I was speaking with a client recently about events in her life. Turns out, she is being sued by a neighbor over a minor dispute. After our conversation, she was heading to meet a new attorney and seemed apprehensive.
As I thought this, I realized she had the same kind of feelings many people have prior to meeting with a professional advisor.
Many thoughts race through our minds before meeting a new advisor. Will this advisor be honest? Will they be able to explain things in a way I can understand? Will they be pushy? And on it goes.
Rest assured, these are just a few of the common thoughts that prospective clients have before they meet you.
Uncertainty causes stress and anytime an individual is in this situation, they feel like there are many lingering unknowns.
How you conduct a meeting, interact and treat your clients plays a big role in your success. It affects how much business you close, how many referrals you receive and how much client loyalty you’ll enjoy.
There are several common traits of the advisors who rise to this level. For some, these traits come naturally. Others were taught or had to learn through trial and error.
HONEST UNBIASED ADVICE
It’s no secret honest unbiased advice ranks high on the client’s wish list. That said, some advisors are better than others at portraying honesty.
Clients know when they are being sold versus consulted. Most top producers put their clients through a thorough, consultative process. This feels very different to the client than being pushed into products. Stop trying to sell in every meeting, and instead consult and provide unbiased advice.
Cater to your client’s needs and personal situation. This will make them feel more confident about their decision to do business with you.
EXPERT & EDUCATOR
Clients want to deal with a real expert. If you are not a true financial planner, then become one.
Pushing product is a thing of the past. Most clients have wised up to this old school product pusher. Having a CFP is not mandatory, but highly recommended. Most clients don’t necessarily seek designations, but they appreciate them.
Most of us learned a lot of useless stuff in college. However, having a bachelor’s degree carries a certain amount of weight. Having a masters or Ph.D. carries even more.
Having the designations and certifications is helpful, but having the knowledge is paramount. The more you’re able to impress your clients with insightful, fact-filled information, the better.
The more you teach your clients the better. By becoming your clients financial teacher, will form a stronger bond with them. They will appreciate and respect you more than their last advisor and may just stay with you longer.
ACCESSIBILITY & SERVICE
From a client’s perspective, once they have chosen to do business with a professional, it’s frustrating when they can’t get an audience with them.
Most clients reach out to their advisors when they need something. Usually it’s a quick question that can be answered on the spot. They become frustrated when they have to wait hours or days to receive an answer.
At my firm, the Rummage Group, my consultants answer their own phones and all of us focus on being highly accessible to our clients. If we are unable to answer a call, our goal is to get back to our clients within an hour. This is a good goal for financial advisors.
Once you have a client, keeping them happy is important. All advisors should have an operating procedure for providing excellent service to their clients. If you don’t, another advisor will.
What would your clients say about you if they were being honest? Do they like you? Are they familiar with you as a person? Do you know the names of their family and do they know yours?
Some will tell you to keep your relationships with clients purely professional. I think professionalism is critical, however your relationships will not be as deep if you don’t go personal.
Spend a few minutes every meeting getting to know your clients. Get them talking about the things which interest them. Meet them outside of the office as often as possible. Go to their favorite restaurant, their home or even their office. This alone will make them feel closer to you and strengthen the relationship.
Give to get. This means you should tell them something about yourself to get them talking about themselves. Make them feel you are not just a financial robot, but instead a person with a life outside of financial planning. On average, top advisors are better than others at taking the time to build stronger client relationships.
Strong relationships are also what make clients follow you when you eventually change firms. Advisors without relationships are just transactions to the clients.
In the end, all four of these tips will help increase your closing rate, client satisfaction, the number of referrals you receive and percentage of clients who will follow you throughout your career.
Here at the Rummage Group, we consult advisors daily who have lost too many clients in a move to a new firm. This is usually because these advisors haven’t done a sound job regarding thee four categories.
As I have stated many times, an advisor without loyal clients is not much of an advisor. If you are honest, viewed as an expert, provide outstanding service and build strong relationships, you can become a top-tier advisor.