I’m very happy to announce Heather Stevens and I will be releasing a new book in February called Renegade Advisor: How to Survive the Amazoning of the Financial Services Industry.
Here’s a sneak peek:
“We are doomed”
As lifelong marketing students, Heather and I are relatively immune to negative, fear-driven headlines like this. Many people predict the world’s end daily, and yet almost all live far greater than past generations. Back then we had Hitler. Today we’ve got Rocket Man. Back then we had polio. Today we have cancer. Problems come and go. Like water and basement cracks, we find a way to get through it all.
Change forces us to adapt in an almost Darwinian way.
Consider record stores. When we were all installing car phones in the late 80’s, could anyone have seen it as the demise of the music retail business as we knew it? Highly doubtful. And yet, some records stores still exist. There aren’t many, and they cater to a much smaller and different clientele. But they do live, and most likely always will. In fact, what remains today is far better than the old Sam Goody’s in the mall. Check out Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh to see what we mean.
Hopefully like you, we’re avid followers of Dan Kennedy’s work (actually, Heather borders on creepy groupie. She owns a life-size cut out of the man).
If you don’t know his work, visit www.GKIC.com.
This article, which appeared in the October 2017 edition of his NO BS newsletter, tells a disturbing tale:
Self-driving cars. Self-driving truck convoys. I won’t try scaring you about using them. I know you can hardly wait. I live in an area of the country with steep hills, winding country roads, hairpin turns, roads with cliffs, flooding, snow, ice, so I harbor extreme doubts. But I won’t try to scare you about any of that. Instead, let’s talk about money. Henry Ford was as doubted and ridiculed when he threatened to eliminate horses and buggies from the roads with his damned-fool horseless carriages. Now, inventors and companies are racing each other to replace auto and truck drivers by substituting “autonomous vehicles.”
Let’s assume it all comes to be. Henry Ford’s Revolution a history repeating itself. If it does, at a tipping point, it will accelerate, expand, and rather suddenly replace all modes of transportation utilizing humans at the controls. Its momentum is building slowly, but if and when there is ample proof the tech works and governments give a blessing, the rest will happen virtually overnight.
Ninety percent of Uber drivers removed from their gig economy incomes. Seventy percent+ of long-haul truck drivers summarily unemployed. Many who own or lease their trucks bankrupt (as Uber has done to NYC cab drivers), piling up unwanted trucks in repo lots re-sold to be re-fitted at dimes on dollars, and banks’ loans behind them uncollectible. Railroads’ freight volume cut by half, crashing their stock values, bankrupting most or all, and putting railroad engineers and maintenance workers on the unemployment line. City bus drivers, unemployed. If auto and truck accidents go away, the personal injury attorneys’ ranks fall by half, and those remaining must step up creatively suing more companies for more kinds of product injury claims – maybe yours – thus damaging the stock values of more and more companies, and creating mammoth consumer price inflation to cover the explosively multiplied liability and litigation costs. Hospitals: absent auto and truck accident victims, prices for remaining, fewer customers skyrocketed to compensate. I’d guess at least a 25 percent rise in healthcare costs. Insurers like GEICO, Progressive, State Farm lose half their auto and truck insurance revenue. Auto body shops: fast extinct. In a 24-month time window, we could see 10-million+ jobs erased, hundreds of thousands of small businesses bankrupted, many public companies in which pension and 401k money are invested lose much of their value, triggering a Dow drop to below 10,000. Maybe 5,000. If sudden enough, triggering the next Great Depression.
Looping back to Mr. Ford, he led the second American industrial revolution, setting in motion creation of a huge, robust, prosperous middle class and a gold-plated private sector retirement security system. However, he also set in motion a consolidation of capital and jobs into a single industry; auto manufacturing, with its orbiting ancillaries of steel, rubber, energy. When the Japanese auto invasion came, and the industry then went from domestic to global, and 80 percent of it moved offshore, that middle class that Ford invented was ravaged, shrunken and has never recovered. Our current economy is already dangerously dominated by a single industry: tech. The self-driving car and truck take the now separate auto manufacturing industry, railroad industry, public transportation industry and more and consolidate all into that single industry: tech. Ford, GM, Chrysler, etc. replaced by Apple, Google, Tesla, etc. – replacing 100 to 250 jobs with 1 to 5. Tying the entire stock market in which two-thirds of Americans are invested and one-third financially dependent on a handful of monopolistic global corporations atop one single industry. The concentration of capital is already apace; as of August, Apple has more cash in its coffers than J.P. Morgan/Chase Bank by a 20X multiple. Don’t worry about bank failures for the next financial system Armageddon – worry about Apple.
Let me make three points.
VISION. As an entrepreneur, you have to force yourself to see beyond the present moment; back to historical precedents, forward to the future. To see the potential ramifications from a single pebble dropped into a stream in a remote Asian village that emanates throughout the globe and into your business, living room, family and finances. See nothing as separated from everything. See the terrors unleashed with the opening of each new Pandora’s Box, as well as the opportunities. As foreseen circumstances warrant, you must be willing to create a NEW VISION for your business. Without wholesale abandonment of what works, you have to identify THE critical and most valuable thing to invent, fix, strengthen or change.
PROACTIVITY. As an entrepreneur, you must live with a constant, pressuring demanding sense of acute urgency. Anything less is nowhere near enough. The coach and quarterback who won the Super Bowl acted as if every possession of the ball in every game all year required a score. They began scheming for each opponent, not the week before that game, but throughout the offseason. The coach is developing players for four years from now at the same time he is scheming to extend the careers of the best he has now. If you can’t attend to needs of the moment and create the future at the same time, you’ll always be chasing and coping with what has already happened, making you a perennial loser.
SELF-INTEREST. No one else is ever going to care as much as you hopefully care about your interests. Any last thought that anybody in government is representing your interests should have been destroyed by the deep and systemic corruption that President Trump has laid bare. Have NO illusions. NOBODY is looking out for you. Whenever somebody says “I’m on YOUR side,” they’re positioned there to reach into your pocket and steal your wallet. You have to combine Vision and Proactivity to be aggressively advancing or at least protecting your interests.
Right now, a lot of people are scared of a lot of dumb things. They have let their time and emotional well-being be usurped by social media, driven by FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. But missing out on what? They obsess over Trump’s tweets. A rising of tides, made worse anytime Gore wades his bulk into the ocean. (Tip: move inland.) Hey, let’s worry about things we can do something about. I want you to be running scared, and not just on Halloween. Most of you can use the exercise. But more significantly, it’s the paranoid who prosper. The business genius is never just asking: how can I grow my company? … He’s asking: If I were my company’s savviest and most dangerous enemy, how would I destroy me? Of all the changing circumstances, economics, trends, where does my greatest peril lie, that I can proactively do something about?
Which brings me to the chief subject of this month’s NO BS Marketing Letter – marketing to the affluent. Several midrange restaurant chains including Chili’s and Olive Garden recently announced the closing of over 100 locations by the end of 2018. This is just one of a thousand announcements of the demise of the middle class, middle-income consumer. I began predicting this in 2004. You were warned. Now it is serious. If you are indiscriminate in choosing your customers or, worse, have your business and its marketing crafted for the middle market customers, you are headed for a whale of a lot of trouble. This mandates developing a NEW AND DIFFERENT VISION FOR YOUR BUSINESS and pursuing it PROACTIVELY; aggressively and with urgency. To use a cliché, the bottom line is: You need better, higher quality, stronger, financially affluent if not outright rich customers committed to you come hell or high water.
–Dan S. Kennedy
Compelling isn’t it? And frightening.
Throw in Schwab now manages money and rebates fees. Millenials like using low-fee robo advisors. Then there’s the DOL ruling that almost assures more lawsuits.
How can you, the financial advisor, develop and implement a new and different vision for your practice ahead of these changes?
Are we doomed? Not all of us. Some will survive. Those who do will be wildly more profitable. We’ll serve clients who want us to relieve them of their financial pain and anxieties. They won’t hire us for the products we sell. Their needs will be far greater than transactional.
To survive, we must be different. We can’t just follow the status quo because those who do will not survive the changes thrust upon them.
Instead, we must be renegades who will adopt the “against” position because truth rarely draws a crowd.
At one time, the status quo perpetuated the myth of active management, like stock picking and market timing. It failed. Now Vanguard and DFA are the dominant players, as are the advisors who refused to follow the myth.
Then the status quo pushed for index annuities, oversold by many as bonafide substitutes for equities. They preached doom and gloom as the stock market moved from 6,000 to 25,000.
Today there’s Bitcoin and other forms of cyber currency, fake forms of currency with immeasurable volatility.
Anthropologists tell us at one time both short and long neck giraffes walked the earth. Then suddenly, an outside force made life difficult for the shorties. Perhaps they weren’t as fast at escaping predators. Maybe their food supply altered. Whatever the case, they died off. We now have only long-necked giraffes. The long necks brought just enough to the party to survive. In their own way, they were renegades.
Renegades thrive as the status quo dies. Apple went from selling computers to dominating the music retail industry, killing off thousands in its wake. Amazon is making former retail giants Sears & JC Penney’s obsolete.
Our industry will be no different.
Few people are natural renegades. Society discourages a deviant behavior.
In order to move beyond the dying status quo, essential change occurs in seven areas. We look forward to taking you through them.
Note: If you’d like a free copy of Renegade Advisor, simply email your name and mailing address to: dan@AdvisorArchitect.com.