…there was one thing that David shared during our conversation that stood out more than anything else…
By Tom Haigh
I must admit to feeling intimidated before we first met.
I’d heard the stories, read his book, and consumed the course.
So, I’m not sure if I was disappointed or relieved to learn David is just a regular guy. A regular guy who learned something that most in business spend a lifetime overlooking.
That something, which I’ll share with you here today, was key to David’s rise from a suburban financial adviser to industry leader. Not to mention a widely publicised, eye-watering payout on exit from Shadforth – a financial advice brand David helped scale to a $670m valuation back in 2014.
Standing at a modest 5’7” it’s fair to say it’s not David’s physical presence that commands attention – a ‘Collingwood 6-footer’ would be a real stretch – but when he speaks it’s fair to say everyone in the room listens.
Such is his ability to influence others, David now spends the majority of his weeks mentoring the finance industry’s brightest stars. Driven by the success of those who are lucky enough to fly under his wing.
For those who do make it through the application process – yes, the waitlist is a long one – feedback of their experience is consistently positive. If the 27 minutes I spent with David were anything to go by, I would have to agree.
But it was one thing that David shared during our conversation that stood out more than anything else.
For someone who has dedicated his career to financial advice, he spends little time talking about finance.
This was most apparent when quizzed on the one thing that contributed most to his success – to a breakthrough in his career – David mentioned something I would never have expected.
His secret weapon…
Noticing my blank-faced response David elaborated…
“Even from early on in my career, when I’d first meet with a client, I’d make a point of focusing heavily on their goals and aspirations. Certainly, I’d cover off on the important details about our products, services, and the like…
“But to be honest, I realised that most clients only cared about reaching their goals.
“Buying a swimming pool… holidaying in Europe…being able to afford private school education for their kids.
“The goals may have varied from client to client, but the process of getting them there wasn’t.”
Ultimately taking his clients on that journey was something David focused on upfront, and for good reason.
“There were few reservations to doing business with you when you could show someone a projection of their future situation. I was big on visuals, taking time to show clients exactly what their future could look like if they took the steps we were discussing.”
Pivotal to his success was avoiding the ‘iceberg approach’ that most advisers take when engaging with their clients.
To borrow a quote from The Life-First Advisor, a book David co-authored with fellow adviser Barry LaValley:
“The deep dive approach of many advisers reminds us of icebergs, which are typically 90% below the water. Most clients only want to know what’s above the water line…
“Their message is ‘tell me what I need to know and why I should care’.
“Yet many advisers deluge clients with the stuff below, almost as if they feel the more detail they provide, the smarter and more professional they look.”
Client-Centric Advice Program
David’s approach to client conversion was so effective it led to the creation and implementation of a program that took national client conversions at Shadforth from 25% to 67% in just 12 months – an approach he is now sharing in the Client-Centric Advice Program, a business transformation program for finance professionals seeking greater fulfilment and healthier profits from their work.
If like me, you’re always on the lookout for ways to improve client outcomes, David’s lead is not a bad one to follow – especially if you’re prone to talking about icebergs!