Can basketball make you a better advisor?
In an article written for New Yorker Magazine, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of Vivek Ranadivé, founder of a Silicon Valley software company, who finds himself coaching his 12-year old daughter’s basketball team. Professionally, Ranadivé’s passion is to transform batch processing into real-time processing, a methodology designed to increase efficiency, information, and ultimately profitability. Ranadivé’s drive toward “all-things real-time” sparks an insight into the game of basketball: the court is ninety-four feet long, but on average, only twenty-four feet is defended.
Ranadivé’s solution? The full-court press, a defense that defends all ninety-four feet of the court.
In his article, Gladwell analyzes how a full-court press strategy can minimize some of the advantages a superior team possesses (One example he gives is Fordham University’s 1971 upset of the University of Massachusetts). Gladwell’s theory has been disputed, but the article raises a very legitimate question: Why don’t more teams defend all ninety-four feet?
This question applies to your work as a financial advisor. The ninety-four foot court represents the relationship potential with your clients. Unfortunately, you’re probably only covering twenty-four feet of the relationship.
Let me explain: Advisors must gather basic client information in order to effectively construct an investment portfolio. Many advisors use a simple discovery process to capture the necessary suitability requirement to engage the client (What’s the timeframe? How much money? Comfort with risk?) The typical discovery process defines the base requirement for the relationship in the same way that defending twenty-four feet of court defines the base requirement in basketball. The discovery process gathers the basics to begin a relationship, but doesn’t cover the entire court. In fact, it’s not even close.
The best advisors drive deeply into the meaning behind the money. The best advisors extend the conversation beyond the basic requirement by uncovering the why and what behind the how and when. For example:
94 Feet: What does retirement look like in your mind?
94 Feet: Why do you want to buy the vacation home in the Southwest?
By extending the conversation beyond simply what’s necessary, you can build a competitive advantage in the form of depth in the relationship and a true understanding of the meaning behind the money.
Gladwell writes, “They defended all ninety-four feet. The full-court press is legs, not arms. It supplants ability with effort.” Deepen your client relationships by defending all ninety-four feet. Put forth the extra effort to understand the true meaning behind the client’s money and you’ll find yourself in the best position to win.