From the time he entered the industry on 1 February 1971 Russell was attracted to the career path of a financial adviser specialising in risk insurance. This quickly became his passion and remained so throughout his 40 year career as a practitioner.
In 2004 he had a defining moment in relation to the all-important – but much-neglected – area of financial adviser’s communication skills, and in particular the ‘soft ‘skills. He spoke at two separate back-to-back conferences in the Australian State of Tasmania – one at the Association of Financial Advisers annual conference and the other for a major life insurance company. His topic with the former related to the initial fact-finding meeting in the personal market and for the latter, the same meeting in the business owner market.
After reviewing question time at each event he realised that both compliance and new adviser training programs had inadvertently shifted the focus of the initial fact-finding meeting away from one of relationship development to one of information gathering. As a result, for many advisers the initial meeting was developing into a clinical Q and A/tick-the-box type session, rather than a relationship building exercise.
Earlier that same year Russell had attended the annual Million Dollar Round Table Meeting in United States where one of the presenters suggested that when people meet with a Financial Adviser for the first time, they subconsciously have four questions they want answered: Do I like you? Do I trust you? Are you competent? Are you the type of person who will put my best interests before your own?
Although at that time Russell was in his 33rd year in the business he only then realised (also subconsciously) that these four questions had in fact been the “driver” for the success he had enjoyed for over three decades in his developing relationships in the initial meetings with new people.
As a consequence of that 2004 Tasmanian experience Russell set up a new business – Risk Insurance Communication Skills (RICS) – with the goal of educating both new and existing advisers in how to maximise their potential to achieve greater success, with particular emphasis on their ‘soft’ skills.