Successful advisors tend to have two distinct traits: they’re great with people and possess amazing listening skills. Whether they are meeting with a new or an established client, a successful advisor always employs a process of interviewing and learning.
Information gathering is the most important aspect of any client meeting, but it is the type of information you get and how you go about gathering it that matters the most.
Advisors who ask first and sell later often get their clients to open up and share their personal goals and dreams, thus forming trusting relationships and more referrals among friends and family.
Most people are reluctant to discuss money – even with their financial advisor, but having an open, transparent dialog about your clients’ finances should always be the goal. Successful advisors take an interest in their clients’ lives and situations. They listen more and ask more questions before they start offering advice. It goes without saying that less energy should be spent on selling products and investment strategies to clients and more attention should be given to clients’ personal needs.
Talking to your client and not at them will also help you establish a great relationship. Go to each meeting knowing the basic information, but ask open-ended questions. Allow the client the time he/she needs to assess their unique financial situation and pinpoint key future financial needs.
Be sure to take meticulous notes when the client answers your questions, so you can review them and make sure you understand the concerns. Explore their comfort zones and see how far you can push. Don’t be afraid to ask the client to explain further or clarify answers. Doing so further engages you both in the conversation, allowing the client to provide additional information you may not have captured the first time.
By listening, you can learn a great deal about the client: how they think, what drives them, their opinions on risk, etc. This fact finding will help you recommend the right products and services for your client’s needs and comfort levels.
You should also pay attention to body language. If your client appears disinterested or uncomfortable with your questions, try changing tactics. Asking the right questions can often get the conversation going.
InvestmentNews recently published some tried and true queries that advisors use to help get the ball rolling:
Envision retirement. “You are retired. It is 10:30, Wednesday morning. What will you be doing all day?”
Bring the wand. “If I had a magic wand, what are the three biggest financial problems I would solve for you?”
Make them filthy rich. “If I gave you all the money you’d ever need to live your life and I only required you to get up every day and do something that totally excites you or fills your tank, but you didn’t have to do it for the money, what would that be?”
Define success. “Besides making great investments, what would you consider a successful year?”
Lighten the load. “If you could do one thing to make life easier, what would it be and why?”
Chart a course. “Where are you, compared to your ideal course for life: in the center of the lane, veering off the road, in the ditch, going the wrong direction?”
Look back. “Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently in terms of your financial life?”
Prioritize the bucket list. “We can sit here and talk about numbers and dollars, but that is going to get pretty boring pretty quickly. Five or 10 years from now, what sort of things would you like to have crossed off your list to make you feel like you accomplished something?”
Frame the aims. “What goals are in the painting of your ideal future?”
Summit Brokerage Services is a member of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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