YOU, the Business Development Professional’s Role:
I have spent 20-years in the financial services industry as a Business Development professional. Still, to this day I remember my journey in getting into the industry like it was yesterday. In late 2000, I was recruiting for a private college and absolutely despised the high-pressure sales tactics of doing everything possible to obtain a $25 application fee. Most couldn’t afford the $25 and I knew the program they were enrolling in would not be the career they would enjoy. One day, I received a call from a good friend of mine. He said there was a local firm looking for a recruiter. I told him, “Bill I have no desire to be a recruiter. I am looking at other options and want to get out of recruiting, because of the high-pressure sales tactics.” He said, “Jeremy go meet with the Head of Business Development and the President/CEO. This isn’t your typical sales position.” Reluctantly, I went and met with the President/CEO and Head of Business Development and it was a day I will never forget.
After a long day of interviewing with multiple people, I met with the President/CEO and the first question he asked me was, “what do you think Jeremy?” I told him, “Tom, I think that there are many great people within the organization and the firm is great as well, however, I really don’t see myself in a high-pressure sales position. It’s just not me.” The words after answering that question from Tom were words I will never forget. Tom told me, “Jeremy I don’t ever want you to sell anything. If you accept this role, I want you to focus all your energy on building strong and trusting relationships with every advisor you work with, make a 100 dials a day for the first two-years of your career, and most importantly, never mislead or misguide an advisor. Act with the highest level of integrity, ethics, and honesty and you will be successful in this industry. Those are words that have stuck with me throughout my career as a Business Development professional throughout my career and words that I have done my best to live by each day.
While there have been ups and downs throughout my career, as well as many sacrifices that I and my family have had to make, I must admit I love what I do. Having made mistakes along the way with focusing on the right business versus the wrong business, pushing too hard to get a decision from a prospect, or taking a loss too personal, I have always strived to act with the highest level of integrity, honesty, and ethics.
As I reflect, in every industry there are always the bad apples that spoil the bunch. You see, I take it extremely seriously when I am working with a prospective financial advisor, because they are trusting their livelihoods, their ability to take care of their family and their clients’ livelihoods in your hands when making a decision to make a broker-dealer change. I take pride in being upfront and transparent. It is just as important to cover the areas where your firm could be better and not just covering the benefits of your firm to the advisor. This isn’t a sign of weakness, but more so a sign of you doing what is right. I’ve always strongly believed that if you place your clients needs in front of your own, you don’t ever have to worry about the financial gain you will receive. That will come naturally by doing right by your client.
Another item I strongly believe has made me successful in this industry is my responsiveness and willingness to speak to a prospective advisor anytime. Many people believe that if a prospect is calling you at 7 pm at night that they are needy or a pain. In reality, here is an advisor that has everything to lose should he/she make the wrong decision, so don’t you at least owe them your time? Yes, taking time away from your family, whether it’s on the phone at night or traveling is not something anyone wants to do, but it is the sacrifice you have to make in order to be the best at what you do. I am a competitive person by nature so the last thing I want to do is lose or not be one of the top recruiters on a team. However, I have learned you can still achieve that without sacrificing what is in the best interest of your client.
Below, I have listed just some of the areas where I feel that we as Business Development professionals have an obligation to our clients to do our very best:
– While sometimes it may cost you losing a deal, always act with the highest level of integrity, ethics, and honesty.
– Don’t hide certain information, because you don’t think your client will like the answer. Whether it pertains to hidden costs, payouts, or policies. Be transparent with your client.
– When a client contacts you, no matter what time or day it is, be responsive to their needs. They have a lot of questions and uncertainty. It is your job to talk through the concerns they have.
– Get to know your client first, both personally and professionally. Don’t try and sell them anything before getting to know them.
– Never attempt to sell a client for your own personal financial gain. If your firm is not the right fit, then be honest. If you are a 3rd party recruiter, don’t just send a prospect to a prospective broker-dealer because that broker-dealer pays you more than the others.
– While the role of a Business Development professional can be grinding and a lot of work, understand the vital role you play in your client’s and their family’s livelihood.
These are just a few of the areas that you as a Business Development professional should feel obligated to do. We are all blessed to have the ability to make money, ultimately being in a role that only we are in control of the success or failure we achieve. You must put in the work to be successful. Many firms in our industry have lost sight of what has made them successful; the clients they serve. That doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. We have a duty to serve our clients, as Tom put it, “with the highest level of integrity, ethics, and honesty.”
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this short blog. I would love to hear your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if you would like to learn more about how we work with Business Development professionals, please contact us.