Paul McGee started his session by asking an audience of finance brokers to partner up and say a few words to each other in Norwegian. The translation: “I love you sugar baby”… and the ice is officially broken!
First and foremost, Paul reminds us of one crucial fact: if you want to get the best out of yourself, out of others and out of life, training and qualifications – while important – are only going to take you so far.
SUMO is an acronym for ‘Shut Up and Move On’ (or ‘Stop, Understand, Move On’ if you prefer), but it’s also a philosophy of life.
Bearing this in mind, Paul encourages his audience to “develop fruity thinking”. Thinking is, after all, a bit like breathing: it’s automatic to the point that we don’t ‘think’ about doing it. Despite this, it has a very real and direct impact on your actions and results.
It’s time for a little more engagement as we again turn to our Norwegian ‘sugar baby’ and repeat the following: “You are completely, totally and utterly MAD.” MAD being an acronym for ‘making a difference’.
Why? Because every time you encounter someone you are a ‘Director of First Impressions’. Because everything you say to others (and to yourself) could be remembered, and can have a real impact – whether positive or negative.
Adapting to change is absolutely critical to achieving success, and when we’re going through a transition period, we always need support.
“Seeking support is never a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom”.
At the same time, during periods of change, individuals are increasingly prone to faulty thinking. One form of this is ‘the inner critic’, which can highlight your weaknesses and hide your confidences. We listen too much to this inner critic, and end up beating ourselves up in the process. The second form of faulty thinking is the ‘martyr syndrome’ – thinking of yourself as a victim and consistently trying to blame someone else rather than taking responsibility.
According to Paul, people often think in questions. So why not ask a curious question of yourself? Here are a few to consider today:
- Where is this issue on a scale of 1-10?
- How important will this be in six months time?
- Is my response appropriate and effective?
- How can I influence or improve the situation?
- What can I learn from this?
- What will I do differently next time?
- What can I find that’s positive in this situation?
Daniel Flynn started his Convention session with a quote from his mate Andy: “Leadership is learning in front of more people”. It’s something that has summed up his entire career.
Daniel’s journey started at 19. While studying for a university assessment, he got distracted by a stat on the Internet that said 900 million people don’t have access to water.
Another key statistic: we spend $50 billion dollars every year on bottled water.
“Personally, I think it’s a bit of a silly product,” said Daniel.
But, of course, we all still buy it. We pay for convenience.
So then came the question: what if we could turn that dumb moment into something powerful? What if we could “change the word one bottle at a time”?
That was the point when ‘thankyou’ bottled water was born (backed by a net worth of approximately $1000!) – a product that would exist 100% for the cause, with every cent of profit used to fund life-changing projects.
Considering the remarkable growth of the ‘thankyou’ brand (sans initial funding and despite a few setbacks along the way – including a ‘product recall’ of their launch water supply!), Daniel highlights three key things to remember:
“Impossibility is only someone’s opinion, not a fact.”
“Success can be defined as the ability to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”
And most importantly:
“If you don’t change the game, someone else will. The greatest barrier is fear of failure.”
So overcome it!
Hermens has been training brokers for the Diploma of Mortgage Broking at the Institute of Strategic Management for more than 25 years, and has been emphasising the importance of each broker finding their point of difference throughout that time.
He points to four brokers who have been through the ISM’s training and are now extremely successful, and credits their passion for their success. People will help with your systems and structures, Hermens explains, but you need to find your inner voice, the thing that you are passionate about – your point of difference.
Hermens points to six stages of a broking business journey:
The sticking point for most, he says, is the succession stage – many don’t plan for it, or dislike the idea of giving up a portion of their control or profit for the sake of planning for it.
Size, in this journey model, is not relevant. What is important is planning for the size a broker wants to achieve, and leveraging scale and perfecting processes so that they can focus on the $200/hour work while delegating the $20-$30/hour work.
The problem with bringing in people who can do this work, however, is that they may leave and take clients with them. Several solutions are possible, such as making them stakeholders or ensuring that they always have the option of walking away but must buy the book if they take the client with them.
Hermens’ solution is to ensure that clients connect with the business as a whole, rather than with their loan writers, and that staff at all levels connect with each client.
From here, leveraging scale and creating a ‘sticky’, or self-sustaining, book are key.
“Choose your segments and then identify your value proposition,”
Hermens says. An ideal place to start? “Find out what pain points your customer experiences.”
For FHBs, for example, pain points are not knowing anything about the process and dealing with misinformation. For SMSF trustees, a pain point is the need to make a decision and the lack of the knowledge to do so. Finding the solutions to these problems, then, provides that point of difference for a broker business.
Hermens agrees with the point about product numbers and client retention that Dominique Bergel-Grant discussed in her Round-table session: the more products a client has with a broker, the more sticky they are. The logic is clear: more products means more contact with the broker, and more contact with the broker increases retention.
Hermens also offers a logical progression to develop a business strategy, in which brokers identify nine core aspects of their businesses:
- Customer segments
- Value proposition
- Customer relationships
- Revenue streams
- Key resources
- Key activities
- Key partners
- Cost structure
To wrap up, Hermens outlined his idea of the perfect broker business structure: a principal with two loan writers, plus a packager, a tracker and a dialler. This structure, he says, ensures clients get brilliant service, and have enough contact points that they are connected to the business rather than the loan writer.
When a potential client asks ‘Why you?’, what is the answer? According to Bruce Cotterill, platitudes such as ‘I’m the best’, ‘I’ll give you a great experience’, or ‘you will be my most important client’ won’t cut it. Brokers need to identify their three points of difference – the three things they can say about their businesses that others can not.
Cotterill also points out that nothing is predicable, so brokers, in their planning, need to know the things they can control, and take advantage of these. These things that can be controlled all fall under one of seven headings:
- Dealing with change
- Finance/the back office
Know your goals
Cotterill says that 85 per cent of businesses don’t have a plan, and suggests that one way to get ahead is to plan to do so. His first rule is to have clear objectives. Problems will arise, but they are only important if they affect the achievement of those objectives.
“If you can get really clear about what you want to achieve in your business, it makes decision-making very easy,” Cotterill explains. “You become less reactive and more proactive.”
Change is permanent; get used to it
Each year, brokers need to perform 20 per cent better than they did the previous year just to keep their clients.
“You won the client’s business because you were outstanding,”
“The client will tell people, and keep supporting their own decision.”
This serves to build even higher the already high expectations the client holds. Come the quarterly review though, brokers are not as prepared and don’t meet those clients’ high expectations. And the broker who lost the business is still trying to win it back. Cotterill points out that meeting or beating clients’ expectations is the only way to keep them: “that’s why I say you have to be 20 per cent better every year”.
Clear communication and absolute transparency with stakeholders is essential. It is not enough to communicate once, however. “Repeat yourself,” Cotterill says. “Always assume the message doesn’t get through.”
Tailoring this communication is just as important. Particularly considering younger generations – Cotterill uses the phrase ‘Facebook generation’ – who are constantly connected and who expect to be permanently engaged. With these staff or clients, communication does not necessarily need to be constant, but it does need to be engaging.
It’s just as important to invite and listen to feedback.
A plan provides clear direction
Those 85 per cent of companies that don’t have a plan have staff that go to work every day and guess at what they should do, Cotterill says.
An effective team can only be made up of people who know what they are expected to do, and how it contributes to the overall goals of the company.
Know what your customers value
“The things that are important to them, you see every day,” Cotterill says, a reminder that brokers can’t possibly have an automatic insight into their clients’ perception of experience they are providing.
While one thing might seem minor to brokers, whether it is an ‘above and beyond’ service they provide to their clients or a quick phone call updating them on progress, Cotterill explains that “it might be a major thing to your clients”.
What makes business and individuals thrive? In this forum theatre session, Simon Wilton and Glen Hancox explored just that, asking the entire audience to get involved – and they certainly did!
In their various role plays, Wilton and Hancox introduced their audience to a (nightmare) boss and a new mortgage broker employee, checking in over a two-week period. They asked the Convention audience to network in groups and provide feedback on the approach and attitude of the company boss, Garry.
The audience were then invited to ‘coach’ Garry and ask specific questions to the characters on stage, encouraging attendees to see different ways of managing real-life work situations.
The key message: don’t ignore people leadership! Strong management skills are absolutely crucial when running and growing a small business.
Ever dreamt of being an entrepreneur? While you certainly wouldn’t be alone, the unfortunate truth (according to Sandy Geyer) is that 80% of entrepreneurs fall under ‘Level A: The Failing Slowly Category’.
So how can you avoid doing this and grow a successful business?
Talking to a packed conference room, Sandy Geyer reminded us that entrepreneurial intelligence (or EnQ) is both a focus and an awareness. She presented an ‘EnQ jungle’ representing four types of entrepreneur, each defined by specific traits or behaviours and represented by an animal.
So which one are you?
The fisheagle: Cautious and courageous, eagles are intellectually advanced, with a long-sighted vision and focus. They plan meticulously to avoid risk and tend to be inflexible thinkers who do not compromise on values.
The baboon: Careless and creative, baboons have a shifting and unfocused vision with unclear goals. They are positive and dramatic thinkers who enjoy being innovative and taking risks.
The rhino: Careless and cautious, rhinos have a short-sighted vision and focus. While they have high practical intelligence, they are conservative thinkers with low risk tolerance and ‘unconscious incompetence’.
The lion: Courageous and creative, lions have a long-term vision with a supportive short-term focus. They have clear goals and values, and tend to think in terms of “what is possible”, displaying high tolerance to risk backed by a firm purpose and empowering style of leadership.
The ultimate aim for an entrepreneur is to achieve the mindset of a lion. Sandy encourages her audience to understand what a lion looks like in their industry, and then attempt to emulate this on the path to being a successful entrepreneur with a high EnQ.
Ultimately – operating with integrity and inspiring trust – there’s one crucial thing to remember:
“Do what it is that you say you’re going to do.”
Attracting and retaining employees is a crucial element of success in just about any business. Simple, right? Problem is, the ability to actually achieve this is the key issue facing companies today – and the situation is only getting worse.
By the year 2020, there will be 85 million jobs globally for which we cannot find educated, adult workers.
Technology and globalisation have fundamentally shifted what we expect from our employees. Couple that with the fact that expectations of workers themselves – notably Gen Y and Gen Z – have simultaneously altered, and it’s pretty apparent that something needs to change.
The stats speak for themselves:
- 80% of your staff is only mildly engaged or actively disengaged
- 50-200% is the percentage of annual salary it would cost to replace one staff member
- 70% of job growth is coming from social age (innovative, strategic, creative) occupations
According to Kim Seeling Smith, Chief Engagement Officer at Ignite Global, we need to stop using Industrial Age practices to hire and manage Social Age staff – and the best way to do this is through a model of 5Cs.
Hire Correctly: Everything starts with getting the right people on board. Move from a reactive to a proactive sourcing model, hire for attitude and ability rather than skills and experience, and engage hearts and minds with a robust on-boarding program.
Classify and manage appropriately: Make sure you are spending time with those employees who will provide the largest ROI.
Compensate fairly: The ‘f’ word is most important – ensure your staff FEEL compensated fairly for the work they do.
Use Currencies of Choice to increase engagement: Apply the 8 ‘Currencies of Choice’ to motivate, recognise and reward.
Communicate with FOCUS: Engage in the 5 FOCUSed Conversations to deliver on the 8 ‘Currencies of Choice’.