How I became sold on selling


Concept illustration that uses footprints to illustrates steps to the success witch comes with the maturity of an idea.

If my family breeding and bloodlines were primed for one thing, it was a hatred of sales and advertising.

My dad was a journalist. So were his mates. And their spouses. And coincidentally, so were most of my uncles and aunties.

As a reporter and sub-editor, my dad, the Old Fart, spent his professional life fighting advertisers and salesmen – it was the job.

When he watched TV, he used the remote to mute every advertisement. But that was his second preference. His first preference was to videotape shows, so he could fast forward through the ads.

Sorry, scratch that. His first, FIRST, preference, was the ad-free ABC.

When I applied to university, and was considering a bachelor’s degree in communications, he declared that “NO SON OF MINE!” would major in advertising, public relations, “or that hippy linguistics crap”.

Journalism it had to be. And so I became, on my dad’s side, a fourth generation journalist. And there I happily stayed there for 15 years. And, I’ve got to say, being a reporter is the most fun you can have with your pants on.

Mostly, I was a finance journalist. After a while in that job, people start seeking out your financial opinion.

I thought the leap from financial journalist to financial advisor would be simple. Instead of giving advice to hundreds of thousands, via the pages of a newspaper, I could give advice to one or two at a time.

Philosophically, I was comfortable with the decision. I wasn’t becoming a “salesman”. I was becoming a financial “adviser”. Advisers, like lawyers and accountants, don’t sell. Or so I told myself. They advise. And people pay for that advice.

I actively fought against becoming a salesman. And I fought. And fought. And I’ve never given up.

I started my own business still fighting against being a salesman. Quality of advice. Passion about what I was doing. Being happily prepared to lose money on a client, rather than selling something, or a solution, they didn’t need.

For every 10 people who have come to see me wanting to open a SMSF, I’ve helped open about one out of those 10. Because, for most of them, a SMSF was the wrong solution.

Index funds over active managers. Strategic and structural advice, over stupid promises about crystal balls and seeing into the future. A neverending quest for knowledge. Continuing education.

Purity. Sanctity. Integrity.

But, holy crap, I’ve learned a lot in this last decade. About life. About myself. About running a business. About staff (great, good and evil). And about the humans that I share the earth with.

It turns out (derr!) that “sales” and “advertising” aren’t the devils I’d been indoctrinated to believe they were. And, disappointingly, I now understand that most people don’t care overly about money, or politics.

There’s also something I accept now I would never have accepted 10 years ago. Being a salesman is an essential element of being a good adviser.

Some advisers are extremely knowledgeable. But if they can’t convince you, the client, why you need to accept the advice … they’re not doing their job.

If you’re looking for an adviser, here are the four elements of a good financial adviser. In my humble opinion.

Knowledge: An adviser who doesn’t know his stuff … simply walk away. Knowing the laws and the landscape is absolutely crucial.

Compassion/Empathy: An adviser needs to understand your situation, your age, your stage of life.

“Relative” grey hair: If you’re really young, your adviser needs to be older than you. That is, if you’re 45 and the adviser sitting in front of you is 25, they can’t understand what you’re going through. They need more grey hair/knowledge than you. If you’re in your 50s or older, and they’re their 30s or 40s, they should, at least, have plenty of experience with clients who are going through what you’re going through.

Sales: This is the bit that I’ve been late to the party on. But here’s my spin. Sales is, partially, about inspiring you. If your adviser doesn’t inspire you – with their knowledge or their passion – then continue your search.

The fact is, everyone could benefit from having a financial adviser. No exceptions.

Finding a financial adviser you can work with comes down to connecting with one that you trust, that understands you, that you can work with. There’s no such thing as the “perfect” financial adviser. Because what’s perfect for one person will fail to be in-synch with someone else.

Bruce Brammall is the author of Mortgages Made Easy and managing director of Bruce Brammall Financial. E:

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