August 22, 2019

Are You Offering Medicine or Vitamins?

Are You Offering Medicine or Vitamins?

By Pete Bush, CFP®

August 21, 2019


Imagine it’s 2 a.m.,you’ve got a fever, your nose is running, your body aches and you’re coughing like crazy.  Chance of sleep?  Zero.


So you run to the medicine cabinet and can’t find anything to help you.  Miserable. You need relief and are willing to do whatever you need to get it!


Good thing Walgreens is open 24/7.  You gladly get in your car and head that way to find something, anything that can knock out these symptoms and relieve the pain!  In fact, nothing can stop you at that moment from making that drive, even as bad as you feel.


Now imagine you awake at 2 a.m., maybe jarred by a dream or a noise. You feel okay but you start thinking as you lay there, “I really need to pay more attention to my health.  I’ve heard of these multi-vitamins I should be taking and maybe it would do me some good to do that.”


Question for you:  Are you getting out of bed to drive to Walgreens at 2 a.m. to buy vitamins?  Of course not!


One is urgent, with immediate expected benefits.  One is not,with benefits down the road over a long period of time.


So how do we, as advisors, make our offer appear as the medicine it sometimes needs to be, while also preserving the long term benefits and value of the vitamins we most certainly offer as well?

To me, it’s about unpacking the emotions that people bring into our office that are not visible to the naked eye.  It’s been said that we should imagine that everyone who sits across from us has brought in a briefcase full of all their important documents and account statements that we can see,but that also in the briefcase are things we can’t see:  fears, mindsets about money, feelings about relationships, dreams, etc…  We have to work hard in our conversations to pull those out because many of those are the 2 a.m. issues that need medicine and like a lot of personal issues, people don’t really know who to trust or how to talk about them.


Sometimes the body tells us immediately when something is wrong and sometimes we wish it would.Sometimes financial matters are urgent and sometimes they lurk in the shadows unaware to our clients.


If someone gets a notice that their life insurance is about to lapse, they take notice and take action.   But if someone’s advisor has them in expensive fund share classes, or their asset allocation is way too aggressive for their risk tolerance, the damage is being done even if the memo is still yet to be delivered.  It’s like a slow growing virus that will ultimately do some harm if left unattended or remain unaware.


You have to be the one who alerts them to make it urgent and not just because you want to sell them medicine.  You have to do it because you know that healthy financial people, just like healthy people in general, are typically happier, better able to help others, and make the world a better place.  And what better calling could you have than to make an impact where you leave the world better than you found it?


Now certainly you can be a pharmacist and just dole out the right medicine when people approach you with a known need.  Our industry is filled with those guys and gals, but they are limited in the impact they can have on client’s lives.  Or you can be a proactive concierge financial doctor who treats the whole patient in pursuit of total overall health and well-being, treating the known immediate issues by prescribing medicine you may or may not necessarily sell yourself, while also recommending the right vitamins for the slow but steady path to lifetime wellness.


The answer to the question posed in the title of this essay is: both!  You offer medicine and vitamins, but the clients rarely know the difference until you show them.  Maybe they know they’re sick or maybe they don’t, but you can surely tell if you get the chance to evaluate them right?


And when you do get that chance, tell the unvarnished truth about where they are hurting and need medicine so that is apparent to them that this is indeed a “2 a.m.” issue.


No, no one gets out of bed in the middle of the night to buy vitamins.   But, if you can first identify where people are sick and then offer your priceless advice and medicine, you will open a pathway for their interest in the vitamins and their interest in you as the financial health coach they need for the rest of their lives.

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