You may think information about college graduates and new hires has nothing to do with you as an established professional. But I urge you to find out how this is, in fact, directly relevant to you.
A recent article in the WSJ, Your College Major Is a Minor Issue, Employers Say, reported on the results of a survey done where they queried 318 companies that hire new graduates. The results were telling of an era that is quickly becoming the new norm.
Here are some of the key points I see as critical from the survey:
Colleges and universities are modifying programs to help graduates excel in these areas to fulfill the wants and needs of employer businesses. But we, the established professionals, didn't necessarily have those benefits when we went through school. If you don't feel you currently excel in these areas yourself, then you need to think about how to get there, and quickly.
Because if these are the types of things that employers are looking for in their new hires, what do you think they're looking for in their business partners and advisors?
Photo by Eli Christman.
I know a young lady who has recently graduated from college and is embarking on her career. A career, which by this time has been well in the works for a few years as she has taken advantage of many opportunities throughout college to pursue interests and demonstrate her motivation, drive, and skills. She is very impressive, and I have already put out recommendations on her behalf.
As she was preparing for graduation, we had one of our regular coffee chats, and she was telling me about her career search. The conversation turned to her schooling and the path she'd taken from high school graduation to college graduation. During this conversation she revealed what I believe is a significant differentiator for all students and business people who wish to get ahead.
She went to a private school her first year of college and didn't do well. She then came back home and went to community college to figure out what she wanted to do. From there, she transferred to a state university, where I met her, and that is where she said she became a student. It was there that she realized the key to a successful education was that the education doesn't end when the bell rings. That is actually just the beginning.
She said to me,
"It's not like high school where you just do assigned homework after class. After class you need to study what you learned in class. Regardless of homework or assignments, you just need to study the subject to really understand it and be able to use the information."
What a simple concept this is for everyone who is trying to learn something new (say, changing a business model) or keep up with the changes going on around us everyday (like HCR and the demands of employee satisfaction).
Doing the minimum will not get you ahead, and likely will not even keep you where you are for very long. To get ahead, you have to study, regardless of the assignments or tests in your immediate future.
The difference between those who know a few statistics and those who know how to diagnose root issues and apply solutions is profound. That difference lies in understanding the implications across the organization. And this knowledge is learned though study and application of ideas in actual workplace settings, and then studying or analyzing the results to learn for the next application.
It's this recognition so early in her schooling and career that has clearly made her such a standout. Ask yourself, are you studying after class lets out, or are you shelving those thoughts until class is back in session a couple of days later?
Photo by dcJohn.
You aren't alone. Or, at least you don't have to be.
I have traveled more over the last couple of weeks than I ever have at one time in my life. I have traveled to four cities to attend and present at four different conferences. While the travel itself can be tiring, I have finished more energized than ever before. And that energy is coming from the adrenaline flowing from being around such amazing people.
For all of the doom and gloom that surrounds our industry right now, I attended four similar, yet very different, conferences where I witnessed very positive outlooks. As different as the purposes of conferences may have been, the similarities among the attendees were the quality, professionalism, and commitment to success I found in the people I met.
The first conference was a bit of "coming home" party for me. It was the benefits discussion group of Intersure Partners (an association of independent agencies) meeting in Chicago. This is a group of agencies right in the bull's-eye of the industry turmoil: independent (multi-line) agencies who are struggling with their future role in the industry. Most are trying to figure out how to compete more effectively with the "big boys".
The second was a group of Canadian brokerages (that doesn't mean financial services, that's just their term for agencies). This is another discussion group of a consulting practice called iC3/Broker Performance Group, which also met in Chicago. This group of brokerages get together for financial analysis and to share and identify overall best practices.
The third conference took place in Scottsdale and was the "specialist" meeting for yet another network of agencies. However, the members of this particular network are more closely aligned, sharing a formal affiliation. The overriding concern I heard while talking to the attendees was to figure out what the future of their affiliation will look like moving forward.
The final conference brought me to San Diego and the Benefits Selling Expo, by far the largest and most diverse conference of the four. With some one thousand attendees representing everyone from mom and pop agencies to the national brokers; voluntary providers to core benefits; lead generators to technology providers, well, you get the idea. Here, the primary concern was the obvious, Healthcare Reform.
With the diversity of the audiences, you might think that I had to be prepared to deliver four entirely different messages in order to deliver value, right? Well I actually didn't. While I did tailor my message to each audience, 99% of the message was the same for each. And you know what? I received the same overwhelmingly positive response from each.
I don't say that as a pat on the back for myself at all. Rather, I point this out because, as an industry, we share similar, foundational challenges. And, with similar challenges, there are similar answers, answers that can become bigger and achieved faster when we are open to ideas from others.
So what was the core of my message?
The message is a kind of an in-your-face, wake-up-to-reality message. Rather than telling me I'm wrong or full of crap, every one of the groups embraced the message and seemed empowered to go take control of their future.
So, while I have always been optimistic for the future of our industry (at least for those of us willing to make the necessary changes), I have finished my mini-tour with a more positive outlook than ever before.
However, I wouldn't be so optimistic for those of you sitting there alone trying to figure out the answers for yourself. I just experienced four different conferences, each that clearly demonstrated the power of networking.
It is a challenging time for our industry. You can either retreat and try to figure it for yourself, or you can embrace your role as a part of the larger industry. If you aren't putting yourself in situations to learn from your peers, you can expect to be crushed by those who do.
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt.
Taking on a new model
Creating a new culture
Starting in a new position
These are all times where we feel compelled to dig deep and focus on self-improvement or team development. As we're moving more and more into being knowledge-driven businesses, waiting for a major event before seeking new knowledge isn't what will make you a leader. Continuously finding ways to increase your understanding of topics and being able to articulate the ideas effectively is increasingly important and is what will make you stand out in the crowded field of look-alike agencies.
We've written a few times about this and given several suggestions of how to gather information and ways to engage in continuous learning, so I'm not going to talk about that here. Instead I want to talk about what you do with that information you learn.
Just reading something isn't enough to really make it useful; it doesn't automatically turn into an effective new tool you can use in your selling or marketing efforts. You need to take that raw knowledge and think critically about how the information might impact you, your company, your clients, your community. When you begin to understand the underlying implications becomes the point when you can do something useful with the ideas. This is when you can create directly relevant advice and tools for your prospects and clients.
Read an article or a book, watch a video, read a case study or survey results. Share it with a partner and have a discussion about it.
Ask yourselves some open-ended questions to get the conversation started.
Take the answers from these questions and see if there is an action item you can take away:
Continuing to interact with the information in many different ways is what takes it from being a passing "isn't that interesting" idea to something tangible you can use to help build a better business for yourself and for your clients. The more you work with the ideas, the better your understanding, the more connections you can draw, and the better the insights you develop, which turns into better advice you can offer.
Kevin and I find this is a critical part of our business for developing ideas and curriculum. We regularly discuss what we read, see, and hear and then we work with those ideas in multiple ways turning them into articles, blog posts, presentations, lessons, group exercises, and client tools. Sometimes the ideas and conversations even turn into sales systems, agency development plans, or entire conferences!
Even if you feel you understand a topic pretty well, taking the time to articulate it to someone else – through writing, talking, or teaching – will significantly improve your own understanding of the topic and how to relate it to various situations. You'll also find that you're more effective in your delivery because the creation process (of say an article or a presentation) forces organization and narrowing of ideas to the most significant and relevant points.
Yes, this does take time, but it's a stimulating activity when you get a group involved and ideas start flowing. We did exercises like this at our BGNLive conference and the energy in the room was just buzzing with the excitement about the possibilities that were being created. These conversations of possibility allow people to improve their own knowledge while creating ways to contribute to the success of others, all in one activity. Try it out yourself, and let us know how it goes!
Photo by Paul Lowry.
It’s not about the quality of your product; it’s about the quality of your insight.
I read this recently in the book, The Challenger Sale, and feel that it’s such an important idea that it deserves some special focus.
While we all recognize the need to know our “product” inside and out as a critical part of our job, very few recognize that maybe the most important part of our job is to ensure we can regularly bring new insights to our prospects/clients.
So, in the spirit of the book, my challenge to you is to expose yourself to as many new insights as possible. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly and frequently you are able to put those ideas into play.
And to get you started, I have some suggestions as to where to find those ideas.
Read a book – May as well as start with the most obvious. If you’re not always in the middle of a business book of some sort, you are completely missing out on unbelievable ways to gain insights. A couple of my recent favorites include:
Publications & blogs – Being a reader of information through social media is good, but the greatest insights come from being engaged. In other words, participate in the online conversations, discussions and even debates. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and share your opinion. Start with something easy – maybe compliment an article you found insightful – but don’t be afraid to offer a differing opinion either. The more you participate, the more insights you will take with you. Here are a couple of places you should be engaging:
Thought leaders – Ask the experts in various business specialties about the one idea they feel is most important for business owners to know. Your centers of influence and clients are great places to start.
Google – Create a list of challenges you know most business owners struggle with and block time out each week to research a topic. Searching “(topic) + best practices or challenges” will be a great start.
TED Talks – With the tagline, “Ideas Worth Spreading”, you know this is a good place to visit regularly. Go to www.ted.com and you will find a free library of short, idea-inspiring videos on just about any subject you can imagine.
Track and develop – Always carry something with you to capture good ideas as they come to you. Then, regularly block out reflective time to go back to your list of ideas and give them a chance to develop into powerful insights that are worth sharing.
Writing – A great way to further absorb, develop and integrate information you’ve learned is to write. Write your own blog post or whitepaper about what you’ve learned, or simply write an email to someone with whom you want to share the idea/article–you might surprise yourself at how much better you understand the topic or see the potential applications after just a little bit of writing.
Observe – There are powerful ideas/insights all around you. You just have to watch and listen, and you might be amazed at how almost everything you learn can somehow apply to business. For example:
Be genuinely interested – Don’t let an interesting comment from someone pass without exploring it further. Ask for clarification. If you hear someone share a success, be curious and ask questions to learn what led to the success. Not only will this be a huge compliment to the person with the story, think what insights you may pick up that could lead to someone else’s success.
Change your routine – The same routines tend to expose you to the same ideas and thoughts. Change up your routine and I promise you will find new ideas, thoughts and insights. This could be the publications you read, where you regularly exercise or even where you stop for coffee.
Public speaking – Expose yourself to great public speakers (from multiple fields and disciplines). And, if you truly want to put yourself “all in” to develop your ideas and insights to their fullest, find your own speaking opportunities.
Smart people - Have conversations with really smart people. Better yet, have debates with really smart people. Agree to meet on a regular basis with the agreed upon price of admission to the discussion being a new idea or topic to discuss.
There are countless other ways to gain new insights. Whether you follow my suggestions or pursue others, nothing will happen until you write “gaining insights” into your job description and block out the time on a weekly, if not daily, basis to make it happen. It will take work, but the improved value you can deliver will make it all worthwhile. You just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I want it?”
Photo by Brandon Fick.
Before I started Benefits Growth Network, I spent 18 years in the independent agency system, the last 14 at the same agency. Most of my time there was spent helping to develop the benefits practice.
It was a great experience, one that came with significant growth, both personal and departmental, through both successes and mistakes.
Knowing that many of you are in agencies that look a lot like my old agency, I thought I would share some of the highlights of that "road trip." As you look to grow your own benefits department, my hope is that you can get there faster by learning from some of my experiences.
Let me first set the scene for the situation I walked into.
Needless to say, I had a lot to prove. The first thing I had to do was connect with three groups of people: P-C producers, insurance carriers, and our existing clients.
Lesson 1—Whether you have someone new or a long-term practice leader, make sure they regularly communicate to each of these groups: their goals for the department, how they will achieve those goals, and how each group will benefit from the effort.
Sure, my business card identified me as the benefits department manager, but the greatest need of the department was growth. There was no one else to do it; I had to get out there and generate revenue. Proving that I would and could do the hard work of prospecting and selling was a major step in building credibility and momentum.
Lesson 2—As you build a benefits practice, you have to put someone in place who can sell. Just putting in a support person and assuming the other producers will do the selling won't work.
It would have been tempting to just demand that the P-C producers cross-sell every account, but it would have never worked long term. I had to help every P-C producer see me and my department as a valuable resource that not only wouldn't put their client relationships at risk but would actually enhance those relationships.
Lesson 3—Treat the other departments as your "internal clients." Spend time with the P-C producers one on one; educate them on the benefits and HR issues facing their clients; and explain how you can help uncover, and then address, those issues.
Revenue report: About three years in, our revenues were up 250%, our revenue per employee had also more than doubled, and we had gone from losing money to making a 16.7% operating profit.
By this point, we had assembled some great tools and resources to offer our clients. We had online resources, actuarial services, and seminars, to name a few. However, we also had to realize that many of our competitors had similar resources.
Lesson 4—If you are going to succeed in the benefits business, you have to make an investment in the resources your clients and prospects expect and need. To achieve an acceptable return on the investment, you have to take the time to determine how you can add value to the process by customizing the solution to meet the unique needs of each client.
Revenue report: Four years since the last revenue report, we had grown by an additional 43%, but our revenue per employee had dropped (there were two additions to the department), we actually had red ink, and our revenue per client was only $7,133. Remember, I told you I made mistakes along the way.
I finally realized that this was an endurance race. In an endurance race, not only do you need the best pit crew, you also need more than one driver.
Looking at the numbers, I had to admit that it wasn't all about me and my ability to sell. It had become obvious that to continue growing profitably, a strong, viable benefits department had to be a destination of its own. Up to this point, we had mainly been there to support growth on the P-C side and help protect its interests.
Lesson 5—Build your benefits department as if it were a business of its own. Make the necessary investments, staff it with the best talent available, run it profitably, and plan strategically for its growth.
For us, we knew we needed a consistent approach that could easily be replicated:
Lesson 6—Run the benefits practice with discipline and as a department rather than a group of producers. Put a leader in place who can create the departmental vision, plan for the successful execution of the vision, use the talents of each team member, and establish successful processes that can be repeated consistently.
If you want to attract the "A" talent in your market, you have to be seen as an "A" agency/department. Investing time in building resources and creating the structure was worth it. Hiring great talent, both producers and support staff, is expensive, but they also deliver an unbelievable ROI.
Lesson 7—This one is pretty straightforward. If you want the best results, you have to be willing to spend for the best talent. Of course, you first have to create an environment that is attractive to the best talent, or they won't even listen to your offer.
Growing the top line isn't enough. It's the bottom line that matters most. Benefits departments in predominantly P-C agencies will inevitably end up with a lot of small accounts that are likely to be "loss leaders." For us, the answer was to outsource the smallest accounts to a service center and focus our attention on those accounts we knew could be profitable. You can offer and support only what you can deliver profitably.
Lesson 8—Profitable ______ should never have to subsidize unprofitable ______. You can fill in the blanks with "departments," "producers," or "clients." I suggest you use all three.
Having the right tools in the hands of the right producers isn't enough; what matters is how those tools are used and to whom they are offered. We aligned ourselves with other organizations that helped introduce us to the right prospects. We also aligned ourselves with other like-minded agencies around the country that were willing to share their best ideas. I referred to this as my "R and D Department" (Rob and Duplicate).
Lesson 9—There are too many great ideas and relationships out there to not expose yourself to them on a regular basis.
Have you ever noticed that as you got older, your parents got wiser? The same is true for those of us who lead departments or agencies: there is more knowledge out there than you could ever acquire on your own. We aligned ourselves with a consulting practice that enabled us to go further than we would have ever been able to do on our own.
Lesson 10—The best performers in every field have coaches and advisors who help make them better. Find that trusted advisor who is able to make you better at what you do by introducing new ideas, challenging your way of thinking and operating, and holding you accountable for doing whatever is necessary for your success.
Revenue report: It's been another four years since our last report and 10 years since the road trip began. Revenue has doubled over the past four years and is 670% higher than when we started. Revenue per employee is now at $417,835. Revenue per client relationship (not including service center clients) is $39,285, and operating profit is just over 20%.
It doesn't matter; you have to do it again (and again and again). You have to constantly reinvent yourself. Change is the one constant, and either you will lead it or your competitors will.
Lesson 11—The road trip never ends; there is always another turn in the road. Remember, what was exceptional yesterday is acceptable today but will be inadequate tomorrow.
While it is critical to have a vision of what you will become, it is impossible to know exactly where it will take you. However, I'm certain it will be somewhere that you haven't been before.
Lesson 12—Someone will be the disruptor in your market. Make sure it's you.
For me, my role in the agency did eventually take me beyond the benefits department and into overall agency leadership. And now, my personal road trip has taken me out of the agency entirely and on a new road trip that has me helping other departments and agencies navigate their own road trips.
I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I'm enjoying mine.
Photo by Victoria Reay.
This is the second of 10 challenges for you to consider embracing to create a new year that is more productive for yourself as well as for those around you. I have borrowed ideas from a book I read last year, The First 90 Days: Critical Success Stories for New Leaders by Michael Watkins.
Read previous challenge articles:
First Challenge – Promote yourself.
If you have committed to being a professional, whether you did it consciously or not, you committed to a lifetime of learning. And I don’t just mean the learning that comes with experience. I mean the type of learning that only comes as a result of a determination to always be the best at what you do.
Learn with a purpose – Whether you are taking on a new role, or just committing to execute your current role at a higher level, stop to think systematically about where you have knowledge gaps. Prioritize the need to fill those gaps and use this as your guide for focused learning.
Analyze your early wins/losses – Whenever you have a win or a loss, dig in and analyze why you won or lost. As difficult as it may be, being honest about a loss is the surest way to avoid future losses. And, as strange as it may sound, be just as determined to find out why you truly had a win. It’s the surest path to replicating the win.
Schedule your learning – There are almost always tasks that seem to be a higher priority in the moment than learning. This makes it way too easy to procrastinate. Make learning part of your job description and, like everything for which you are responsible, block out time on your calendar to make it happen.
Become the teacher – The surest way to learn something new is to commit to teaching it to someone else. Put yourself in the position to have to make a presentation, teach a class, or just mentor another individual.
Be the student – Identify someone (or multiple people) who is already in the role to which you aspire, and ask them if they are willing to answer some questions, provide guidance, and help fill your knowledge gaps.
Know your learning style – Some of us are visual learners, some are auditory, while others are tactile. In reality, we are all some combination. Experiment with various techniques and learn what is most effective for you.
1. Are you guilty of assuming that you already have “the answer”?
If so, how will you avoid doing this?
2. What is your learning agenda?
Compose a list of the knowledge gaps that stand between you and the knowledge required for you to better perform your role as you would like to.
3. Given the knowledge you would like to acquire, which individuals are most likely to provide you with solid actionable insights?
4. How might you increase the efficiency of your learning process?
What are some ways you might extract more actionable insights for your investment of time and energy?
There is no better time to start learning than right now.
Photo by Alan Levine.
2011 was an incredibly busy and blazing fast year for us. Or it sure feels that way! We have been very involved with creating and training, and time seems to be defined by each of those mile markers along the way. We’ve learned a lot of great lessons and continue to incorporate each of them back into training, resources, and blog posts – where you’ll find our experiences and lessons diligently documented!
We started out the year launching our new sales system and digging into training sessions throughout the spring. Then there were on-site strategic planning sessions we conducted with individual agencies. That definitely kept us moving and thinking a lot about agency business models and the need to evolve that model. We rounded out the first half of the year with our networking conference, BGNLive.
From the conference we had several takeaways to develop for the remainder of the year. That included additional training and vetting new strategic partners. Another big project was getting an internal social networking site up and running for agencies to discuss ideas and share files & best practices with one another.
While we’ve learned many things along the way, here are a few key summarized lessons that we met again and again this past year which have been invaluable:
As we move into 2012, we are looking to go deeper and get more specific on training, both at the network level and within each agency. Another area that will receive increased attention will be driving more interactive agency networking as a means for faster and more effective implementation.
We have our sights set on transforming agencies into independently thriving businesses regardless of the outcome of the various economic and healthcare challenges we face. You can be sure that we’ll continue to take every opportunity to learn and incorporate those lessons back into what we do every day to make our member agencies and brokerages more successful.
Thanks for a great year and here’s to another one to come!
Photo by Dharmit Shah.
We are in a period of enormous opportunity to help employers fix what’s not working in their businesses. And right now, there is a lot that’s currently not working well in businesses.
I’m reading The New American Workplace, which was published in 2006. It’s a follow-up study to a book called Work in America published in 1973. The book looks at the current state of the how workers and employers interact with and feel about one another and how these interactions differ from 30 years ago. It’s particularly interesting to read it now in 2011 because at the time of writing we hadn’t yet entered the recession, yet there are very clear indications throughout the book that if things don’t change with the way employers interact with and treat their employees, there will be some significant consequences. Of course, now we’re watching those predictions actually play out.
So many businesses have been in such a decline in the treatment of their employees over the past 30 years that many business owners and managers today don’t even know what it means to train your workforce and take care of them in exchange for hard work and loyalty. We lived a bubble of economic growth where business grew at such rapid rates in spite of continual cuts, squeezes, and off-shoring that we believed the way we were managing companies was clearly good management. Or was it? Was it good management and ownership? Or was it circumstantial and merely fortunate due to growing economic conditions?
Over this 30-year period, employees have worked harder and increased average company productivity by 65%, yet at the same time, average wages only increased 22%. This has been a great boon for top executives and shareholders because of the enormous revenue gains from this productivity and profitability increase.
However, it’s clearly proven to be a great de-motivator for the folks doing the work. Right now, according to Met Life Study of Employee Benefit Trends, one in three employees hopes to be working elsewhere in the next twelve months. A clear indicator that employees are sick and tired of the way they’re being treated.
What would happen if your agency lost 33% of its staff? A big huge blow to the revenue, profit, productivity, and morale, I have no doubt. This leads to other issues down the road with damage to your customer service and brand reputation, R&D opportunities, and on to business continuity. It all rolls down hill, and if it gets started, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get it stopped and going back up that hill.
These very same ideas apply to your clients. You can guarantee that if you are thinking about and struggling with these issues, so are your clients.
The opportunity is ripe to turn things around. And the opportunity is yours for the taking, if you choose.
Clearly things have changed, and I would guess that many of these long-time owners and their managers don’t even understand what good quality leadership needs to look like today. Many don’t even know what they don’t know.
Effectively leading a team in this way requires two foundational elements:
There is a great study from Stanford University, Management Practice & Productivity: Why They Matter, that very directly ties the productivity and profitability of a company to good management and leadership – communication of the strategic direction of the business and progress toward goals were at the top of the list. As a matter of fact, the study results showed that an investment in quality management practices (such as these and others) were equivalent to large increases in existing labor and capital.
Notice that these things we’re talking about here require no capital investment – simply an understanding of the importance of good management, the time to plan, and a commitment to making it happen.
There is certainly more you can go on to do that would require financial investment around training, systems, processes, etc., but it’s got to start with these fundamental pieces. Once the momentum starts, it makes sense to continue exploring other options for further training and growth within the organization.
Taking the time to study and learn quality business practices that you can take to your clients – right now – will prove transformative. For them and you.
Speaking as a current and former business owner, I can attest that if you help someone fix something significant in his or her business, you’ve got a client for life (assuming, of course, you continue to influence their business as time goes on).
I guess there are many ways you could describe the difference between the two, but I’m sure you have an immediate difference that comes to mind for you. At a recent Producer Training Camp, we overheard one of the attendees describe the difference as the following:
“A job is something you learn once and just do it. A career is something you intentionally choose and commit yourself to constant learning in order to stay current.”
I like that explanation as much as any I’ve ever heard. I know I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who quit studying and learning as soon as he had his degree in hand. It goes without saying that when he committed to being a physician, he committed to a lifetime of learning.
Guess what? You’ve chosen a career. You are a professional. You’ve committed to, and your clients deserve, a lifetime of learning. Just being a reader and a listener, while a great start, isn’t enough. You have to be very purposeful about your ongoing learning.
I suggest you start by evaluating your current abilities, and the future requirements, in the following areas.
Technical Skills – What are the technical skills that have to be razor sharp? What are the technical skills that you need to develop to stay on top of your game?
Some examples might include: alternative financing, actuarial analysis, or compliance issues.
Sales Skills – What is required for you to be able to effectively communicate your value proposition? What new skills would allow you to position yourself as a true partner with your clients rather than just a vendor?
Some examples might include: 30 second commercial, listening skills, closing strategies, effective networking, asking for referrals, etc.
Business Acumen – What is the general business knowledge that you must have in order to have a peer-to-peer conversations with a business owner? What knowledge could you obtain that would have them coming to you for advice about “non technical” challenges?
Some examples might include: national economic trends, operational basics, corporate structure, or perpetuation.
There is no limit to the learning opportunities you need to embrace to make you more effective at what you do and to improve the impact you can have on the business of your clients.