On 4/7/20 we asked our Sunday Night Email readers, “What are you thinking?”
Specifically, we wanted to know from our thousands of subscribers (externals, internals, hybrids, divisional and senior leaders) scattered across North America:
- What will a return to ‘normal’ look like in our wholesaling world?
- While some firms have guaranteed 2020 employment, will there be layoffs yet to come?
- How and when will firms/advisors welcome us back into their offices – or will they?
- Will you be willing to travel, “shake hands and kiss babies” to promote products and build your practice?
- Has the ‘zoom culture’ that we’ve been thrust into set the stage for a paradigm shift in how we do what we do?
We received an amazing number of responses. Most of which were really thought provoking.
In this episode we begin to share the findings.
To see all of our Covid-19 Resources To Help You Weather The Coronavirus Storm visit: https://bit.ly/wmm-covid
Part Two available here.
What’s on your mind? Email me at rob[at]wholesalermasterminds.com
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Wholesalers, welcome back to another episode of On My Mind. This is Rob Shore with Wholesaler Masterminds, where I get to tell you what’s on my mind and ask you what’s on yours.
Technically this episode is, what are you thinking?
Because that was the title of the email I sent one week ago last Tuesday, and I wanted to know what you were thinking.
What are you thinking during this whole COVID-19 thing?
What are you thinking about a whole host of topics under the hood of that question?
And the first thing I want to mention is how appreciative I am.
We got 55 replies, which is awesome.
I have 21 pages of single-spaced word document notes.
I heard from national sales managers, heads of distribution, heads of internal sales, externals, internals, hybrid folks in the US, folks in Canada.
And there’s an awful lot for me to try to get through.
But in this episode, what I thought I do is really focus on, what is the path to normal?
What does it look like on the other side of this?
And one thing that became abundantly clear is, as is not a secret to anyone, what’s normal, what’s coming as normal is not at all clear.
One of the questions that emerges is, which firms are going to open, which firms are going to open first?
So is it going to be wires that open first? No.
Is it going to be independence and smaller shops that open first? Probably.
Will geography affect that decision? Well, most assuredly because you’re watching the news, I’m watching the news, and it’s abundantly clear that decisions about “reopening” will be made on a geographic basis.
And then there’s the question about individual gatekeepers are going to have influence about local decisions in local offices in local complexes.
Then there’s the individual advisor decision. The individual advisor decision, which would be uniquely personal.
Are they comfortable with having visitors in their office?
Are they even comfortable coming to the office?
Will they want to go out for a bite to eat?
Did they know someone who was sick with the virus, so their particular safety level, their bar to keeping safe as even higher?
I thought what I do is read you through some of the comments that I got and maybe add some color along the way.
“Yes, things will change. The big wires, biggest costs, are advisors, compliance, real estate. Now that they can manage these folks from home, will their structure change? Will they need big, fancy, costly office space?”
Man, I thought that was a really interesting question. You see the prime real estate that some of these firms occupy, will that’d be necessary? I don’t know. What do you think?
“I’m beginning to think the way we work with advisors, the way we connect with advisors, the way we create and build relationships will be changed forever. I’m sure the wires will be reconsidering the need for the number of offices they have, the access they will grant to the offices that remain and the way we communicate with advisors. One major wirehouses already said to not send advisor emails but rather send them to a central distribution point, thereby removing one way we stay in touch.”
So many of these rules are being written today and subject to amendment and will they really change and how will they change.
So much of it is unknowable but therein, if you haven’t listened to the whole episode about wide moat wholesaling, go back and listen to that episode of On My Mind because I talked about this whole notion of you really needing to cultivate your core.
Really needing to make sure that the best of your best, your A+, your platinum, your very best advisors are really engaged with you because your ability to walk in the door and connect with them may not be as opportune as it was before.
Someone else writes, “there is no switch that gets flipped that opens the business as usual gates. I don’t think there will be a day where someone says, “Everybody go back to work.” But as that transition happens, I believe many people will still want and crave personal contact, but I think it will be awhile before big group activities and a lot of travel starts to happen again. And I don’t think advisors will take just every meeting request that they get, as there will be a lot.”
There’s a lot balled up in that one, isn’t there? What a wonderful insight.
Yeah, I agree, I don’t think advisors are going to take every meeting that comes up, they’re going to want to know that it’s a trusted person and there’s going to be a lot of them, there is going to be all this pent-up demand.
Folks that speak about how the economy recovers talk about the pent-up demand in all of us to shop or to eat or to travel.
There’s going to be a pent-up demand of folks trying to get time and attention of financial advisors whenever that door reopens, and guess what?
The people that get that time and attention are the folks that have some of those relationships already pre-wired, and sadly that doesn’t favor the newer wholesaler.
It definitely favors the wholesaler that’s been in the territory for a while and has been able to frame some of those relationships in the most positive light.
Wholesaler writes, “I’m going to be even more picky about who I go see. I believe we’ll be allowed back in offices eventually. I don’t think we’ll be having five meetings a day anytime soon though. I know I won’t rush back into offices unless there’s a real good reason or a cure.”
That just speaks to the multiple dimensions of this thing, doesn’t it?
I mean sure, the wirehouse can decide that they’re going to open their door, or an LPL office can decide that they are going to open their door, and then it’s up to the geography, and then it’s up to the local leader, and then it’s up to the individual financial advisor.
The same thing applies in our individual jobs that are individual firms.
Now, I don’t know what firm is going to dare mandate that their people have to do what the firm says they’re supposed to do, i.e. go out and see people.
Because somewhere in legal departments across the country, there are additional discussions about what liability do we have, what liability do we have as a firm if we ultimately decide that we’re going to tell our people they have to go out and start visiting financial advisors and somebody gets sick. And they get sick because they were told they had to visit financial advisors.
Who’s liable then? I’ll bet you there’s some of those questions going around.
Another wholesaler says, “our activity metrics will change. Not every quote meeting should be a meeting. Too often, wholesalers and their insides, book a meeting when the interaction could and should have been by call or email. The pressure to balance the scorecard, a leading indicator, versus the sales sheet, the lagging indicator varies by firm”.
Maybe that’s a good thing; maybe it’s a good thing that the measurement of activity in our business actually changes.
Maybe it’s a good thing that firms won’t any more just look at dials.
Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re going to take a different kind of analysis towards what constitutes an activity that ‘moves the sales process forward’.
Wholesaler writes, “the worst punishment for the most hardened criminals is solitary confinement. We have an innate need to connect and video conferencing doesn’t scratch the true essence of that in my opinion.”
Yeah, I mean as I wrote in my last Sunday night email, you are not wired to sit in your office five days a week, that’s not why you took this job, that’s not what this job was supposed to be about.
So, this is something of a punishment for so many.
What does normal look like in the future?
I mean will it require, by all the different circumstances at hand, that you must be in your office three days a week, four days a week?
How will you feel about that?
How will you feel about the job if it takes quite some time for, again that word ‘normal’, to appear again.
Where you can get out and you can jump on a plane, you can be in a different city four days a week.
I mean that was the attraction to doing this in the first place, wasn’t it?
“Firms will reopen when there is a very clear end to virus. Too much liability to let lots of people come through their doors right now.”
That’s what I was just speaking about earlier.
That whole notion about the liability for firms is so high that they’re really going to have to think about that.
Someone made a prediction, as far as timeline, “here’s my prediction.
June one phase one, start to get back out in public. Lunch meetings, golf one-on-one type meetings outside of the office.
August one, offices start opening their doors and post Labor Day, as the kids now have returned to school, the remaining, the main holdouts will open their doors.
I do think branches will get more restrictive and I could certainly see them using this as an excuse to limit the number of branch meetings. For example, because of coronavirus, we’re now only doing two lunch meetings per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays only”.
One of the senior leaders that I heard from has been moving his organization to a place where even in spite of COVID-19, or maybe not even considering COVID-19, they are already moving in a direction that just gets expedited by COVID-19.
Part of what he wrote to me was, “I don’t think anything will ever replace the power of a face to face relationship, but what we are going through right now will change what that looks like.
Face to face appointments, group meetings, breaking bread, et cetera will not go away, but the use of digital connectivity will enhance these relationships and drive more success.
If use properly, we can see people less in person, broaden our base of relationships and grow sales.
In the world of reduced margins, this had to happen regardless. It will now just happen quicker.”
Normally I end these by saying now that’s what’s on my mind, tell me what’s on yours.
This is what’s on your minds.
You’ve told me and I thank you so much for that.
As I said, I got 21 pages of single space word document to get through, so there’s more of these coming.
That is what’s on my mind and yours.
If you’ve got anything more that you want to add, please hit me up, rob[at]wholesalermasterminds.com.