financial planning

Insurance Agents Name Choices – Insurance Specialist, Financial Planner, or Life Advisor? Financial Planning

Are you one of the plain insurance agents? Agents often prefer to upgrade their title as an insurance specialist or financial advisor on their business card. Names like life advisor reflect positive experience and knowledge. Which of these different terms distinguishes you from being just one of the insurance agents? Here are 101 top choices to pick from.

There is a lot more to a name then may realize. Calling yourself an agent or sales agent makes you sound run of the mill. It also projects the sound of a salesman trying to sell you something. Few people enjoy feeling a person is selling them anything, it stinks of pressure. This is why in this list of different terms you will see how high words like specialist, expert, and professional rank. The prospect gets a completely new perspective, just by the title you give yourself! Prospects closely take notice when an agent jointly works with them in reaching a decision on what is the best plan of action. Prospective clients want to feel like they are part of the decision process.

Important internet search tip: to get an accurate count use quote marks around your term, “insurance specialist” will only give you that term in that exact order. Without the quotes you would also get all instances of people searching terms such as specialist insurance, specialist in writing insurance claims, specialist in automobile insurance sales, etc.

To give this article value, in front of each of the insurance agents distinctions is the number of current Google listings. This way you can easily see how often internet views “insurance agent ” look-up terms like specialist, planner, representative, and. advisor. Please remember the Google count figures often change daily.

1. 10,600,000 = financial advisor

2. 6,690,000 = insurance agent

3. 4,280,000 = financial planner

4. 2,120,000 = investment advisor

5. 1,780,000 = insurance agents brokers

6. 1,600,000 = investment adviser

7. 999,000 = insurance guide

8. 735,000 = insurance specialist

9. 638,000 = financial expert

10. 604,000 = financial professional

11. 590,000 = financial specialist

12. 513,000 = life pro

13. 433,000 = insurance professional

14. 431,000 = health insurance agent

15. 322,000 = insurance expert

16. 271,500 = insurance salesman

17. 269,000 = life professional

18. 268,000 = life insurance agent

19. 253,000 = insurance consultant

20. 252,000 = insurance advisor

21. 244,000 = insurance sales representative

22. 219,000 = insurance manager

23. 218,000 = estate advisor

24. 217,000 = insurance executive

25. 189,000 = estate planner

26. 186,000 = independent insurance sale

27. 179,000 = insurance sales agent

28. 155,000 = insurance seller

29. 130,000 = insurance producer

30. 126,000 = investment representative

29. 120,000 = insurance authority

30. 119,000 = insurance representative

31. 112,000 = life agent

32. 107,000 = life insurance specialist

32. 104,000 = life specialist

33. 102,000 = insurance adviser

34. 89,900 = insurance sales manager

35. 86,200 = licensed insurance agent

36. 85,200 = insurance manager

37. 71,000 = health agent

38. 66,600 = insurance pro

39. 65,100 = insurance sales rep

40. 60,000 = insurance designer

41. 59,400 = insurance sales person

42. 55,600 = life consultant

43. 54,500 = group agent

44. 52,200 = ins agent

45. 50,100 = estate adviser

46. 50,000 = insurance pros

47. 46,800 = insurance counselor

48. 43,800 = financial pro

49. 43,400 = insurance salesperson

50. 40,200 = insurance sales specialist

51. 37,700 = life producer

52. 37,000 = insurance sales executive

53. 35,400 = independent insurance brokers

54. 34,700 = long term care professional

55. 34,500 = financial planning advisor

56. 33,900 = medical insurance specialist

57. 31,300 = health insurance professional

58. 29,300 = life insurance expert

59. 29,000 = insurance rep

60. 28,900 = financial planning advisor

61. 27,500 = health insurance specialist

62. 26,000 = health insurance advisor

63. 25,500 = independent insurance professional

64. 24,700 = employee benefits specialist

65. 24,000 = life advisor

66. 22,900 = life insurance advisor

67. 21,800 = life insurance sales specialist

68. 19,900 = life insurance professional

69. 19,300 = insurance producer

70. 19,200 = licensed financial planner

71. 16,200 = health insurance producer

72. 14,900 = insurance sales consultant

73. 14,000 = term life insurance broker

74. 12,800 = long term care specialist

75. 12,700 = annuity specialist

76. 12,500 = estate planning specialist

77. 12,200 = insurance marketer

78. 11,950 = life insurance representative

79. 11,900 = insurance planner

80. 10,600 = insurance sales professional

81. 10,400 = life insurance advisor

82. 10,200 = insurance writer

83. 9,650 = insurance recruiter

84. 9,480 = financial planning advisor

85. 9,030 = estate planning advisor

86. 8,570 = annuity broker

87. 7,520 = insurance general manager

88. 7,070 = insurance trainee

89. 6,800 = long term care insurance specialist

90. 6,670 = term life insurance agent

91. 6,440 = long term care insurance agent

92. 5,870 = licensed life agent

93. 5,300 = financial insurance agent

94. 5,270 = annuity agent

95. 5,080 = ins professional

96. 5,030 = medical insurance professional

97. 5,010 = disability insurance agent

98. 4,990 = employee benefits professional

99. 4,430 = mortgage insurance agent

100. 4,200 = disability insurance specialist

101. 3,900 = long term care agent

For your own sake, never tell prospective clients that you are one of 1,500,000 insurance agents licensed to sell life, health, annuities, and financial policies. The term insurance specialist or insurance professional immediately makes your prospect more confident of your abilities. However, please do not use the overused and abused terms of financial planner or estate planner unless you actually are qualified to be one.

If case, you are interested, here are more titles with over 1,000 Google entry occurrences that did not make the top 101 list. They include group health professional, ins specialist, insurance marketing representative, health insurance adviser, ins representative, term life insurance specialist, mortgage life insurance agent, insurance marketing specialist, disability insurance broker, life ins agent, term life agent, senior market specialist, life investment adviser, MDRT insurance agent, and insurance saleswoman.

Should you want to get more attention on major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Ask, here are some tips. On the front of your website entry page, use the title and first line to put a more descriptive term about the services you provide. Rather than announcing “insurance agent for many products”, try this, “medical insurance professional and disability insurance specialist.” Both these titles only have about 5,000 competing entries, which could include 3,500 to 4,000 weak ones each. Now it depends on following the advice given, and internet search engine skills you possess. An internet searcher might now find you in the top 100 listings for each of the terms! On an “insurance agent” search, with well over 6,000,000 listings, it might take a 24/7 week to find you listed toward the end of the heap.

financial planning

Basic Steps on Becoming a Self Proclaimed Millionaire Financial Planning

In my business of coaching people on how to earn money online, many have ask me on how one get to be a self proclaimed millionaire. Looking for a formula on how to gain wealth and attaining financial freedom. If we look deeply, many self proclaimed millionaires have the same steps on how they get to accumulate their millions. Here’s how they do it, a Seven- step formula of becoming a self proclaimed millionaire.

First step: The Million-Dollar Mindset

Adopting the million- dollar mindset is the first thing on attaining financial stability. Adopting the million- dollar mindset is particularly easy but you just have to do it. The problem in adopting this mindset is that in the first place you are not a millionaire, in order to become one you need to think like one. There are a lot of differences that you can differentiate a millionaire from an average person like you. Self proclaimed millionaires can spot new opportunities very well and can take that opportunity to a higher financial asset to them. Thus you need to simply adapt to these beliefs and habits so you get to have the keen eye for opportunities that will also get you to become a self proclaimed millionaire.

Second step: Set Financial Goals

Be specific when it comes to setting goals. Cause this is the one important thing for you to do. Most people fail to realize is that wealth and success are made by chance. If you look to a successful and wealthy individual you might see that they have a specific and clear financial goal. Visualizing themselves on how to become rich. This is where most people failed to do, setting up their own financial goals.

Well, what do I mean by setting a clear financial goal? Thus it means that earn money as much as possible? Most people tend to create goals without a clear idea on how much wealth they can attain and that are too great to be achieved. Having a specific financial target is all you need; this allows you to develop strategies and plans for you to be able to achieve it.

For an instance, your goal is to earn $500,000 when the year ends, then what will be your strategies in attaining this goal? You get to earn this income by becoming a niche marketer or affiliate marketer. But if you want to double that goal, let’s say $1,000,000, and then you will need to employ another strategy. You can start by making your own company. Selling your own products and services or other way is to invest to other businesses. Having a clear idea on what financial goal you want to have, and then you may create your own comprehensive plan and formulate strategies to be able to achieve it.

Third Step: Developing a Financial Plan

Creating the financial target is one thing but making a plan out of it is another. A specific and effective plan to achieve your goals is the next step on becoming a self proclaimed millionaire. Just make sure your plan is clear and concise in order for those goals to be attained.

Let’s say you are planning to get to double your financial goal that you had set in the first place. You may able to get this by formulating other forms of money making strategies that is to be added to your existing form of money making.

Always take time and effort to create a plan that lets you achieve your financial goals that you had set.

Fourth step: Massively Build Up your Income

Having the right financial plan still doesn’t get you to be a self proclaimed millionaire. Most people get to be discouraged when they see a plan that needs years to achieve.

Please don’t shy away; there are tons of ways you can learn to accelerate your earnings. The internet offers a lot of strategies and proven methods on how to massively increase your income. Not by just 10%, 20% or 50% what I mean is doubling, tripling or even multiple increase. All you need to do is learn and create multiple ways of income that can be added to your business.

Fifth step: Handle you money and reduce your expenses

After setting up your financial goals and having a solid plan does not mean your road to success is already clear. The way to becoming a self proclaimed millionaire is still very bumpy and rough. Which people fail to acknowledge that increasing your earnings is only half of the whole picture. A person earning a six digit income doesn’t mean he is wealthy, still he can still be considered to be broke.

It is not how largely you earn, but how you control your expenses matter’s more. You will still need up to be flat broke if you have more expenses than your total earnings. Managing your money is the key to becoming a self proclaimed millionaire. The more you save your money and the higher you earn leads you to becoming a self proclaimed millionaire.

Sixth step: Investing Your Money

As soon you learn how to manage your money and to lower your expenses, you must teach yourself to use the surplus that you have. Cause no matter how much money you save and earn, becoming a self proclaimed millionaire can only be reach when you learn how to use your money. You must learn how to make your money grow more returning much more money.

Investing is one of the many ways you can use your money. Which you let your money, make money. So you get to have more earning in your money as well.

Lastly and the Seventh step: Look after Your Wealth

Protecting one’s wealth is the last step in order for you to become a self proclaimed millionaire.

financial planning

A Simple 4-Step Approach to Sales Success For Financial Advisors Financial Planning

If you are a financial advisor who has ever struggled when dealing with wealthy prospective clients, then what you need is a process or formula to follow that will enhance your success. About the only more frustrating than not having enough appointments, is blowing them when given the opportunity. That’s where a formula comes in.

With formulas, all the typical human-error is removed. It’s replicatable. It’s like 2+2. When I do it I get 4. You do it, you get 4. You see, if you know that a formula works – virtually anyone with a pulse can ‘plug-in’ to the formula and get the same results. If you haven’t reduced everything you do in your business to some type of formula…then you’re working too hard and will never get predictable results.

And with the right “formula” your results can become mucho-predictable. You will know exactly how many new clients and new money under management you’ll have in two months; or 6 months; or 6 years for that matter. It’s easy and I’ll show you how and why it works for anybody, anywhere, all the time.

So let’s get to what I call the Million Dollar Sales Formula…

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #1:

We’ve all had prospects that no matter how much we know they should work with us, for some reason or another choose not to. Often times financial advisors will beat themselves up chasing the prospect, trying to figure out what went wrong – and almost always think it’s because either: A) The client’s an idiot (which is sometimes true) or B) We said something wrong in our meetings/sales process

I on the other hand would contend that most our our sales failures in financial services is due to something we did far earlier than when we asked for the business (you are asking for the business, right?). Through extensive trial and error, what I’ve found is that we fail to make the appropriate ‘first impression’ before the meeting process has even begun. And that’s why we lose clients that should never be lost.

How do you fix this?

By making sure you send out a packet to all prospects prior to them meeting with you. When done correctly this ‘packet’ can literally close 32.4% of the prospects before they even meet with you. I know, I’ve measured with and without and can substantiate that exact number. Let me share with you the pre-meeting components that must be executed to significantly increase your closing ratio:

An appointment reminder letter with map to your office along with instructions of what your prospect needs to do to be properly prepared for the meeting. Think of this as a welcome letter and short home-work assignment to ensure both their and your time is well spent. The cover letter should be printed on a professionally designed letterhead with a professionally designed logo, and should have your website address on it. Which, by the way, you should absolutely have a website – and it should look good and serve a purpose. To see what I mean feel welcome to visit my firm’s website – there’s a link with my bio.

A Confidential Personal Profile. This is what they put their name, date of birth, children’s first names, and the like on. It should be no more than one page and should also ask for the names of their current broker, advisor (these are different and will make your client decide exactly what their current “advisors” are in their eyes), attorney, accountant and insurance agent. In the same section you should also give the your prospect a satisfaction scale of 1 – 5 to rate their current financial professionals.

A Confidential Financial Profile. Now this is basically what it says it is – a place for them to answer a few thought provoking financial questions, create an income statement and a balance sheet. You should also always ask what they would change about their financial situation if they could change just one thing, as well as what is truly important about money to them. The responses they give to this questionairre will prove vitally important in your meetings (note that I said ‘meetings’, not your one-shot-wonder single appointment slam-dunk appointment).

Your PROFESSIONAL business card. Don’t try to be cute, please don’t put your picture on it, and don’t print your own. Your card should be on par with the finest law firm in your city, town, village, tribe…whatever. If this all sounds like a lot of work – it is!! But well worth it once you close your first BIG client.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #2:

The Initial Meeting and Most Important 45 Minutes of Your Sales Process!

Why 45 minutes? Well, for those of you who haven’t studied direct response marketing…allow me to enlighten you. There’s an adage in copyrighting that says the purpose of your headline (and everything you ever send out should have a headline) is to get people to read your first sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to get your prospect to read your second sentence and so on.

The same is true of a well executed sales process.

The only objective of a first appointment should be to have a second appointment. You do this by limiting the first appointment to allowing the prospect to ask you any questions they have about you, then asking them questions for about thirty minutes, then wrapping up. If you’ve sent out a packet like the one described earlier then every initial appointment will have your prospects coming into your office with their completed questionairres and all of their financial statement. When you have about 15 minutes left, you simply say the following:

“Now that I know a little about you, here’s what we need to do next: I’ll take the information that you’ve completed, my notes, and copies of your statements and prepare an analysis I call a Personal MAP for Retirement. This will show you in detail the specific areas in your finances that can be improved and by how much. We’ll schedule a meeting time in the next couple of weeks to go over your report so that whatever you decide to do after that you will be able to make informed decisions that will improve your finances, fair enough?”

Did you see what I just did? Did you notice the last two words? These will become the most important two words of your career, guaranteed.

If executed correctly, nobody will be able to resist that second appointment. Now some people will ask how much it costs and tell them it’s free, but you’ll let them know based on what you find how much they would have to pay you should they make the educated decision to engage in your services.

Seriously, this stuff makes me giddy just writing it. You should be too! In just these first two steps I’ve already shown you how to at least double your closing percentage with wealthy financial planning clients.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #3

The Second Appointment – Separating the Men from the Boys!

As a precursor to this meeting, here’s a little tip: Make sure you send a thank you letter to the prospect for the first appointment and have it dual as a reminder of the second meeting. Follow the same rules as to the quality of the paper and the like and include another business card.

At the actual appointment, make sure you thank your prospect again for coming in, let them know it’s nice to see them again – and always ask if they have any questions before you begin to show them your analysis.

The analysis should include the following (nothing more and nothing less please):

* Morningstar reports on their funds/variable annuities

* An asset allocation analysis

* A bullet-point style analysis of their taxes, long term health care needs, estate planning needs, and a quote of what you’d charge to fix their problems

And lets be honest here – everyone will have problems. Especially Million Dollar clients. If you can’t look at their investments and show them how to save money on taxes, eliminate estate taxes, and improve their investments – then you need far more than an education in sales.

This step is really super-easy. The key is this:

“So as you can see Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, I’ve identified approximately $4,000 of immediate benefit to you from this analysis with another $1,700 each year thereafter. So there should be around a $20,000 benefit over the next ten years and my fee for making this happen is $595.00 for a step-by-step detailed plan of action. Fair enough?”

Some people will agree on the spot, other will not. Remember to never, ever, ever, ever, ever push for a close. This all has to happen very naturally. Understand that the reason people work with you is not for what you can do for them but rather or not they trust you and like you. Not many people like pushy sales people. So try your best to be very non-chalant about all of this.

And about the fee – hey, this can be whatever you want but you have to be charging fees. If your not charging fees then these folks will know instantly that the other shoe has got to drop and it’s usually in the form of you selling them something for a commission. If you are fee-only this is never an issue; but if you are fee-based or commission-based you have to be charging a planning or set-up fee for taking a new client, PERIOD.

If they don’t want to schedule their next appointment at that time, just tell them to think about this for the next few days and that you’ll follow-up to see if they have questions.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #4

The Ultimate New Client Acquisition Process!

I’ve said before that I love systems and processes. They work soo well and are soo easily replicable that you must use them if you ever want to get to the big leagues of financial planning. All the Million Dollar Producers do it – so do what they do and you’ll get there too.

So here’s the process I use to take a new client:

Meeting Three – I have clients sign my Advisory Services Agreement (for the fee) and we create an Investment Policy Statement (for those who don’t know what this is – it’s basically an outline of what the clients goals are and what we will be attempting to accomplish for them as their advisor)

Meeting Four – We fill out transfer paperwork and new account forms. I always use brokerage accounts to gather the assets up and consolidate them first. The recommendations and financial plan come next.

Meeting Five – We go over the clients Written Financial Plan and Investment Recommendations

Meeting Six – A three-month review meeting

Meeting Seven – Another three-month review meeting

Meet with all clients every six months thereafter.

Holy Cow! That’s A Lot of Meetings!

That’s right – and they love it. This, my friends and colleagues, is what the wealthy want. They want a system, some attention, a WOW experience. An experience so different and so superior to that of any other advisor in your area.

And let’s get this straight:

This process is easy. It can be learned by anyone. If you have at least one staff person (and please get one as soon as you can afford one if you don’t) all you will have to do is the meetings.

Lastly, know that this system may not work for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a system. Always identify what you know works and remember to never stop doing those things. If you can patch together 4 – 6 steps that all work well — then you’ve just created your own “formula”; and that’s exactly what financial advisors need to reach super sales heights.

financial planning

The Importance Of Budgeting And Forecasting For Start-Ups Financial Planning

What Are Budgets and Forecasts?

They are predictions of future income and expenses and cash flow. They also predict future performance with financial forecasts and projections and with financial models.

Why Budget and Forecast?

Budgets and forecasts provide a feasibility analysis. They can help develop a business model, review your key assumptions, and identify resource and capital needs. Budgets and forecasts can be used to find funding. They demonstrate the potential of your business to investors and lenders. Budgets and forecasts can also be used as a management tool. They can help you establish milestones and require accountability for accomplishing the milestones. They can help identify risks and show benchmarks. This will help the small business owner make the necessary adjustments to avoid the risks, to reach the milestones, and to measure up to benchmarks.

Why Are Forecast Important?

A forecast can establish measurements to guide management, to facilitate planning, and to facilitate goal-setting.

What Areas Do You Need to Forecast?

It is critical that you forecast your start-up costs so that you know how much it will cost to open your doors. You need to prepare estimated start-up financial statements and estimated short and long-term revenue forecasts. As part of your forecasts, you will review key concepts and issues that will make a difference in your company’s survival. You also need to forecast the resources you will need and set up a schedule for using and replenishing your resources.

Do Investors Want to See Forecasts?

Yes, your forecasts will show investors that you know your business, that you are likely to succeed, and that you will make wise use of their money. You must have at least a five-year forecast that shows significant profit by year five, significant net income by year two, and that investors will earn approximately 10% return on their investment.

Do Lenders Want to See Forecasts?

Yes, your forecasts will show lenders that you know your business and the you will be able to repay the loan. Be sure you forecast for the entire period of the loan and use conservative financial ratios, because the lenders will. Also, you will need to collateralize and personally guarantee the loan.

The investors and lenders will want to see forecasts of your profit and loss and revenue. They will also want to see what drives income in your industry; for example, sales, distribution, advertising, internet search engines, referrals, location, price, or coupons or other discounts. You also must forecast the revenue cycle for your target customer. How much time will you need to start production, and how quickly will your product or service be accepted in the market?

What Other Forecasts Are Needed?

Another important forecast is the total personnel required to support your desired revenue. If your revenues result from sales, you should start with the desired revenue in year 5. From year 5 subtract 40% from each prior year. On the basis of your research, estimate the number of sales each sales person will make each year. From that you can calculate number of salespeople required.

After you make your forecasts, you should complete a sensitivity analysis by adjusting each major item estimated by 10% plus or minus. Examine the impact on revenues, profit, and cash needs. Remember that most operating expenses are roughly proportional to personnel headcount. These are your variable expenses such as salaries, benefits, employment taxes, furniture, computers, rent, supplies, utilities, training, travel, meals, training, and dues. Other non-variable expenses may or may not be proportional such as professional services, subcontractors, advertising, and trade shows.

Use your forecasts to compare yourself to others in your industry by such things as revenue per employee, revenue per salesperson, gross margin, expense categories as a percentage of revenues, financial ratios, and inventory control. It is critical that you know your industry’s benchmarks and metrics and that your business forecasts are within these benchmarks and metrics. You can find this information by researching your industry.

Should You Hire a Business Consultant to Prepare Your Forecasts and Research Your Industry?

Yes! Unless you have a very strong finance and accounting background, you cannot create financials that will be acceptable to investors and lenders. You cannot do an acceptable business plan with a spreadsheet, and it will be difficult for your to be objective in developing your business model. Also, you are the entrepreneur and your efforts are better spent building and developing your business which is what you do best.

Jo Ann Joy, CEO, Indigo Business Solutions

JoAnnJoy@IndigoBusinessSolutions.net, Phone: (602) 663-7007

The future of your business starts here.

For more information about these and other important topics and for legal consultation, please visit our website at http://IndigoBusinessSolutions.net Copyright 2006. Indigo Business Solutions is a registered trade name.

financial planning

Risk Management – A Case Study on the Consequences of Bad Risk Management Financial Planning

Introduction

Risk in business is a reality. When these risks are successfully managed the rewards can be substantial. If not, a business can run into serious problems and even collapse. It is unnecessary (and stupid) to ignore risks.

Over more than a decade we advised and assisted companies in growing and managing their businesses. Over time we observed many companies that ran into trouble because they ignored specific risks. This case study focuses on a few companies that each ignored one important aspect of risk management and then paid the price. The discussion is done under the following headings:

  • Insufficient planning;
  • Bad relationships;
  • No hedging;
  • Lack of discipline.

Insufficient Planning

Risk is drastically reduced by proper preparation and detailed planning. Planning includes feasibilities studies, business planning, cashflow projections and financial planning.

We were recently approached by Hypothesis Toys to assist them with additional financing. At that stage they were already in dire straits and had invested a small fortune. The company was established to make one specific type of toy. The management made the following assumptions:

  • That customers would pay a premium (double the price) on their products compared to other existing products due to the fact that their products look different and was branded with the logos of professional sport bodies.
  • That all the major supermarkets will sell their products.
  • That the total market consists out of every toddler in the (developing) country that they operate in.
  • That they would get 10% of this market within the first year and 50% by year three.

This company did not have a chance from the beginning. The haphazard way that they came to their assumptions was mind-boggling. The market penetration figures were absolutely unrealistic. No research was done to get the real facts (except for the number of toddlers in the country). The scary part of this story is that it is not an isolated incident. Many entrepreneurs, and even established companies, expose themselves to the unforgiving risk of not doing proper market research when they embark on a new venture.

Bad Relationships

Human relationships can never be ignored. It is potentially one of the most fatal risk factors in a business. Relationships should be nurtured with all stakeholders in a business – including the investors, financiers, suppliers, employees and customers.

A while back one of our clients asked us to handle a possible merger and acquisition on their behalf. They were approached by Fuzzy Manufacturers to buy out their total operations over a few years (they do a lot of business with this company).

The owners of Fuzzy Manufacturers managed some of their relationships during the negotiations as follows:

  • They never kept any commitments that they made with us or with our clients.
  • They were not transparent with the relevant stakeholders – including the financiers.
  • They did not involve their senior management with any aspect surrounding the proposed deal.

The negotiations were finally called of due to financiers that withdrew. Everybody lost their respect for the owners of Fuzzy Manufacturers and some companies are very uncomfortable to do business with them. Eventually some of their senior employees left and joined the competition. Their business became a shadow of what it used to be.

No Hedging

Financial risks (such as currency risk and commodity price risk) can often be hedged with sophisticated products. Operational hedging is also possible (to a large extent) by spreading the risk through a variety of suppliers, products, distribution channels, customers, back-up facilities, etc.

Focused Systems specialises in IT networks. They were exceptionally successful, especially after landing a big national concern. Thereafter they made some serious errors when they did not hedge their operational risks, including the following:

  • They focused on this client and regarded all other clients as less important.
  • This client contribution grew to more than 35% of their turnover and they were responsible for most of their profits.
  • They ceased to do any more international work.

The big national concern became the target of an international listed entity. This group had their own IT specialists and Focused Systems lost the account. The company nearly went under. Fortunately the owners learned from their mistakes and with a concerted effort they broadened their product and service offering, their customer base and their geographic representation. Today the company is really formidable. No customer can keep them ransom due to the fact that not one of them is responsible for more than 5% of the company’s turnover.

Lack of Discipline

There is probably no better way to reduce risks in a business than to be properly prepared and to be well-disciplined. This is true for planning, relationships and hedging as well as for being disciplined in aspects such as keeping a lid on expenditure, to grow within sustainable levels, to not fall into the debt-trap and to manage cashflow with an iron fist.

About a decade ago Expansion Chemicals was very well known and respected in the industry that they operated in. Their vision was to be the market leader. Unfortunately they were not very disciplined and made the following serious mistakes:

  • They sold products at any price just to get the sale. Their actual gross profit margins were much lower than their projected margins and their net profitability were very low.
  • They grew at an alarming rate that was not sustainable with internal financing or through debt.
  • The expenses of the owners (who also managed the company) skyrocketed and it included luxuries such as private planes and sport cars.

Unfortunately this once profitable business failed. The owners are now employees in other companies.

Summary

The companies discussed above all basically ignored one specific type of risk. It can only take one unexpected claim against a company, a major customer that is lost or not enough cash to pay a big supplier, to cripple a company. When a business plan diligently, work on all its relationships, hedge its financial transactions and operations as far as possible and work in a disciplined way they reduce the risks in a company tremendously.

Copyright© 2008 – Wim Venter

financial planning