If only making money were truly interesting, laments Peter Switzer

Not long ago, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph showed government pointy-heads how to
promote a worthwhile cause when it talked about how the Federal Government,
following its Cooper Review into superannuation, was going to make super sexy!

there’s someone thinking about their target audience. The lesson could also be
used by the financial planning community, because there is a tragic lack of
understanding in Australia about what financial planners can actually do for clients.

Of course, the Federal Government should be applauded for having an “Understanding
Money” website – www.understandingmoney. gov.au – but like a lot of public
sector initiatives, these websites are not properly marketed to the people who
could get some real value out of them.

The Australian Securities and Investments
Commission (ASIC) has a great website to help investors, savers and consumers,
but they called it FIDO! I bet if you asked 100 people the name of ASIC’s
website, designed to help and protect you from shonks and dodgy operators, you would
be lucky to find 10 people who know it.

Similarly with that great consumer
advocate group – Choice. Too few people think about and use their services; and
this not-for-profit group, like the Government, has a marketing problem.

is needed is a serious marketing program, much like the very successful
industry fund ads, which compared long-run returns for super savers inside and
outside an industry fund. The bang the industry fund groups got for those ads
shows what the Federal Government and its Financial Literacy Foundation need to
aspire to in trying to promote the “Understanding Money” website.

Grunstein, who is one of Australia’s best customer service business speakers,
always reminds business owners that their marketing has to answer one very
important question: “Why should I buy from you?”

The industry fund ads answer
it by showing how much someone could save if they switched. The Government’s
website does no memorable public advertising.

I reckon as people get into their
40s and approach those 10 years before retirement, then understanding money
becomes a more interesting topic; but most Aussies either go to a planner or
throw up their hands and hope nothing goes wrong.

The latter group is much,
much bigger than the wise people who seek out professional help. And part of
the reason is that our industry has not been good at answering the question: “Why
should I buy from you?”

Regrettably, many people have, by default, answered the
all-important marketing question with: “I won’t buy from you because I don’t
trust you.

I believe these people don’t really want to understand money – they
think that sounds boring. What they want is to get richer, and they want to do
it as safely as possible.

When it comes to financial literacy or helping Aussies
with their super and retirement plans, the Federal Government needs to make the
deal more sexy and alluring, because the end results are so important.

we as financial planners have to make our services more attractive and sexy; but
it should not be based on promises of big returns, using margin loans and
ridiculously risky products.

It is time we started selling the really sexy bits
of our industry: the goal-setting; the modelling of our clients’ alternative
futures; the choices between buying a property, investing in shares or funds,
and/or even paying off our houses in double quick time.

What most people
nowadays have latched onto is the idea of a coach – a fitness coach, a diet coach,
an executive coach – and so we should be money coaches, and not the boring, old
and oftmaligned title of financial planner.

When, as a group, we build a new
reputation as money coaches who help make our clients richer – as safely as
possible – then we will end up with a sexy reputation and the customers will follow.

Peter Switzer is founder of fee-for-service financial planning firm Switzer Financial Services and hosts SWITZER on Sky News Business Channel

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