Lessons from a Financial Adviser

When my father passed away a little more than two years ago, at the age of 67 (from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema), it was difficult. One small silver development (aka Silver Linings Playbook ) was being informed that there was an IRA at Edward Jones (in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri) with my name on it. More important than just the ‘dollar value’ of the IRA I would soon be reminded how important ‘personalization’ could be for fostering meaningful business relationships.

Importance of Personalization Can’t be Understated

In the tradition of so many baby boomers, my father didn’t disclose much about money, we never talked about inheritances or his plans for family heirlooms. This just wasn’t done in ‘polite company’ and, honestly I felt I wasn’t owed anything from my parents. Getting me to adulthood successfully was more than adequate–and clearly not always easy.

I may not have known “the what” but I did know “the who”, who was managing my father’s money. My dad was quite the storyteller and so over the years I had heard several anecdotes regarding how much my dad trusted, respected, and liked personally his financial adviser Tim Dolan.

Also, I knew of several occasions, over a long stretch, where Tim helped my dad weather the turbulent storms of the stock market and come out on the other side in good shape. I looked forward to meeting Tim and little did I know how fruitful and informative getting to know Mr. Dolan would be.

In meeting Tim an important business lesson was reinforced that is directly connected to professional recruiting: Personalized attention is pivotal. When I met with Tim we immediately bonded by talking about our passion for pro football. I grew up in Kansas City and was (and still am) a die hard Chiefs fan–so is Tim. In 2003 I moved to Seattle but still have family/roots in Kansas City and still follow the Chiefs very closely.

JCappsLeeCappsChiefsGame1993I told Tim about my experiences in football officiating-namely having the opportunity to officiate Seattle Seahawk practices and working for the Seahawks chain crew. And, of course, we also connected easily because we talked about my dad. Tim was able to relay a couple of meaningful stories about dad at a time when it comforted me greatly to hear it.

After chatting for about an hour Tim let me know about the IRA and indicated that since I lived on the West coast I could transfer the account to an adviser in Seattle if I wanted to. I knew immediately that wasn’t going to happen, I was thrilled to have Tim as my financial adviser. I walked out of his office and felt energized and hopeful.

 

What Happens When It Has Been Awhile?

Several months later I called Tim to chat about a few financial questions I had. A mere millisecond into the call, Tim exclaimed, “How in the world did the Seahawks manage to lose Super Bowl XLIX? I couldn’t believe what happened at the end of that game!” I indicated I had no earthly idea either why they threw the ball instead of ran the ball (which subsequently lead to a costly interception that decided the game).

Tim then asked specific questions about my family, my football officiating, my job and so on. Tim was recalling specific personal information about me. Fifteen to twenty minutes later we finally got to the purpose of the call and my questions were expertly answered.

After I hung up the phone that day I again felt energized, inspired, and motivated. I wondered, “Tim has hundreds and hundreds of clients how in the world did he remember such specific details of my life?” My guess was he uses a tracking system where he inputs notes about his clients.

What was so appealing about my interaction with Tim? His aptitude for ‘Personalization‘ – on reflection it became obvious why he is such a successful financial adviser. Incidentally, psychologists have studied the ‘phenomena’ I am describing when researching the Vagus Nerve – scientifically showing the satisfaction we gain by being selfless and showing compassion (clearly in the same vein as ‘Personalization’).

Recruiters should take note, as personalization could be a differentiating factor for your success as well. When you interact with clients, are you actively engaged in their lives (asking pertinent questions)? Can you recall specific details that are important to your clients? Do you actively work at exemplifying the traits of personalization? What are the traits of personalization you ask?

Primary Traits of ‘Personalization’

  • Easy to Talk to
  • Genuinely Caring/Compassionate
  • Finds Common Ground
  • Makes others feel Valued
  • Provides others Positive Energy
  • Even when a lengthy amount of time has passed – Remembers and connects back to what the client values
  • Provides personalized attention and Cares about the Lives of Others

Your HR Technology Should Foster ‘Personalization’

So, what does this have to do with HR Tech for professional recruiters? Recruiting is inherently a people business and the best recruiters are “people-people.” The tools great recruiters select need to align with this fact and enable, not hinder the process. Even if you possess a photographic memory it is impossible to keep straight the specific details of the lives of all of your candidates and clients.

The process of say, jotting down notes, should be easy and streamlined into the personal interactions you are already doing; as you meet, call, and interview folks. Then, just as importantly, you must be able to easily find and search these notes later so you can refer back to them at any time. Prior to a meeting with a candidate or client you can quickly pull up their record and review all of the vital information about them; so that your experience with them will leave them feeling energized, inspired, and excited.

Personalization is an important part of professional recruiting and having access to the best tools is key, but having the right mindset and rigor to keep and use these notes is also critical. It must be very easy to stay connected and remember key aspects of your candidates and clients lives. When you hit your stride, you should have your candidates’ “Vagas Nerve” firing, meaning they will leave your office like I left Tim Dolan’s office–by being impressed, inspired, and highly motivated to continue the relationship well into the future.

 

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