I’ve long admired the world of Dan Solin. Dan Solin is the author of the Smartest series of investing books and The Smartest Sales Book You’ll Ever Read. He blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and Advisor Perspectives, and he also works as a sales coach to advisory firms throughout North America.
Here he gives his views on the future of the advisory profession, and explains what advisers can do to increase their conversion rates and why sharing high-quality content is so important.
Dan, you obviously wear a number of different hats, but what projects are you focusing on at the moment?
I’m coaching advisers and helping them increase their conversion rates. I am doing a joint venture with Advisor Perspectives and will be offering mastermind groups to advisers. I am also working on a new book that will break the mould for investing books. Finally, I’m working on a new YouTube channel for investors.
That all sounds intriguing. What can you tell me about the book?
My book will discuss the new platforms available to investors and will serve as a guide to assist them in deciding the optimal choice.
How much of a threat is robo-advice to traditional, face-to-face advice, and how should traditional advisers respond to it?
I disagree with those who are trivialising the impact of robo-advisers. I believe it is a seismic threat to traditional advisers. They will have to invest significantly in technology and re-evaluate their fee model.
What do you think the advice profession will look like, say, ten years from now?
Everyone agrees it will be radically different. None of us can predict the specifics. My personal view is that the current business model of traditional advisers will not survive. I also believe the preference of investors for robo solutions will accelerate at a more rapid pace than many believe.
Advisers often meet a prospective client and never hear from them again. How can they do things differently at that initial meeting to maximise their chances of securing a second meeting?
Many advisers don’t understand that their job at the initial meeting is to elicit information and not convey it. This basic misunderstanding is the primary reason why conversion rates are so low.
Where else do you think advisers are going wrong from a client-acquisition point of view?
Many advisers overemphasise the importance of data and underestimate the rôle of empathy, making an emotional connection and sharing experiences. It’s ironic that advisors who believe in evidence that supports their investment philosophy ignore the wealth of evidence on converting prospects.
You’re a big fan of Robert Cialdini and the science of persuasion. What are the main lessons that advisory firms can learn from Cialdini?
Cialdini’s seminal book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, should be required reading for all advisers. It’s as important as familiarity with the work of Fama and French on the investing side.
How important do you think it is for advisers to be producing high-quality content? And what sort of content should they go for?
It’s critically important, but the problem is the definition of “high-quality content.” Most of what I see is self-serving, too long, incredibly boring and formulaic. With the exception of your videos, Robin, I can’t recall seeing any video content that I didn’t believe was a waste of time, effort and money.
In the past, you’ve also argued there’s a rôle for humour in adviser marketing. Why is that? And do you have any specific suggestions?
The proper use of humour reduces tension and makes advisers more relatable. It also makes them more likeable. That’s important because there’s compelling data that “likeability” relates positively to conversion rates.
I understand you were involved in the making of John Oliver’s recent film about workplace retirement plans. That sounds fascinating!
I learned a lot from working on that show. The YouTube video was viewed millions of times. Oliver probably did more to help investors than all the books and blogs written on how the securities industry is rife with conflicts and greed.