Happy New Year! It is a fabulously busy start to the year for most people I know at insurers, and for many advisers too: there is much to be done to respond to the massive environmental changes that we face - and are ongoing.
One of the predictions I read recently was that the next five years would see Apple, Amazon, and Google, all enter financial services. I felt that they already had. But if you have been operating under an assumption that online financial services (whoever they are provided by) won't affect your particular corner of the world, now might be a good time to challenge that belief. At least spend a couple of hours of your planning time reversing the view, what if they do? How would they go about it? What would I do then?
If this is a time you often do planning, another tip I heard for the process was that you need three things: good data, good process, and a fresh perspective. The first two you can often get through spending the money, time, and doing the work required. The fresh perspective is a bit trickier. Try new restaurants, books, go to a film you wouldn't normally watch, do something you aren't very good at, take a class in something, follow follow about a dozen new twitter feeds, trawl through some neglected newsletters in your clutter file. Take good notes, but make no decisions until your formal planning processes starts.
Learning what feedback to take on and what should be solidly ignored is a skill that I am always trying to improve. Self-belief and an openness to learn pull against each other. Look hard at every business and you can see the effects of these forces as clearly as tides. Brené Brown has this quote which suggests one method of screening feedback: "For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback." Clearly true of my business. In order to be kind, I then try to remember that, at some level or other in life, everyone is in the arena of life.