Knowing that at the time the survey was being conducted the industry was in the throes of tremendous upheaval, the findings still revealed a host of information about the state of financial services wholesaling.
One chart from the survey results stood out for me: Reasons Why a Wholesaler Would Leave a Firm.
It compares the reasons wholesalers gave for why they would leave with the perceived reasons managers gave for why their folks would make a change.
As an example, 72% of sales managers believe wholesalers would leave for higher compensation – and so do 71% of wholesalers.
In looking through the chart data one point leapt out at me as a reason why people leave, and it is something that is completely controllable.
‘Lack of firm vision/strategy’ had a huge disconnect. Only 28% of sales managers thought it would be a reason for defections but a full 50% of wholesalers surveyed citied it as a reason to leave.
Separately a shorespeak survey of wholesalers, that’s is still open for polling, says that a full 69% of wholesalers are contemplating a change to a new firm in 2010 and that the number one reason, given by 35.8% of respondents, is ‘Management direction of firm’.
So is it that the firm lacks direction and/or vision or is it that managers have room to improve in communicating that direction?
Based on the breadth of the two surveys I suppose the answer is yes.
Yes, there are a host of firms that are in need of a better strategic rudder to navigate the ship.
More likely though the leaders in the c-suite, and on the ground, need to keep a better eye on how their vision/strategy/direction is cascading down to employees. Especially those employees, like wholesalers, that don’t have the same benefits of receiving home office messaging in the same manner (or with the same frequency) as home office employees.
How often is the strategic message of the firm, the channel, or the division communicated to the field?
If this critical message is left to the annual state of the company union, or as an email add on to the CEO’s quarterly earnings call replay, the message will not stick and wholesalers will become disconnected from the vision.
What forms of communication are used?
Too frequently the message is delivered by the CEO and left to be communicated by other managers down the line. Human nature says that the message will be further interpreted and edited as it makes its way through the firm
A memo is not an effective communication tool. Neither is an email.
Conference calls are better. Video conferencing is better still. Small group meetings, town hall functions, c-suite leaders on an occasional wholesaler conference call. All of these promote the message sharing and intimacy that helps get the message through successfully.
What can field managers do to keep the connection between the big picture and the local business engagement alive?
In the wholesaler annual review process, quarterly check points, manager ride-along reports, and telephone interactions managers have an opportunity to tie the local message to the firm’s overall direction.
As much as wholesalers appreciate the independent nature of the position and will state they are fine with being ‘left alone’ perhaps firm’s need to make greater efforts to get the message of the vision, the direction or the strategy out to the field, in a way that sticks, sooner rather than later.
Attn: Divisional Mangers, Channel Managers, National Sales Managers – There is a NEW Mastermind Group starting soon just for you. Modeled after the wildly successful Wholesaler Masterminds, Manager Masterminds is a place for managers to meet one per month with peers and a professional coach. Get more information here.
If you’re a past or present Wholesaler be sure to join Wholesaler Masterminds on LinkedIn – it will soon become the only LinkedIn group that will post these stories.