This investing pro learned there’s more to financial planning than money


Mark Boujikian woke up one morning in March 2017 with no feeling in his left arm. Even though he couldn’t type and battled headaches, he made it through his workday.

By the evening, his condition worsened. A visit to a local urgent care facility led to an MRI and an appointment six days later with a spinal specialist. The diagnosis startled him.

“You’ve got a broken neck,” the spinal expert said.

At the time, Boujikian was about to launch his financial advisory firm. But first, he needed neck surgery.

A certified financial planner, Boujikian underwent surgery in April and opened his firm in late May — in a neck brace and weathering severe pain.

When prospectve clients asked what happened, Boujikian told them. The 30-year-old described the anxiety that comes with a sudden health crisis.

“At my old firm, I was taught to use stories but don’t get too personal,” said Boujikian, founder of Keymark Financial in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. “They couldn’t be more wrong. I never held back my story, and now my client relationships are stronger than ever.”

Granted, his story proved unusually compelling. In 1998, a preteen Boujikian suffered two skull fractures and significant brain trauma in a serious car accident. He has struggled with muscular discomfort ever since, seeking relief from chiropractors and massage therapists.

He had no idea that lingering fractures in his neck were threatening his spinal cord until that fateful day when part of his body shut down.

“After the car accident, I was told that I’d have more problems than other people,” he said. “But I never thought something missed from the accident would lead to this injury.”

He has discovered that his story can serve as a motivational tool. When he urged a client — a self-employed physician in her late 30s — to set up a corporation and take other steps to save for retirement, she demurred.

Six months later, she still hadn’t followed through. So Boujikian told her about his surgery and how he relied on others for support and guidance.

“Anarchy and mayhem always rear their head,” he told her. “We want to make sure you’re protected if life-changing events occur, and these are the means to help you succeed.”

Fully convinced, the client complied with Boujikian’s recommendations.

“She saw that I wasn’t just preaching on my soapbox, that I had lived it,” he said.

Boujikian finds that opening up helps him forge an emotional connection with others. This adds a level of depth to the interaction. He emphasizes to prospects that his approach to financial planning combines quantitative analysis with a focus on underlying emotions. He often follows up their comments by asking, “How does that make you feel?”

As a result, his conversations transcend money matters. He estimates that more than 90% of his prospect meetings result in tears as visitors confide in him and raise their deepest fears or concerns. “Emotion itself is a powerful sales tool,” Boujikian said. “It pulls down the walls.”

Despite wearing a neck brace in the weeks after launching his firm — and operating on a limited diet while sleeping upright — Boujikian won over new clients. They appreciated his perseverance and seized the opportunity to discuss their own challenges.

Over the next six months, business took off. Beyond his ability to connect emotionally with prospects, he credits three other factors for his early success: establishing a strategic partnership with two accountants who work next door; giving free presentations at local libraries on financial literacy, and hiring a digital marketing specialist to boost his visibility.

Read: How to teach your children to be investors rather than spenders

“Dealing with massive anxiety that comes with severe trauma was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “But I leaned on my family and friends for support, and I saw therapists who opened doors I didn’t know existed.”

He cites two pieces of advice from his therapy sessions that he took to heart. He learned that in order to understand others, you have to understand yourself first. And he embraced his anxiety rather than avoiding it or pretending it didn’t affect him.

“Having all my plans thrown out the window made me a better adviser,” he said. “I could understand the depth of anxiety that comes with big ventures and unexpected moments in life.”

Source : MTV