Book Review: The Game of Numbers by Nick Murray

Nick Murray wrote the book – Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth – that anchors my beliefs on asset allocation, so I decided to try another one of his books, The Game of Numbers: Professional Prospecting For Financial Advisors.

I’m not a financial advisor and I do not professionally prospect for financial advisory clients. I am, however, a huge fan of author and financial advisor Nick Murray.

It turns out that even though I don’t need financial advisory clients, I could tell from the first chapter that Murray writes directly about my main problems as well. Sometimes I remember the truism that professionally ‘we are all in sales,’ even though I fail to act that way. I will do a lot, for example, to avoid sales and marketing of myself.

A summary of Murray’s advice

Instead of Alec Baldwin’s infamous “Always Be Closing,” a summary version of Murray’s advice for financial advisors could be stated as “always be opening,” or in Murray’s language, ABP, “Always Be Prospecting.”

Murray’s initial axiom of financial advisor success – which seems plausible to me – is that if you continuously prospect, you cannot fail to succeed in your business. He then flips the words and states a kind of inverse truism: If you fail to prospect for new clients, you cannot succeed in your business.

That’s the starting axiom, but he builds on that to deliver his central insight: Many (probably most) of us engage in a whole syndrome of Avoidance behaviors and mindsets that keep us from prospecting like we should. I know I do.

Recognizing this Avoidance, I guess, represents the first step toward overcoming it. Not that overcoming Avoidance can be achieved all at once. Adult behavior change, as a successful businessman once told me, is that hardest of all things. Murray’s practical advice on sticking to a prospecting regimen – similar to a nutritionist or fitness instructor – builds on processes such as tracking baseline data, recognizing avoidance behaviors, using small reward-systems for interim goals achieved, all combined with an absolute faith that long-term success follows from daily, nay, hourly behaviors.

Anecdotally he seems right

I recently completed a consulting gig for a small specialty retail business – coincidentally just a few weeks prior to reading Murrays’ book. The business has a great product, a capable owner as well as manager, but not enough customers.

My single piece of advice for turning around the business was that the owner had to get out there, hit the streets, and start prospecting for new customers, continuously and systematically, for the next three months. The previous business owner had done this and achieved success. There seemed to me nothing stopping this business from success except the lack of prospecting for new customers. I hope he does it, as I’m sure he will find that success follows in short order.

Nick Murray, I suspect, would add that after the three months concludes the business owner should plan on the next three months’ worth of prospecting, and the next three months after that. The need to prospect for new clients never ends.

Murray’s style

Murray credits Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich as an early important influence, and Murray’s writing style can at times resemble Hill’s Capitalized Big Idea, and If You Fully Embrace My Ideas Success Will Follow.

Nick_MurrayAt his best, Murray channels a kind of spiritual leader – urging readers to become the person one is meant to be, to embrace the joy of serving one’s clients, to build as an advisor a financial Ark that can protect families from whatever retirement storms occur, and to live in the hour by hour, moment by moment urgency of doing good work. His style works for me.

I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing his other book that I recently ordered, Behavioral Investment Counseling.


Please see related book review:

Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray


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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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