Fraser Jack: 00:09 Welcome to the Goals Based Advice podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser Jack, and we are still on tour in the Kombi van at the FPA Congress in Melbourne. Fresh off the stage, George Amidon, welcome.
George Amidon: 00:26 Thank you.
Fraser Jack: 00:27 Now, do you want to give us the list as a quick overview of yourself, an introduction?
George Amidon: 00:30 Sure, I’m from Michigan in the United States. Been in our industry about 35 years now. Have had the opportunity to work in a number of different capacities as an adviser, managing advisers on the asset management side, and now on the consulting side.
Fraser Jack: 00:50 Fantastic. What made you decide to come to advice? What was your...
George Amidon: 00:55 Really, I enjoyed the fact of being able to work with clients, being able to help them in their approach to being able to reach the goals, the objectives that they wanted. That was really what got me into it. The idea of dealing with investments was always something that caught my eye and being able to work around that.
Fraser Jack: 01:14 What’s your main job in Michigan at the moment?
George Amidon: 01:17 As part of the consulting group, what we do is we help advisers get new clients, keep the ones they have, and grow their practice. We provide better ways for them to communicate with advisers. We deliver those types of programs, which we’ll see today, as a way to have more meaningful conversations.
Fraser Jack: 01:37 Fantastic. Well, welcome to Australia firstly.
George Amidon: 01:39 Oh, thank you.
Fraser Jack: 01:40 Welcome to the Kombi van.
George Amidon: 01:41 It’s beautiful.
Fraser Jack: 01:44 You’ve just got off stage?
George Amidon: 01:47 No, I’m going on after.
Fraser Jack: 01:48 About to go on stage.
George Amidon: 01:49 Yup.
Fraser Jack: 01:50 What’s your presentation about?
George Amidon: 01:52 The name of the presentation is called Priceless. It’s the language of value. The program was developed based on research that we’ve done on how to have a better conversation in explaining the value proposition that you bring to your client. I mentioned we’ve done research on that. What we found is that there is, if you want to say, three demands that come from clients when they’re looking at you trying to provide the value in the relationship.
The first thing that they talk about is this idea that you need to be smart with my money. How do you communicate that you’re being smart with my money? The second part was if I become a client of yours, help me with more than just the investment piece. Then finally, what came out of the research was you’ve got to be able to show them that they’re on track. You need to communicate in a way that helps them see what their progress is.
The program is really focused on that. Helping to develop and answer those questions in a way that resonates with investors.
Fraser Jack: 02:58 Well, that certain resonates with me, especially the part right around I’m more than the money. To me, that’s really around the goals best advice. The tracking side is really important, too, showing my progress. It’s a bit like the Google Maps type scenario. Follow my progress. Tell me where I’m going to be, but help me follow my progress and let me know whether to turn left or right at the next intersection.
George Amidon: 03:20 Absolutely. It’s interesting as we’ve done the research, and we’ve looked into this. We’ve asked investors, “What’s the best way to do that to keep them on track, show them where they’re making progress?” They talk about the client review process and how important that is.
It was also interesting in the research, which I’ll share with the group today, is when we asked investors how well they liked the review process that they were going through with their advisor, 79% didn’t like it. It gave us an insight as to okay, obviously it’s important. There’s an issue. How do we address that? Again, we’ll share some ideas with the group on ways to be able to make those meetings more effective.
Fraser Jack: 04:03 Yeah. Now, tell us about the research. How did this come about? How did you go about doing it?
George Amidon: 04:06 Sure. Well, we started about 12 years ago with a group by the name of Maslansky and Partners. They’re word specialists. They’re language experts. What they do is they test a language. They really got their start in the political arena. They’ve been over here. They’ve tested things in the political debates. You can see their technology. It’s the, if you want to call it, the worm on the screen. It shows the reaction from voters.
We brought them into the financial services industry 12 years ago. Really what we wanted to focus on is the financial language that we use with clients every day. Does it make sense or doesn’t it make sense? We’ve been testing language around that over the last 12 years. It’s really the most comprehensive study done on language in our industry around that idea.
Fraser Jack: 05:01 I know that you’ve done a lot of study, research in the U.S. You’ve also done some in Australia, as well. Is that correct?
George Amidon: 05:07 We’ve done it across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Japan. We’ll be coming to Australia to do some of the dial testing.
Fraser Jack: 05:15 Yeah, fantastic. What are some of the words and phrases that resonate well compared to others?
George Amidon: 05:20 Well, it’s interesting. First of all with the testing, what makes it so unique is the dial process. It’s about the emotional reaction. We see it done anonymously, instantaneously. Simultaneously, it’s fed into a computer. We gather the emotional reaction very quickly. We test things around like when we talk about risk and the markets, or when we talk about investments and how we position that.
It’s interesting. We’ve tested this over multiple years now. We’ve asked investors what do they want to hear from their adviser about investment advice, investment solutions, or investment strategies? What’s come out of the that for the last 12 years, and many of the advisers feel it’s investment solutions. That’s not the case.
That what they really want are investment strategies because if you’re talking about solutions, it indicates they’ve got a problem. If you’re just meeting a client, you don’t know that they got a problem, so it’s really about getting to know them first. The idea is that you build strategies to help them reach their goals. That’s one of the key words that came out of the research.
Fraser Jack: 06:29 Yeah, fantastic, so strategies over solutions.
George Amidon: 06:33 Yup.
Fraser Jack: 06:33 Are you sharing some of these today on the stage?
George Amidon: 06:35 I will be.
Fraser Jack: 06:36 Fantastic, fantastic. What are the things that you’re... You’re presenting here. You present fairly often around the world, don’t you?
George Amidon: 06:44 Well, pretty much mostly in North America. This is my first trip to Australia, very beautiful. I’m happy to be here. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back and do some more work.
Fraser Jack: 06:55 Fantastic. The big take-outs for the planners that are going to be in your session today, what would they be?
George Amidon: 07:05 What you’ll find, based on the work that we’ve done, there’s some underlying principles. Number one is this idea that when you have a conversation, it has to be much more about the client and less about you. How you open up that conversation, how you engage them. When you can say more about them, less about you, we always see the dials go up. That’s one of the key takeaways.
This idea of being able to communicate the capabilities that you, as an adviser, bring around the whole financial planning process is important. Being able to communicate that in an effective manner, so we’ll touch on that. Then finally the idea of being able to talk about that client review. Really how you show them that you’re smart with their money on the front end. That you’re helping them with more than just the investments. Then finally, keeping them on track.
Fraser Jack: 07:59 Fantastic. What are the things that you personally are working on over the next 12 months?
George Amidon: 08:04 What we see really is kind of the critical piece is this whole idea around the value proposition. Then the second thing that we’re seeing as a firm, what we’re starting to look at, is this whole thought around succession planning. In the United States right now, we have an aging population as far as advisers. They’re getting into their late 50s, early 60s. They’re starting to look for someone to succeed them in their practice.
What are some of the things in communicating that both to the client, more so to client or those clients that they have, in a way that really resonates with them and doesn’t impact the loss of that relationship?
Fraser Jack: 08:48 Yeah, nice. How are you bringing this to the Australian market and to planners around Australia?
George Amidon: 08:55 Again, as we’re going through the process on this, it’ll take us some time to develop the program, but we will dial test it. We will work clients, gather information around that to make sure that what we find is relevant. It’ll be a little bit longer before we get a chance to do that.
Again, it’s relevant across many different demographics, whether it’s in the U.S., whether it’s in Canada, or Australia. That many of these things that are in place right now, succession planning, value proposition, talking about what you bring to the table, are always critical.
Fraser Jack: 09:32 Yeah, so the [inaudible 00:09:34] might change slightly from America to Australia, but a lot of it will remain the same.
George Amidon: 09:40 Yes.
Fraser Jack: 09:41 How can people get ahold of what you’ve currently got, then have a look at it, and speak to somebody?
George Amidon: 09:45 Okay. The best way is to reach out to their Invesco representative. They can show them the different programs that are available, give them a little bit of the insight around how the programs work, some of the key things that really are delivered in those programs. Then set up an opportunity to be able to take advantage of those things.
Fraser Jack: 10:05 Fantastic. Someone from Invesco can talk to you about the words you’re using in the practice?
George Amidon: 10:10 Absolutely.
Fraser Jack: 10:10 Yeah, fantastic. Well, really appreciate you coming and having a chat today. It’s going to be a fantastic session. I know they’ll be a lot of people involved. It’s behavioral that anything you mention around behavioral finance or behavior... We try to understand how our clients think and feel, and behavior has been really popular. I’ve no doubt they’ll be a lot of people at your session.
George Amidon: 10:29 Great.
Fraser Jack: 10:30 Thanks for hanging out in the Kombi van.
George Amidon: 10:32 Thanks. It was great meeting you.
Fraser Jack: 10:33 Fantastic. If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. To continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.
Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.