In late March, Financial Advisor touched based with an old friend, Nick Murray, and interviewed him on a number of subjects, including his latest book, The Game of Numbers: Professional Prospecting for Financial Advisors. The interview follows below.
FA: You've just written a book about prospecting. Although you've devoted some space to prospecting in your earlier books, they're much more about practice management. What prompted an entire book about prospecting?
Murray: Last fall I did an all-day intensive session in New York for my newsletter subscribers, who tend to be a pretty accomplished group. One of the follow-up services I offered was a review of the attendees' business plans. A common theme that emerged from those reviews was a desire meaningfully to expand the practice, but with no commensurate prospecting plan-just a kind of gumbo of marketing, hoped-for referrals, and osmosis. The epiphany, for me, was that prospecting anxiety is the elephant in everybody's living room.
FA: Any particular challenges in writing the book?
Murray: The challenge was to arrive at one system that would be equally useful to new advisors as well as experienced, mid-career advisors stuck on a plateau or in a "comfort zone." Once I solved that, the book basically wrote itself.
FA: Is prospecting an art or a science?
Murray: That's actually a wonderful question, and I answer it-head-on, and in exactly those words-in the book. The answer is that it's neither. It's a discipline. The system I outline in the book is directly analogous to endurance training, in which you gradually but steadily increase your capacity. Prospecting plans fail, I think, because advisors suddenly jump up off the couch after five years of watching TV and eating Ruffles, and go out and try to run marathons. They're setting themselves up to fail.
FA: Is the book specific to investment advisors?
Murray: Very definitely not; it's deliberately and even single-mindedly for all financial planners, regardless of the channel they're in.
FA: Has prospecting changed, do you think, with the advent of the Internet and Do-Not-Call?