The story of Alka's signature

imgbd MasterMind is a joint initiative between Sundaram Mutual and Wealth Forum, in which we offer insights into how you can become a more effective advisor to your clients, by understanding them better, understanding how they think, understanding how they take financial decisions. This gateway into your clients' minds we believe will help you relate better to them, communicate more effectively with them and thus serve them better. Mastering your client's mind is your gateway to becoming a more successful advisor. Its not for nothing that they say, "Its all in the mind!"

This is a fictional story of Alka's first signature and the incredible power that an innocent scrawl of a 7 year has in making financial plans successful over 10-15 years and in building the business of financial advisors who recognize its power.

This is a fictional story - but one that we hope will be a story that each advisor in our business can tell about his or her own firm, some day.

Sanjay Mehta sat nervously at the reception of Mr. Iyer's office. Suresh Iyer was not only a successful lawyer, but also headed an active association of legal professionals - all of whom were right up on Sanjay's target client list for his firm, Mehta Financial Advisors. "If I can crack Mr. Iyer's account, I can make good inroads into another 75" thought Sanjay as he waited for his appointment with Mr. Iyer. He had done his groundwork well - got an appointment to meet Mr.Iyer through a common friend, sent him an introductory letter and brochure a week in advance, called his office a day before to reconfirm the appointment - and here he was now, waiting at the reception, 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

Suresh Iyer glanced up at the clock - it was time to meet this chap Sanjay who his friend Rahul had asked him to meet. Suresh wasn't really looking for an advisor, but he couldn't say no to Rahul. And, to be fair, this chap Sanjay had been quite professional in his approach - let's get done with this quickly, he thought. Now, where was that brochure that Sanjay had sent, he thought, as he flipped through the papers on his desk. It would after all be impolite to say that he has not even seen it, when it was sitting somewhere on his desk for a week! He found the brochure, flipped open the first page with a distracted look, aiming to get done with skimming through it in 1 minute. But the first page arrested his attention - he read every word, and at the end of the first page, he found himself smiling. He was suddenly looking forward to meeting this Sanjay chap. He asked his secretary to show Sanjay in, and when Sanjay walked in, he welcomed him warmly saying, "Hi Sanjay, I'm Suresh. That's a neat story you've got in your brochure!"

What was the story that swung Suresh Iyer from a "not-interested" prospect to a positively inclined prospect? Here's what was written in the first page of the brochure of Mehta Financial Advisors.

The story of Alka's signature

"I remember the day when Sanjay Mehta created this savings plan for my daughter Alka, 14 years ago. She was just a 7 year old kid in 2nd standard, and Sanjay was already talking to me about planning for her graduation and her marriage! I dismissed his suggestions initially saying "Abhi to bacchi hai!". But his sheer persistence made me think that I better heed his advice and start planning for these expenses - which frankly I could not relate to when I saw her playing on the slide outside. When Sanjay made Alka's plan, he made me sign it, made my wife Pooja sign it and then went over to Alka and told her, "Alka, this is your plan - I want you to sign it". Alka didn't know what Sanjay uncle was talking about, so he taught her to write down her name with a flourish with a huge "A" just like her mother's signature which started with a huge "P". That was Alka's first signature!

Over the last 14 years, like all families, we too had our financial ups and downs, we too witnessed our investments swing with markets. There were many occasions when I exited my investments for various reasons - but whenever I even thought of stopping those SIPs in Alka's plan when markets were crashing, all that Sanjay would do was to show me the original signed plan with Alka's signature on it. I could never bring myself to disturb any part of this plan - which had my daughter's first ever signature on it!

Yesterday, at Alka's wedding reception, Sanjay gave Pooja a photo frame. She looked at it, and a tear immediately rolled down her cheeks. I took a look at the frame - it was the original plan that we all signed 14 years ago - with Alka's first signature still clearly visible! Had it not been for this plan and Alka's signature on it, we wouldn't have been able to save and invest as wisely as Sanjay made us do. I wouldn't have been able to pay the capitation fees for her medical studies and today, I would not be standing here, having successfully conducted her marriage with no debts on my head, and without touching my PF account like so many of my colleagues had to. Thank you Sanjay!"

Right next to this story, was a picture taken at Alka's wedding - the young couple, the parents and Sanjay handing over the frame to Pooja.

What did Sanjay do differently?

Sanjay took a financial plan and made it priceless, by not only naming it Alka's plan, but teaching Alka to sign and getting her to put her first ever signature onto the paper which had her plan. The plan now became sacrosanct for the family - no bull or bear market could ever touch it. Alka's signature was more powerful in maintaining discipline that any number of charts and graphs that Sanjay could ever have shown the family about the merits of staying invested for the long term. What Sanjay did was to very effectively move from left brain rationale (charts and data) to right brain emotions (your daughter's plan, with her first signature on it - how can you not honour that commitment?).

And then, he put this story on his brochure, with a picture of him at Alka's wedding, handing over the framed plan to Pooja. The story and the picture make his proposition infinitely more appealing than any ordinary brochure which otherwise talks about robustness of your financial planning process. Sanjay is clearly appealing to the right brain of prospects like Suresh Iyer with this story testimonial as page 1 of his brochure, rather than appealing to the left brain with material that describes his financial planning process.

If you were in Suresh Iyer's place, having read page 1 of this brochure, would you not be interested in meeting Sanjay Mehta? That's the power of little Alka's first signature!

All content in MasterMind is created by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as an opinion of Sundaram Mutual Fund.

Share this article