically, especially in the financial services industry, is it’s not about perhaps that rainmaker or that producer or whatever that term is, I think that if you reorient to this aspect of being, the privilege of serving, it reorients, then, the opportunity for those types of moments to be created.
Evans: Yes, so it’s a mindset, an otherness orientation.
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: But we are busy in this industry, are we not? We are busy.
Evans: So stopping, it’s pausing, it’s being mindful and intentional about making meaning with clients, using, and I’m going to argue you have to have surprise and you have to have sincerity. We’ve got to keep this real. Purity of purpose, I think, is essential to what we’re talking about, Anand. Now, let’s wrap up. Let’s get into number four here, SQ, sustainability. What the heck is that?
Sekhar: Yes, so as I talk to advisors, you know, many recognize the opportunity to engage, perhaps, I’ll just give you one example of sustainability, and then I’ll tell you about a couple of others. So the first is, are you thinking about your aspect of sustainability beyond just this one client? Are you thinking multi-generationally? That’s one aspect of it. And what I mean by that is, is that in order for you to think about your business as a business, at some point if you don’t think multi-generationally, your firm will in essence at some point die. And growth is a big part of that, right, so if you’re not growing the next generation of client, if you’re only focused on hypothetically the silent generation, those that served in World War II or baby boomers, those that came after them, then your firm at some point is going to die. You’re going to see decumulation.
And so we have built up tool sets to help firms predict when they’re going to, in essence, their firm is going to die, the sustainability of it. And as part of it, one of the interesting observations we have is that part of it is really grounded in this aspect of a lack of engaging that next generation. So back to my example Abound Wealth. Their big target market is that Gen X and the Gen Y, the millennial, and the reason is, is that it’s because they can create a sustainable business for the long term. It’s, how do you think multi-generational? The other things, I’ll just bring it back to that EQ component of this privilege to serve, is if you view, then, the interaction with that family, viewing the fact that you have this one husband/wife, say, hypothetically as a primary client, are you viewing it as a privilege to be actually be viewed by that husband and wife as a multi-generational advisor?
Evans: Right, that’s a mindset.
Sekhar: That’s different, that’s a different mindset from, even from the client’s perspective.
Sekhar: Like that you’re going to be serving my family for four generations to come.
Sekhar: Regardless of who the advisor is in the seat, that’s a really different…
Evans: That’s transformation.
Sekhar: Yes, that’s very different. Now, I mean, and that can be transferred to other industries, even.
Sekhar: I mean, imagine if you could say that you are that firm of choice for this family from years to come and for generations. I mean, that’s powerful. And I think that most think in the moment, to your point, we live busy lives, so you think about the next thing that’s on your to do list.
Sekhar: And you don’t think strategically about, well, my firm, basically, and with me.
Sekhar: Or, and I think it’s thinking about the fact that if you have something, you’ve been serving clients so well for so long, why not think beyond you?
Evans: Right, that’s right. That’s right. I have a 35-year-old nephew who’s done extremely well in the natural gas business down in Fort Worth. He looked at me and said, “Uncle John, guess what? I know you’re working with advisors and clients all around the world, I am never going to some steakhouse to listen to some guy in a full Windsor tie talk about risk adjusted returns. It is not going to happen, Uncle John.” And I thought, it’s right. That 35-year-old mindset, what are they doing? They’re going to their handheld device to check out a potential advisor.
Sekhar: That’s right.
Evans: So demonstrating credibility, circling back to number one on your digital presence, really is important, isn’t it, Anand?
Sekhar: Well, yes, and I’ll give you just another story to complement that. You know, one of the advisors in the Northeast told me about this event she created to really drive both the EQ and maybe even the SQ, because we know there’s a lack of spousal engagement. And so one of the events she put on, which was fascinating, is she had a couple’s communication workshop.
Evans: Oh, excellent.
Sekhar: You know, to your point, is a 35-year-old couple who might have young kids, perhaps, clearly has perhaps not enough time to be communicating with each other a lot of times. I think it’s known that couples always can improve communication. Then we can all, any of us that are married, can recognize that need, right, and that opportunity. And so she recognized that need, and she knew that some of her clients had been divorced. And she said, “You know what, let me think differently about how I engage with these clients. Let me bring them together. I don’t need to be the therapist. I’m going to actually, you know, invite a therapist to come, pay for that and then provide the space to be able to have these couples that are my clients to come in and then also, ask them to invite their friends.”
And it was wonderful. She ended up with prospects in there, and the wonderful thing that came out of it was wonderful conversations. Now with, sometimes, she had the decision maker, the husband, and she didn’t have the wife, perhaps, or vice versa, maybe the decision maker was the wife, and she didn’t have the husband. Now she’s getting both, and she found that through this experience, there was just a deeper level of engagement and intimacy now that she has… Talk about sustainability.
Sekhar: That’s an example of, like, both EQ, but then also the sustainability aspect that I think is going to be powerful. So, just rethinking again, it’s a rethinking around how you approach.
Evans: A pivot of thought.
Sekhar: Yes, from steakhouse meeting to couples communications workshop.
Evans: That’s right. We’ve got to think differently, you know, and a shameless plug here. We have a wonderful link, a WOW link from Janus Henderson Labs, that has hundreds and hundreds of ideas like this, so we’re building these, this inventory of ideas. Because what we heard from advisors and their clients is, “Look, the logic of WOW or moments of meaning making, the logic is unassailable. We’re just too god darn busy,” right? That’s what folks listening right now, I can imagine heads are going up and down. Like, “That’s exactly right.” So how do we overcome that? And we want to share knowledge at Janus Henderson Labs. So we’ve created this link, I want to give Sheri Lacasse a shout out. She’s done a marvelous job, got hundreds of ideas just like the one you suggested, to help make, forge these connections and get talked about.
Sekhar: Yes, that’s right.
Evans: Okay, to close, Anand Sekhar, I want to go beyond takeaways, I’m sick of that term. I want action now for our listeners. Action now on your framework of fabulous four for building a tremendous client experience, that’s going to get you talked about, go.
Sekhar: So first, the DQ. I think a first, digital mindset, and then application is things like thinking about are you on YouTube, are you text messaging, are you thinking about the context of how they live in their digital lives today, whether it’s Amazon, Apple or whatever it is? So thinking about are you digitally engaging your clients today in a collaborative way? That’s number one.
IQ, so is it something that you need to deliver from a planning context or how do you deliver your knowledge today? Or can you outsource it? Can you think about your intelligence that you’re imparting to your clients, and how do you think about intelligence? And do you really need to do it to create capacity, so then you can get to the next one, which is all about the EQ? And when I think about EQ, it’s all about being curious, being really inquisitive, being humble in that curiosity, not preaching, not talking down and really just asking questions in a really open-ended way.
So think, rethink the way you’ve historically engaged. And even just basic discovery when you first meet with a prospect or potential client, stop asking questions such as, what’s your AUM? What are your balances? Can you bring your account statements? Ask a different set of questions. What’s top of mind for you? What are you worried about? What keeps you up at night? What are you worried about with your kids? Ask a different set of questions that is going to engender a deeper level of intimacy with your clients.
Evans: That’s excellent.
Sekhar: And then the last one, you know when I think about sustainability and the sustainability quotient, are you thinking beyond your current trajectory of your firm multi-generationally? Your legacy of your firm? Are you thinking differently so then, therefore, it means an imperative of growth, it means an imperative to driving engagement with the next generation, it means thinking about your talent differently. Because you’re not going to be sustainable if you don’t think about your talent as being something that is perhaps thinking more along the lines of these fours drivers: EQ, IQ, DQ and so on and so forth. If you don’t have a talent and work force that’s thinking about DQ, then you’re not going to be ready to be able to meet the challenges of your clients in the future.
Evans: Anand Sekhar, thank you so much.
Sekhar: It’s a pleasure, thank you.
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