Saturday, November 22, 2008

Morning Session #1: Matthew Upchurch

It all started when Meg North (then as Destinations, Inc.) joined API. After the merger with Brownell, there was a major challenge. Brownell was a member of the AMEX consortium. Meg threw down the gauntlet -- "come to Birmingham and convince Troy to join API". It felt like Matthew was wearing a target on his back. Luckily, the partnership was formed.
"The most important trip you make is the one from agent to advisor"
This is a new Virtuoso initiative is led by Troy and it is the "final frontier". How do we avoid becoming a commodity? This is it...

Steps on this journey start with this question "what are you selling?" The answer? "YOU!" You are the product. YOU create unique experiences in the way clients interact with you. A unique experience is the opposite of a commodity experience. Every industry struggles to avoid becoming a commodity. We must avoid become a victim of commoditization.

The current model: I will do all these things for you -- and get paid at the end. Even if you don't charge up front (and you should), you must understand how much service you are providing all along the way. When you charge for planning, there is a huge (positive) psychological impact. Even if you don't charge, your clarity about your unique process will demonstrate your value.

Create your own unique process. Think about the uniqueness you bring to working with your clients and bring it into the process as you build their experience. Our challenge is to change the conversation with our clients from mostly reactive to actively and consistently proactive. One way to think about this is "What if this volatility becomes the norm?" Being a commodity in a deflationary time is not a good place to be. Be advisors providing customers with direction, confidence, and capability.

"What's your return on life?" campaign in response to current financial situation. Studies show that the affluent are prioritizing experiences over "stuff".

On Wed Matthew was asked by MSNBC. "When it comes to travel this year, I am especially thankful for...". His response (paraphrase) When it comes to travel this year, I am especially thankful for how travel has impacted who I am as well as my family. I barely remember xmas presents but marvel at the detail and emotions of amazing trips we've taken together...

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