Carmine Gallo, who recently completed a book on Steve Jobs' presentation techniques, observes that "Passion, emotion, and enthusiasm are grossly underestimated ingredients in professional business communications."
I would probably stretch that further and state that, as far as financial services communication goes, passion, emotion and enthusiasm are almost entirely absent from the equation.
Probably the greatest challenge to successfully communicating one's message in retail financial services is to have a message that can be communicated with passion, emotion and enthusiasm - after all there is probably more passion in a 22-year-old Afghan hound than you will ever find in a personal pension. And let's face it this is generally an appalling industry so there ain't much to get excited about.
Surely the key to unlocking this boredom is authenticity? Twelve letters that to me spell the future for financial services in general and financial services communication in particular.
In my judgement one should only ever seek to communicate what one truly believes in. Whether you are a bank that has gone bust, a life assurer that is insolvent or an under-performing fund manager, the future will be a whole lot brighter if you are producing a product or service that is possible to believe in. If you don't, or can't, your days will be numbered, regardless of the spin you might try to put on matters.
As our business develops and grows I can't help but think that one of the most interesting things about Nucleus is the conversation that takes place amongst the IFA group. The fact that a small (but increasingly vocal) community of IFAs scattered the length and breadth of the UK is genuinely excited about delivering a better consumer outcome largely at the expense of the legacy industry fascinates me.
We have a passionate belief in the wisdom that can be generated by our group, and as our business develops by actively participating in the conversations (good and bad) that happen around us.
Communities naturally form around a specific issue or theme that affects the members of that group. If you have a business that wishes to promote its products or services to a particular group, what better way to engage than to be an active participant in that tribe? By turning your organisation inside out and making yourselves available and part of the solution you can embrace a more collaborative way of working.
The thing that staggers me is that communication of this type is so unusual when it should be the easiest thing in the world. From a very young age we instinctively know how to interact and communicate with each other, forming our relationships on the basis of strong communication, an understanding and an empathy with one another.
Yet when it comes to business (especially in the financial services industry) it is not unusual for people to discard all of these primal instincts and instead embark on a journey to mislead and mis-sell, to con and confuse, to disregard and to disappoint. Where does it break down? What are we afraid of and why are we surprised when it all goes wrong?
What we are generally missing is a conversation. So why aren't more of us doing it?
Are we perhaps unsure or unclear on how to go about it? Are we bombarded by ideas and notions that we don't understand? What is social media? Do I need to blog my Twitter onto Facebook and hope that someone is tuning in and will Digg It? Inevitably there isn't one answer. Just as there isn't a rule book covering the other conversations in your life. You should just know - at least if you understand your market.
My advice on communication is simply to drop your barriers, liberate your staff, speak to your customers (and your potential customers) and ultimately enjoy the authenticity of a free and wide-ranging conversation.
David Ferguson is CEO of Nucleus Financial Group
All-day event on 24 April
Consequences could be more severe than in stress tests
AFH has six segregated mandate funds
Variable operating expenses