As we all embrace and further deepen a client-centric model, there are many challenges to overcome and many changes to make. People of all ages and financial situations need caring, knowledgeable advisers of all kinds to help them deal with the complexities of modern life. They need expert financial advisers to simplify their financial lives and help them identify and achieve their visions and aspirations. The opportunity has never been more significant [or expected] for financial advisers to put their clients first; you are needed today more than ever before. You have the opportunity to take an active role in understanding their ‘investment wiring’ and their circumstances, purposes, goals and then to take a stand and advise them what you think is the best course of action for them.
Marketing a financial advice business is about positioning change because at the end of the day that’s what you are going to help your clients achieve; change. You’re going to deliver not only a financial strategy but more importantly change in their emotional state and a step closer to their desires.
One of the ways you can achieve all of that is through the questions you ask and how intently you listen.
Below are some proven ideas that you can use yourself or, distribute to your team. The question you should be asking when you read through this list is, ‘How well are we doing this?’ Perhaps rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Get on your client’s side of the table and let them know you’re there for them. [My question to you is, how do you know you are?]
- Ask great questions. That’s what will distinguish you as a great Adviser. And never be afraid to keep asking.
- Listen very carefully not only to how your clients answer your questions but to the subtext of their answers. Focus. Remember when you can articulate someone’s problem better than they can, they will look to you for the solution. But, you can only do that if you ask great questions, listen and then repeat back to them what you have heard.
- Understand their unique investment wiring; how they feel about money. Help them set and strive for their goals. 80% of us are visual people meaning we make decisions easier if we can ‘see’ things.
- Diagnose the person and their situation thoroughly before prescribing their solution. Engage with mentors and others if required to deliver the best solution for your client. Clients love to hear that there is a team looking after them as well as you.
- Respect your client’s point of view. While you as their adviser can and in some cases should disagree with their position on things, always honour and respect them.
- Temper the financial jargon with plain English speak. An obvious one but you’d be surprised how many Advisers struggle with this.
- Take a stand. Great Advisers aren’t merely ‘yes’ people; don’t just tell your client what they want to hear rather what they need to hear. That’s another sign of a great Adviser.
- Treat every client as an honoured guest but also feel comfortable saying no to the ones that aren’t suitable.
- Your work is essential; be proud of it.
- Never stop learning about your clients. Continue to ask great questions, continue to listen because then you can keep offering great financial advice.
I know through the research that I do, most clients are overwhelmed with all the investing information available to them through the media and Internet. Make sure you don’t overwhelm them too. Don’t ask someone who is overwhelmed with lots of options, confused by the jargon and unsure what is the right thing to do, what they think? If you ask that question, there is a high chance they will say, “I think I need to think about it and talk to others, there’s just so much to take in.”
Once you know your client’s situation and fully understand their investment wiring, it is time to tell them what you as a professional think they should do. Tell them what they should do; that’s value.
As a great adviser, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that advice is about making a difference in your client’s lives. With the right tools, the right questions and commitment, you can advise your clients based on a deep understanding of their needs, wants, hopes and dreams far better than even they can!
Remember it’s the questions you ask that will enable you to differentiate yourself.
To end this post, I’ve jotted down some proven questions. If you don’t use these already, add them to your list. Yes, there are many many more, if you would like then feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org
- What are you hoping your money will accomplish for you?
- When you visualise your future, does anything concern or scare you?
- Does anything about money keep you up at night?
- In what ways do you and your spouse or partner feel differently about money?
- What motivated you to meet with me now?
- What are some of the best financial decisions you have made?
- Tell me more – this is a classic coaching question, you simply keep asking the question until you feel you’ve got to the bottom!