One of my all time favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart. The classic good versus evil struggle of the banker Mr. Potter and the hero of the story George Bailey has not only survived the test of time but is still one of our classic Holiday stories.
When this clip was sent to me it reminded me that one of the reasons this story is timeless is that it continues to re-surface time and time again with the most recent being the 2008 to the present financial crisis. Large financial institutions did not serve the public well during the crisis and in fact were front and center when it came to identifying who was to blame for the problems. It’s curious how we too often associate “BIG” with “SAFE” and how often it is simply not true. The customer rewards for buying into the “BIG is safer” line is long lines, 800 number service, high fees and expenses.
Every advertisement for a large financial institution proposes that the “relationship” is key, yet very seldom does anyone talk to the same person twice when calling the 800 number. When we do, the answer is about the rules and policies that are put in place to “protect” me. Personally, the word relationship has a much different and deeper meaning in business. It means knowing people and their needs as George Bailey demonstrated. It also means looking out for clients and customer’s interests in the best way possible, even if it means their bonus may be smaller because of it.
Service springs from the nature of the relationship. The more the people in an organization know you the more likely they care about you personally and will go the extra measure to bring a most satisfactory outcome for the client. That will never be replaced by the mechanical, 800 number approach. As the video piece points out people have the ability to support the organizations that align themselves with our values. And YES, I like to think that our organization and many other client-focused organizations similar to ours across the country exemplify those values.
1.) Here are some questions I would use to sort the best from the rest. Let me know if we can be of help.
2.) How many clients that were with you on October 2007 are still with you?
3.) What makes you special in the marketplace?
4.) Where do you see the investment markets in the next year?
5.) What communication practices do you have in place to meet client’s needs?
6.) What are your long-term and short-term plans as a firm and personally?
7.) What are your most proud of accomplishing in the last 1 – 5 years?
8.) What role does your education and experience play in how you deliver value to clients?
9.) What strategies will you focus on in the next year and decade?