Sue Read, consultant, Marshall James & Co
It\'s good to talk, so they say. Wasn\'t that in a BT advert? Several years ago I suffered from a mysterious persistent cough. After trying all sorts of medicines, linctuses and lozenges I trotted off to the doctor who was baffled. I then went through the gamut of hospital tests and treatments, X-rays, chest clinics and steroids. Nobody ever did find the reason for it and nothing ever cured it. But eventually it went away on its own. The only explanation that anyone could reasonably proffer was that I use my voice all the time for my job and that I simply talked too much – no comments from colleagues here please. I spend hours every day talking to people. Clients, lenders, colleagues, solicitors – endless discussion and explanation are what this job is about. Of course I write things down too. I enjoy writing this column and you will empathise when I mention the endless compliance paperwork that has to be completed, but verbal communication is at the heart of the job. It’s easy to forget that our business essentially boils down to that. It’s also easy to forget to talk. By that I mean talking about our business, letting people know what we do and networking. Some people I know are exceptional at getting business this way. I’m not too bad at this, but I could be better. The other day I was at the hairdresser. All women readers of Mortgage Strategy will understand when I say that when you have a head full of foil, about the last thing you think of discussing is mortgage work. So my hairdresser and I went through the usual topics – holidays, handbag, men, children, what pop festivals we’re going to – well, what pop festivals she’s going to – and then she asked me to remind her what I do for a living. Yes, of course, I’m Mrs Mortgage. Fabulous. She and her boyfriend are thinking about buying a home together. We had an in-depth discussion about the options available, being an independent adviser and what insurances are necessary. She’s going to call me soon. Across the room the other hairdresser’s ears obviously pricked up. She’s been looking for mortgage advice and didn’t know where to go. Friends and family couldn’t help. She’d spent the morning going through Yellow Pages but was reluctant to trust anyone she hadn’t met or been recommended to. She’s ringing me soon too. So I obtained two potential clients while sitting there, just by being willing to talk. I’m not going to suggest that we all march out into the big wide world with evangelical zeal and bore everyone we meet by banging on about our industry. And I do realise that telling people you are a financial or mortgage adviser can be akin to saying you sell double glazing. But what I am saying is that by discretely mentioning what you do you can build your client bank. And don’t be afraid to ask for referrals too – satisfied clients will always remember a good job, even if it’s some considerable time down the line. I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks so I’ll be resting my voice for a bit. On second thoughts, maybe I’ll take a couple of business cards with me.