Cross-Selling in Financial Services

Cross selling has gotten a lot of print in the last few years. Unfortunately, when it comes to financial services, things that get the most attention are often those that are abused or used for purposes other than that which they were intended . Cross selling, put simply, means that a company wants to be able to offer you products that supplement and are related to their core offerings. The most common example is that of a bank that wants to handle your investments as well as your checking account.

Cross selling products has proven to be an effective way for a financial company to increase their “share of your wallet”. This idea of being a one stop solution, or a generalist, is why no one is called a “stock broker” anymore. Everyone is a Financial Consultant, Financial Advisor or some other meaningless title. You’ll also see the guy that sells you your auto insurance suddenly transform into a “Wealth Manager”. Anything except “Salesman”.

But is the idea of providing a variety of financial services really a bad thing for consumers? Actually, in keeping with the art of spin, lets refer to them as “financial solutions”, not services. Offering an array of financial solutions can be very beneficial to clients. Often, a large investment portfolio can lead to a preferential rate on a loan product, or something similar. Some people jump at the chance to have everything at one bank or brokerage. They prefer to see “everything on one page”.  Being able to assist clients with more than one aspect of their financial lives can allow an advisor to give better advice. There are definitely some positives to be gained from the ability to cross sell products and services.

The problem with cross selling lies in the abuses of anything that can make a company more money.  It is often said that an apple rots from the core and this is no different. The problem with cross selling begins with upper and middle management and the compensation plans that they assemble for client facing employees.  The executives at the top of the bigger companies are completely out of touch, in most cases, with what the rank and file deal with  on a day to day basis. Then again, they are supposed to be visionaries, so where are the reality checks from their subordinates??? Haha..yeah, right? Regional managers and branch managers, your typical titles for middle management, low skill jobs, are there to push the agendas that come down from above. If they could come up with better ideas than their superiors or could do the jobs of those they supervise, then they wouldn’t be in management , now would they? I recall one such individual that always referred to what his “role” was. That’s a perfect word for it….. What role do you want me to play today?

 

I’ve spent my twenty years in the financial industry as a client facing employee. I was never a manager. In all that time, I can say with full confidence that very few of my peers ever had anything but the best interests of  the client in mind. Even in the face of conflict and pressure from management, no one I’ve met ever acted with complete disregard for the client that was sitting in front of them. This apple rots from the core.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is based on information gathered from sources believed to be reliable, and my own personal experience. It is not meant as financial or investment advice and should not be relied upon as such.