Bruce Wright Bruce Wright Chairman,
The Wright Company

Exploit the Volatile Market –
Convert It Into Your Competitive Advantage

3/21/2001 by Bruce R. Wright

I had a conversation today with my friend and client Mike Lyons about how he was taking advantage of this volatile market.  Mike is a top producing financial advisor with a large conglomerate comprised of banking and brokerage firms, etc.  Mike was commenting on how most of his colleagues were struggling to retain existing client accounts.  Mike said, “All these people are running around desperately trying to hold onto the clients they have now.  They are stricken with fear about their very survival in this business.  They don’t know if they can survive the expected loss of income.”

I asked Mike what his plans were for the rest of this week.  He will be going trout fishing Thursday through Saturday.  Mike went on to comment about a common paradigm that goes like this:  “A good professional advisor must be constantly available to clients during difficult markets.”  We then observed that by learning the skill sets associated with teaching clients to transcend their money, these relationships could be insulated from market conditions, thus reducing stress for the client and the advisor.  This is a different paradigm that results in ‘A’ level outcomes for all who apply it.

Unfortunately, most advisors have not learned how to take their client relationships to this level of transcendence.  As a result, life is more difficult than it has to be for most clients and advisors.  Is Mike an anomaly?  No, he is not.  Another friend and client of mine has spent the last few days at a continuing education conference 2,500 miles away from his office and clients.  How is it that these advisors can leave town while so many others are fielding frantic calls from clients?  You could say that Mike along with most of my clients are a whole universe away from market volatility, clients who worry about it, and competitors still operating in that old paradigm.

Exactly what has empowered so many of my advisor clients (and their consumer clients) to live less stressful and more fulfilling lives?  Three things: 1) the philosophy of transcendence – rising above market conditions and taking control of what you can control;  2) Dynamic Execution of improved skill sets;  and 3) a marketing model based on knowledge, trust and client-centered credibility.

An executive with a large financial conglomerate recently told me that the volatile market was causing such a scare that they were cutting back on marketing and other expenses.  This is another example of a common but usually defective paradigm.  Let’s compare this with a more successful perspective.

One of the best books ever written on business strategy is The Art of War by Chinese General Sun Tzu.  Yet, some who attempt to read it are so stuck "inside the box" that they miss the relevance to their business.  How tragic for them and wonderful for "outside the box" thinkers who learn to transcend the explicit – that is where success, peace of mind and greater value are found. 

For example, one of the many great points The Art of War teaches is this:  Choose a battlefield that is unfavorable to your enemy, and use it to your advantage.  In the nineteenth century, The US Army perceived the desert as a hostile disadvantageous environment.  The Apaches perceived the desert as their friend.  They used the desert as a powerful weapon against their enemies – primarily the US Army. 

Translated into today's business terms, this means:  If your competition perceives a volatile market as a time to conserve, cut back, retreat and struggle to survive, perhaps you should do the opposite.  Perhaps, you can do as Mike and others have done.  Perhaps, you can learn how to turn the terrain into an ally so that you have no competition!

The organizations and advisors who have not yet learned how to transcend market conditions will continue to be vulnerable TO THEM.  As a result, their most valuable clients are easy acquisitions for professionals with a more effective, transcendent mindset and an intelligent marketing campaign.  This unique approach has helped Mike and others dramatically increase their penetration into ‘A’ level client markets at the expense of competitors.  Their businesses flourish in large part because of the volatile stock market.  At the same time, quality of life has increased FOR THEM AND THEIR CLIENTS.

Everywhere I go people ask me to teach them how to separate themselves from their competition.  They say they want to be perceived by clients and referral sources as being different than and superior to their competitors.  This is my response in two simple and powerful sentences.  If you want to be perceived as different than or superior to your competition, you must actually BE different than and superior to your competition.  You must actually provide a level of service and Dynamic Execution which transcends the capabilities of the competition and exceeds the expectations of clients and referral sources.”

As simple as those two sentences are, you must know that simple and easy are often worlds apart.  My clients have invested time (approximately 150 hours each over the past two years), effort and money to learn the skill sets behind the philosophy of transcendence.  This investment has paid huge dividends in both revenue and quality of life.  Learning to use what others see as a hostile environment as your ally is a proven strategy which elite performers have deployed consistently through the ages.  This is part of what separates the elite from the average.  It is rarely easy, but it is that simple.  Of course it helps to have a process (the how) which produces this result.

Most people and almost all companies choose not to embrace this philosophy, let alone invest in training, infrastructure and execution.  Most people and companies deploy Band-Aids when the best long-term solution is surgery.  Consultants abound talking or writing about why you need to act more strategically or deliver value-added services.  Unfortunately, most of them lack the details, skills or discernment to teach you how.  This is a big disadvantage for the advisors who hire them.  On the other hand, this is a great competitive advantage for courageous, discerning people of action like Mike who have invested in themselves to learn how.

Realizing that you need to improve your game is not enough.  You must embrace this new paradigm.  Then you must actually take appropriate, innovative action.  You will be truly powerful when you learn the accompanying skill sets, develop the infrastructure and deploy Dynamic Execution of the details.  You must exercise the courage to actually do something different.  Most of your competitors are too busy either continuing on with what they have always done or applying Band-Aids when they need surgery. 

Alec Mackenzie said something that applies beautifully:  “Nothing is easier than being busy, and nothing more difficult than being effective.”  I believe that busy vs. effective is a choice made by each individual and every company every day.

There is a revolution happening across every sector and microcosm of the financial services professions.  Wise people recognize when shortcuts or Band-Aids are not sufficient.  Achieving market dominance will require a combination of wisdom (vision), courage and implementation.  Those who choose to stay the same or mess around with Band-Aids will not achieve market dominance.  True market dominance belongs to but a few wise, bold people of action.

Bruce R. Wright is the founder of several innovative companies.  Currently he serves as CEO and Chairman of The Wright Company.  Because he is dedicated to helping professional advisors develop and deploy strategies focused on market domination, Mr. Wright welcomes your comments, questions and ideas.  He can be reached at 1-800-997-2664.  For more information on The Wright Company or training conferences, books, articles and essays by Mr. Wright, please visit us at


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