The Financial Planning industry has come under heavy fire over the past few years. It has gone through copious amounts of change, including a massive amount of regulation increases, compliance and auditing overhauls and a rebuilding of trust with the general population.
Those who have not only survived, but have flourished during this period of uncertainty are those with integrity, drive and a phenomenal amount of personal skills.
Mel Ghadban is one of them. In the Financial Planning Industry for 17 years, Mel has navigated all sorts of financial environments for his clients.
We met Mel 6 months ago when we were looking for Beta Sales VA clients for the Financial Planning Industry. During this period we have learnt so much about the industry, it’s opportunities and challenges, that we asked to do a #dayinthelife with Mel, so that you could get your own insight as well.
Mel, what does your average day look like?
I always start the day with the gym and a coffee… but not at the same time! I then prepare for the day ahead. The more preparation that I can do for upcoming meetings, the better the outcome for both the client and I. I will do a couple of face to face meetings, with numerous calls to clients, insurers and fund managers, in between.
If you could tweak anything in the industry, what would it be?
We need to move with technology, to create more efficiency, and to deliver better services to our clients. Delivering advice via video over the internet, would be great for compliance, but we need to get our clients to trust it – and that is a big hurdle to overcome at the moment.
How do you deal with rejection?
People who aren’t in this industry are blown away when I say that I was only rejected by 1 client last year. But what people don’t understand is that 1 client requires a 30 hour investment. So I have a process where lots of questions are asked initially, along with a detailed needs analysis, which means that we don’t move past the first contact unless they are very committed.
Do you check in with social media during the day?
Not often, I only really have personal social media accounts.
When it comes to your clients, what has been the biggest difference in them and their focus, over the last 17 years?
It has always been difficult to get the husband and wife to meet at the same time, and the wife still buys emotionally, while the husband buys based on the $ investment – of course that’s a generalisation – but it’s quite a common outcome.
What’s changed is the amount of financial education brought to the table – it’s great to see that it is now pretty even between the husband and wife.
What do you love about what you do?
It sounds corny, but it’s true. Helping my clients. It’s a non-tangible investment which people only realise the benefit from when something bad happens. Getting those phone calls during those tough times, assuring them that it is handled (because of something we put in place 2 years earlier), and hearing the relief in their voice. THAT is what makes me love what I do.
What do you find challenging?
The administration and paperwork. But I’ve now got 2 things in place which help with that. The first is XPlan. The second is Sales VA.
Ok. So I’m really clear on each of these, and working hard towards them.
- A house in Morocco, with a basement full of cars, swimming pool and views of the ocean.
- A sports holiday. The English Premier League, La Liga, NBA game, NFL game, then the Monaco F1.
- McLaren P1
Who is your favourite client and why?
Now, I can’t name names. So I’ll just describe them. They are a young couple from the country, who come to the city on a regular basis. They visit, and check in, and revise and update with me just as often. And they are SO grateful. They really appreciate how much effort I go to, and the results that I get for them. That’s a really nice feeling.
What has your favourite customer experience been?
I had the best customer service experience ever in 2015. And it was all around 1 pair of shorts. You see, I went in to buy said pair of shorts. The lady introduced herself, and asked for my name. She then used my name subtly throughout the entire shopping experience. She asked fantastic questions around how I would use the shorts, how I wanted to care for them, how long I expected to wear them and about my all time favourite piece of clothing. When I was trying them on, she automatically had alternatives ready once I had finished looking at them in the mirror. It was such an easy experience and refreshing to have that level of attention in a retail environment.
As an added bonus, I bought 4 pairs of shorts AND the next time I went there, my name was remembered.
Who inspires you?
It’s no one famous! It’s the people in countries who have electricity for 6 hours a day, have unreliable food sources, uncertainty around water quality – and yet they are happy. They are happy that they have electricity for 6 hours. They are happy to have 3 ingredients to turn into a meal for their family. They are happy to to have running water, even if they have to boil it to drink.
When little nuisances come up in life that we could get ‘stressed’ over, I think about how grateful I am for the life I live and the opportunities that I do have. And I get over those little nuisances pretty quickly.
How do you keep healthy on the road?
I keep it really simple. Nuts in the car with plenty of water.
You use the XPlan CRM – what do you love about it?
I love the ease of producing a Statement of Advice. The access to everything, along with the reporting.
What challenges you about it?
That actually comes back to you, Emma. Sales VA is only just getting known in the Financial Planning industry. I really believe that the more planners that use Sales VA, in conjunction with XPlan, are going to knock their customer service AND their compliance, out of the park.
You can connect with Mel Ghadban on LinkedIn here.