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Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Legislation vs. Sales

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It was brought to my attention a short while ago that the new "Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Legislation" could really hamper the sales efforts of the team – especially when opening new accounts. At first glance that could be true and the way many people are feeling. I mean, here's this new legislation getting imposed on you where you have to actually ask someone if they are a "Politically Exposed Foreign Person"! As if you didn't have enough to do! Now you have a legal requirement to ask all of these probing, intrusive questions when opening accounts just to make sure you know exactly who it is you are dealing with and what they intend to do with the money/account.

Hey, wait a minute!


I think the phrase, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" actually might be true in this case!

Think about it! The new legislation forces you to get inquisitive. Call me crazy, but that sounds to me like our job as a sales person anyway! As a sales person, you want to know everything there is to know about your clients because if you can really get to know them, their situation, and their banking history, you can be in a better place to suggest different products and services.

Let me put it another way: The new legislation gives you a reason - no, better than a reason - it gives you an obligation to be really super nosey!

What should you do?

Here's what most of you will do … or at least should do to rationalize why you are asking your Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and Regulations (PCMLTFA) questions: you'll say to the new prospective client opening an account that because of this new legislation you are going to have to ask some questions that may seem a bit odd or different. We call that "Preconditioning". Preconditioning is when you tell someone what you are going to do, why you'll do it, and how it will benefit them. Think of it as warming someone up to an idea.

So you'll start your sales interview by preconditioning the client as to why you have to ask all of these weird questions. You will tell them that the government has introduced this new legislation and it's designed to protect us all from big bad terrorists and it's really in our best interest but to make sure we are protecting our clients we need to ask some strange questions. Shoot, the government has even handing out brochures to help you explain why you need to be so inquisitive!

This legislation will help your sales

How does it help your sales? Well, after you precondition your interview (i.e. tell them why you need to be so inquisitive) the client doesn't know which questions you are asking because of the legislation and which questions you are asking from a purely sales point of view. All they know is that you said you'd be asking some questions that may appear to be nosey.

So, what's a sales person to do? Be prepared for starters. It's interesting how much preparation and training is going into making sure everyone knows what they should be asking clients as a result of this new legislation. As I said, they have brochures, training, and a list of questions you need to ask all prepared in advance to make certain the conversations go as smoothly as possible. Everyone I talk to lately is in a flap about this because it's required and the process has to be in place by a certain date. Despite the fact that no one has time for this sort of thing, everyone is getting it done.

Makes you think doesn't it? What really is important?

How much time have we invested in developing and memorizing the best sales questions to ask when opening a new account? Given the opportunity a new account opening presents to cross sell additional products and set up a relationship for life we should have our sales questions mastered and be leaving nothing to chance. Can we set a deadline for that activity? Can we get just as prepared? Is there as much urgency surrounding the sales component of those conversations or is it just an after-thought?

The new legislation creates a natural opportunity for us to get a little more inquisitive when opening new accounts.  Be careful to respect the client's information and intersperse your "terrorist questions" with good sales questions designed to uncover dissatisfaction they are experiencing with current financial products they have elsewhere. Use the information wisely to lead to effective transition questions but ultimately, you should just say "thank you" to the government and enjoy the momentum you can create by having a client in front of you that is preconditioned to having you asking inquisitive questions.

"In the end it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."
-- Max Dupree, Author

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