Fact Check: Is Summer Prospecting a Waste of Time?

August 16, 2021 | 3 minute read

Summer Prospecting

Since early-to-mid July, I noticed a lot more of my emails to advisors were being met with out-of-office auto-replies. My immediate thought was, “That’s strange.  Summer is when a lot of people actually have time to take a step back and think about their futures.” At least that’s how it’s been for me, historically.

I mentioned this phenomenon in a meeting with Eric Arnold, Planswell’s CEO. He told me, “When I started out as a financial advisor, in the first week of basic training, we were taught that July, August, and December are write-offs for business.” Much of the industry seems to agree with this, based on my experience prospecting this summer. But  what does the data say?

Myth: There's nothing to do in the summer

Eric continued, “When we started Planswell with in-house advisors, we only hired people who had never worked in the industry and we never told them about the prevailing attitude in the profession regarding summer.” Without the preconceived notion, it turns out they did just fine all summer long.

I dug into the sales figures from back when Planswell had in-house advisors selling insurance policies, investment management, and debt refinancing. (We no longer service clients in house, but the data from those days is sure helpful for benchmarking.)

Planswell’s most profitable B2C months were in September and January. When I asked Eric about the numbers, he told me the sales activity data kept steady during the summer months and in December, relative to the rest of the year. In other words, the sales team kept the momentum and worked at full capacity all year. A significant part of the work put in during those “slow” months often bore fruit in the early fall or early in the new year. 

Myth: Nobody is interested in finance during the summer

So what about consumer demand? Old-school advisors claim no one is interested in financial planning in the summer. But what does the data say?

Our in-house expert on this is Planswell COO Scott Wetton, who knows our consumer data like the back of his hand from his oversight of our consumer-facing financial planning tool. Households throughout the US and Canada generate free financial plans by visiting our website, answering about 40 questions related to their finances, and SMS-validating their phone numbers. "Nobody will do this in the summer. They're all on a golf course or floating in a pool," you've been led to believe.

“We don’t see any decreased demand for financial plans over the summer months. It’s pretty much business as usual in the summer,” Scott reports.

In fact, he believes Q3 marketing data and lower advertising costs point to slightly higher demand for financial planning in the summer vs. the preceding quarter.

Myth: Top producers don't prospect in the summer

Luckily, I know a legendary top producer, so this myth was easy for me to debunk. I reached out to Business and Performance Coach Ermos Erotocritou, who was a division director for a major FI in Canada where he oversaw a book of over $2 billion AUM. He said, “As a Division Director, I spent all of RSP season and tax season helping advisors close business and servicing my existing client base. The only time I had available to prospect was the summer, and I was consistently among the top producers in the office.” What does the data say? Read up on Ermos' accomplishments.

“There are actually advantages to prospecting in the summer,” Ermos continued. “For one, there’s less competition because other advisors are not prospecting.”

Ermos is always willing to share the secrets of his success, so I took full advantage. I learned he would meet prospects on patios with a relaxed and social vibe. At events like neighborhood barbecues, he would casually mention what he did for a living—tactfully, he emphasized.

Other tactical advice he shared includes: 

  • Go to a golf course on your own during the summer during the work day. The club will team you up with other players and chances are, they’re self-employed business owners or doctors. Everyone with a regular job is working.
  • Host seminars at golf courses or on patios in the summer. Make sure you offer refreshments to attendees.
  • Give prospects the option to meet with you in the summer or to wait until fall—it doesn’t feel pushy and you’ll go into fall with a full schedule.

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Ermos, “If advisors expect summer to be slow, it will be slow. Since I didn’t have an option, my summers were busy and I closed a lot of business.”

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In my mind, summer has been exonerated.  Its hands are clean. The season is NOT naturally slow. It’s only slow because advisors expect it to be slow. If you want to take vacations, by all means “fill your boots,” as we say out here in Nova Scotia, Canada. But don’t take vacations because you assume your would-be clientele is uninterested. That’s simply not the case.

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Daniel Schloss

Account Executive, Planswell

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