In my previous article I asked you why you think your clients don’t refer your financial planning service. And more than 100 planners gave me a worthy answer.
However, I wonder if those planners have ever thought of this:
First, here are some of your answers:
- People don’t know if financial planning will be suitable for others
- People don’t feel comfortable when they refer
- People fear they bring their relationship with their friends in jeopardy
- People think their friends don’t need any advice
- People just don’t like to talk about finances with other people
There are more than 100 other reasons why planners think their clients won’t refer their service.
That’s right. You assume your clients have reasons to not refer you. You assume your clients don’t want to help you.
But is that really true? Is your assumption right? Or is there something else going on?
Are You Prepared To Admit This?
Back in 1835, social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that Americans “enjoy explaining almost every act of their lives on the principle of self-interest”. He saw Americans “help one another” and “freely give part of their time and wealth for the good of the state”. However, he was struck by the fact that “Americans are hardly prepared to admit” that these acts were driven by a genuine desire to help others.
“I think that in this way they often do themselves less than justice”, he wrote.
A century and a half later, the Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow interviewed a wide range of Americans who chose helping professions. From cardiologists to rescue workers.
When he asked them to explain why they did good deeds, they referenced self-interested reasons, such as “I liked the people I was working with” or “It gets me out of the house”. They didn’t want to admit that they were genuinly helpful, kind, generous, caring or compassionate.
Do you recognize this? Then keep reading.
Although the majority of people most certainly won’t see financial planners as a ‘do-gooders’, I believe that most financial planners ARE do-gooders by nature.
However, the question is: are you able to admit – not only to yourself – but also to your peers, your friends and even your clients that you are in business for only one reason:
You Want to Help Other People
Or is this difficult for you? Well, you’re not the only one.
“We have social norms against sounding too charitable”, Wuthnow writes, such that “we call people who go around acting too charitable ‘bleeding hearts’, ‘do-gooders’.
If many people personally believe in giving, but assume that others don’t, the whole norm in a group or a company shifts away from giving.
This is exactly what is going on in the financial services industry. You see, empathy and emotional fluff isn’t valued in our industry.
It’s not tangible. It’s soft. It’s right-brain.
However, most financial planners hold giver or helper values. Actually, it’s why they became a financial planner in the first place- they want to help other people.
But now suppress or disguise these values under the mistaken assumption that other people don’t share these values. Because this is “how the industry works”.
When people assume that others aren’t givers, they act and speak in ways that discourage others from giving, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ Robert Wuthnow
So can it be true that you are actually a giving person and you are not expressing yourself as a giving person? (which I know you are)
Do you realize that when you are NOT expressing yourself as a giver or a helpful, caring person (and I repeat – which you are), it has the annoying effect that your peers – and even your clients – will also NOT help you, because of your own wrong assumption that others don’t share your values?
How To Disrupt This Annoying Effect
In his marvellous beststeller Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success professor Adam Grant explains how people who are in a position to provide help (like you), can disrupt this problem.
The first step is to make sure that you ask for help (like asking for a referral). However, that’s easier said than done.
Grant tells a short story about running his programm “Reciprocity Ring” with companies such as IBM, Citigroup, Estée Lauder and UPS and that many participants question whether others will actually give them the help they need.
It turns out that our expectations about people who want to help us are pretty underestimated. Here’s what Wharton found out:
- In one study participants learned that they would be approaching strangers in New York City and asking them to fill out a survey. The participants estimated that only one out of every four people would say yes. In reality, when the participants went out and asked, one out of every two said yes
- In another study in New York City, when participants approached strangers and asked them to borrow a cell phone, they expected 30% to say yes, but 48% did
- When people approached strangers, and said they were lost and asked to be walked to a nearby gym, they expected 14% to do it, but 43% did
- And when people needed to raise thousands of dollars for charity, they expected that they would need to solicit donations from an average of 210 people to meet their fund-raising goals, anticipating an average donation under $50. They actually hit their goals after approaching half as many people – on average, it only required 122 people, whose donations were over $60 each
So why do we underestimate the number of people who are willing to give? And why do you underestimatie the number of people who are willing to refer you and your financial planning service?
In a study by Frank Flynn and Vanessa Bohns it turns out that people like you tend to underestimate the role that embarassement plays in decisions about whether or not to ask for help.
We don’t want to look incompetent or needy, and we don’t want to burden others. There’s a pressure to look successful all the time. Opening up by asking for help would makes you vulnerable.
So, the question is: is it possible to not feel embarassed when asking for help?
According to Grant there’s little reason to feel embarassed when everyone is making a request. By making requests explicit and specific, you provide potential givers with clear direction how to contribute effectively.
Wharton tells about a research that shows that the vast majority of giving that occurs between people, is in response to direct requests for help. In one study he tells about managers describing times when they gave and received help. Of all the giving exchanges that occured, roughly 90% were initiated by the recipient asking for help.
So, let’s test this.
In this community are almost 1300 financial planners at this very moment. And I’m quite sure of the fact that we can help each other. Why? Because most planners share the same problems, have the same experiences and we all want to make financial planning matter (I hope…:-)).
Now, in my humble opinion there’s little reason to be embarrassed to help each other. You see, most financial planners who read this blog share the same values like you. They are giving, helpful people.
That’s why there’s no need to feel embarassed. There are already a huge amount of planners who open up by commenting. Just check out earlier articles.
So, why don’t you do too?
Why don’t you ask the readers of this blog for a little help?
And what if we help each other by sharing our knowledge – by giving a reply?
Just think of a problem you are facing today in your financial planning service. What is your biggest struggle? It can be anything. Something big, something small. Something technical, something emotional. Anything.
I understand I already asked you this question in the past, but now I hope also other planners will contribute by helping you with their knowledge.
Just be very explicit and specific. Don’t ask: “How can I get my clients to pay my fees?” Ask: “How do I convince my clients about the fees I charge and why it is worth it, when they compare my service with my competitor on price?”
So, I’d like to ask you to Ask A Question. Make A Request. Don’t feel embarassed.
Do it by sharing your question in the comment section – below.
And when you think you can help another planner with your knowledge, please do. Don’t feel embarrassed.
When you ask a question or help another planner by sharing your knowledge by hitting the reply-button, you’ll receive the free PDF about Why You Don’t Have to Do A Single Thing to Receive Multiple Referrals
So, go ahead, ask a question (by commenting below) and help other planners (by reply-ing to a comment below).
One warning though : according to Grant the effect is that you begin to care about others, even if you have never met them…
To Your Success,