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Practice management: The elevator conversation

Imagine you and a prospect enter an elevator on the ground floor of a 100 storey hotel. Your room is on the 100th floor and the prospect's is on the 50th floor.

Thursday, September 3rd 2009, 9:14AM 5 Comments

As the elevator begins to move, the prospect asks you the dreaded question, "So, what do you do?" You now have about 60 seconds to introduce yourself, but in such an interesting way that this person does not want to get off at the 50th floor, but stays on to the 100th floor because he is filled with intrigue.

Following is the elevator conversation I use:

"Well, thank you for asking. I love what I do and I'm really excited about what I do for my clients. You see, I'm a financial architect.

"I help my clients to design and create their financial home. This home represents their future dreams and aspirations, each room perhaps representing a personal goal or ambition. Then, and only then, will we look for the financial furniture to furnish this home. The furniture will give you the comfort that your goals and aspirations for you and your family will be achieved. What we find is that most clients come to us having bought some financial furniture elsewhere, and over the years, have accumulated different types of furniture, but none of it with any strategy or coherency.

"This is bizarre; you would not buy furniture before you buy a home, would you? Yet, people do this with financial furniture. So, we'll take a look at the financial furniture that our clients have bought and see if it fits into the financial home that we've designed. If it fits, we'll keep it. But if it doesn't, we'll try to improve it or upgrade it if it is no longer suitable; you know, you wouldn't necessarily put antique furniture in a modern contemporary house, would you? And, over time, both your home and your financial home will always need maintenance, and our clients must set aside the budget for this.

"And as time goes, your life will change, as will your goals and aspirations. At such times, we will review the design of your financial home and see if it needs any changing, a little like building an extension to a home. Occasionally, your circumstances will change so dramatically, that we need to redesign a new financial home. We intend to be with you throughout each of these stages, as your maintenance engineers."

I have carefully chosen these words for many reasons, including:

  • Thanking the person for asking makes him feel good - and it makes me different.
  • Words like "love" and "excited" convey my passion for what I do.
  • The vivid concept of a "financial architect" captures their attention.
  • I don't mention a single product, so I avoid the perception of selling.
  • The words create a different sense of feelings, therefore a more favorable and desirable response.

We only get one chance to capture people's imaginations, and we don't know whether the person we meet in the elevator could be the biggest client we ever have. By carefully selecting our words, we can create a different impression and elicit a favorable positive reaction from the people we meet.

Bhupinder S. Anand, ACII, DipPFS,
is a 12-year MDRT member with four Court of the Table and seven Top of the Table qualifications. Anand was named Britain's Independent Financial Advisor of the year in 1995 by
Planned Savings magazine and was awarded Independent Financial Advisor of the Year again in 2003 by Financial Adviser newspaper. His entire 2007 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation is available at



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Comments from our readers

On 3 September 2009 at 12:24 pm Bazza said:
I'd like to see them legislate against that job title...
On 3 September 2009 at 1:26 pm dazza said:
Cat 1 or Cat 2 Bazza... or has it got its very own cat? Only in America
On 4 September 2009 at 11:59 am regan said:
Kiwis dont really want a lengthy speech like that in response to that question... do they? Christ, I would been out by the tenth floor. Does he provide a "financial mattress" for his now camatose prospect to sleep on?
On 4 September 2009 at 3:45 pm dazza said:
Well these days folk have their ipods on in the lift you' need to podcast the speech
On 10 February 2010 at 4:57 pm hoggy said:
someone give me a bucket
Commenting is closed



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