Stick to your knitting or pass on the needles

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I’ve recently seen a few things that other advisors could really learn from.

I have learned that in 11 years of providing debt collection and debt prevention systems to my clients in the Bay of Plenty, I’ve become very good at it. The value I can bring to my clients in this area is, by my estimation, unparalleled. Over the past decade or so, I’ve met with on average three businesses a day, each with their own struggles, USPs, niches, styles and approaches.

That means I have listened to more than 11,000 scenarios from nearly every industry. A typical daily snapshot looks like this: In the early morning I met with a $600 per hour commercial lawyer in a plush CBD office , mid-morning I was in a kohanga reo school discussing their errant accounts, and in the afternoon I was in a dairy shed with a man who makes synthetic cow parts for the artificial insemination Industry, discussing how to create terms of trade to protect his business.

For each industry that I work with, I research the transactional nature of the industry, the legislative requirements, and the most common points of contention that occur in those industries. If I’m to be trusted by these clients to protect them, then I make sure that I do just that.

But my real point here is that the amount of work I put in to become an expert in my field has given me enormous respect for other professionals that do the same.

We are often asked by clients to weigh in with our opinions on a variety of other business issues. We can’t be expert on all of them. Yet I’ve heard so many advisors bluff and blunder their way through giving advice they have no place giving, simply because they feel saying they don’t know will cause them to lose face.

In fact, deferring to the correct subject matter expert actually shows the ultimate respect for your client and also for the expert that you refer them to, strengthening both relationships.

Areas where we know that we lack expert knowledge give us an opportunity to show professional courtesy to our fellow advisors. We should say: “Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on that issue, but I know just the right person, and I’m sure they would be happy to discuss that with you.”

There is no shame in putting your client’s wellbeing above your own pride. It’s the difference between being a mere functionary and a trusted advisor. I know which one I would rather be.

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Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr is the director of IPI Group Limited. He can be reached on 021 876 527 and nick@nzipi.com.

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