The Convergence of Trends

The author defines "practice management" as creating and managing a financial planning business that is profitable and efficient.

The current (linear) trend in financial planning is a transition from selling products (and earning commissions, like a salesman) to selling service (and charging fees, like a consultant). One of the key benefits of this trend is that the "old" way required the planner to constantly search for new customers to flog products in order to earn a constant stream of commissions, whereas the "new" produces regular revenue from ongoing customers.

This is also reflected in the relative decreases in commissions over time: in the mid-eighties, it was not unusual for an advisor to charge an 8.5% fee for buying into a mutual fund, or a life insurance professional to charge a sales fee equal to a year's premiums.

EN: These commissions were lower when the book was written (2003), and virtually nonexistent now (2008).

And so, the next wave of planners who will be shaken out of the tree, so to speak, are the old-school salesman who are accustomed to pushing product - and from the author's perspective, good riddance, as it will be better for clients in the long run to have someone who's rewarded for helping them rather than for pushing product.

The author advises divorcing oneself from the language and thought-patterns of the sales model, and more into those of an advisor/consultant: see clients as people, see success as helping them achieve their goals, and the rest falls into place.