Simon D. Lister, Dip PFS, was only 16 when he realized he wanted a career in financial services. A devastating leg injury had just cut short any thoughts of playing soccer professionally, and Lister had time to consider what his revised future would hold.
“It was clear as day: I knew I wanted to move into finance,” said Lister, a 13-year MDRT member from Wymondham, England, who is the new Top of the Table Global Council Member and Advisory Board Chair. “Every step I took from that moment on was going down that path.”
The trajectory from athletic devastation to MDRT leadership has been marked by early success and a constant belief in investing a great deal and getting even more back.
After all, Lister became an independent financial advisor at 21 and soon was one of the top advisors among 25 in his company. He attributes this to his skills with math, the competitiveness he developed through soccer, the work ethic modeled by his parents, and the dedication and sacrifice he saw as his family moved multiple times during his adolescence as Lister’s father climbed the ranks in the banking field.
Discipline is a big part of what got me to Top of the Table.
Top of the Table
In terms of developing his clientele, he utilized presentations involving pyramids (to show the importance of a foundation of protection) and hills (to identify the steeper climb required when a client waits too long to save) to clarify recommendations. He also thrived on referrals, connecting with centers of influence like estate planners, and giving seminars to establish his credibility.
Ironically, Lister also has learned how to stand on his own through the lessons and support of others. MDRT Past President Tony Gordon, a 44-year member from Bristol, England, became a mentor after Lister, not yet an MDRT member, heard Gordon speak at a regional event in 2006. Lister soon found himself driving five hours to meet with Gordon, who taught him about not only the power of MDRT, but the importance of basics like being accountable for his activity, keeping a strong balance of new and existing clients, not being afraid to ask for referrals and more ways to avoid becoming “a busy fool.”
It’s a big part of how Lister, who began his career with zero clients, has built himself up to 10 Top of the Table qualifications as part of his 13 years of MDRT membership. That, he says, was largely driven by adjusting his goals once he became aware of Top of the Table. He identified how many people he needed to see to achieve this level and didn’t allow himself to leave on a Friday night until the following week was sufficiently booked.
“People can easily fall into the trap of, ‘I’ll do that next week,’” he said. “Discipline is a big part of what got me to Top of the Table.”
He currently operates two offices with a total of 20 staff members, his business partner and himself, handling retirement planning and wealth management for pre- and post-retirees. Lister serves as managing director and focuses more on day-to-day operations, using his attention to detail. Based in the other office,his partner, Craig D. McClurg, a 13-year MDRT member from Wymondham, manages compliance.
Lister is sure to recognize that no one can work as an island, and that his team is a big part of his success. He also highlights the importance of trusting, mutual relationships with colleagues and clients. These generate not just referrals but the openness to share goals and concerns, and the gratitude that comes from being able to retire early, or just successfully.
In his leadership role for Top of the Table, he says it’s important to respect past leaders while looking for ways to create value for members moving forward. That includes focusing on benchmarking and business continuity to identify members’ best practices and techniques for buying and selling businesses. An initiative on mentoring and supporting Court of the Table qualifiers will also, Lister said, help bring in the next generation of Top of the Table members.
As a whole, he added, Top of the Table will continue evolving its structure to support committee members and leaders, allowing more time for people to be challenged and generate ideas.
Invest in yourself
Of course, constant learning and growth are a part of Lister’s life already. It’s why he’s spent his career aligning with accountants, lawyers and other professionals to establish himself as an expert and provide the most knowledge and help for clients. It’s why he’s given MDRT presentations about investing in yourself. It’s why he travels to the U.S. four times per year (be it for meetings, with committees or otherwise), even though some friends outside MDRT can’t understand the trips from a cost-benefit perspective.
“I want to give back as much as I possibly can, and I just keep meeting incredible people who just blow me away all the time,” he said, noting the close friends he has made through MDRT. “The journey has been amazing for that reason. You just want to give back more because of people you get to spend time with.”