Keep in mind that the first meeting with a client is an interview, not a sales pitch. Your potential client is watching you very closely from the moment that you greet him or her. If you are a pushy salesperson with cookie-cutter talking points bent on touting your firm's superiority, it is unlikely that you will get a second meeting at which you could find out the real wealth of the person in front of you.
Instead, consider these three simple principles as a guide to winning the privilege of managing an investor's assets. Listen. It is so easy to walk into an introductory meeting and unleash a laundry list of your capabilities, offerings, products and investment philosophy. But remember, it isn't about you.The first meeting has to be about them and what you can do to make their dreams a reality. Unless they ask you to lead by directly addressing what it is that you do, leave your script at the office. Using scripted talking points won't get you anywhere but crossed off their list. You are much better off spending the first portion of a meeting asking smart questions and listening carefully. Investors want to know that you hear them. They want to be assured that you understand their goals. How can they ever trust in your ability to achieve these goals if you don't first show an interest in finding out what they are?Great financial advisers know this and checked their egos years ago. Respect an investor's intelligence. Investors aren't dumb. In most cases, they simply don't have the time or the drive to get into the nitty-gritty details of managing their assets.In fact, more often, they are smarter than the adviser who is going to manage their money. They accumulated wealth for you to manage by being busy doing something else, and many did so in a brilliant way.You have a very short amount of time to give them confidence in your ability to handle these matters for them, so don't waste it blowing hot air into the room about yourself or your firm. When it is your turn to talk, treat them like a partner.Don't talk down to them or make things sound more complicated than they are. Be accommodating and transparent when it comes to the less understood aspects of the business, such as fee structures and performance expectations for various funds.Like any business that your potential client runs, has sold or manages, wealth management is a complex, strategic undertaking. But it is your job to make it accessible to your clients at the level at which they feel comfortable being involved.Go above and beyond. I say this a lot, but when you go above and beyond with the client's interests in mind, it usually results in a win for all parties.For example, let's say you know that you have the potential to get a maximum of only 60% of a potential client's assets under your management because the other 40% is locked in a corporate-run 401(k). Instead of leaving a potential client directionless on a significant portion of his or her wealth, offer to go over that strategy, as well, and make objective recommendations on how to manage the return. You might not benefit from this gesture directly, but you will prove that you care about an investor's overall success, not just their impact on your profitability.If you take the time to listen, show your clients respect and offer them an immediate service standard of distinction, you will get a lot further than you would with someone who is selling only: “What is your risk tolerance?” and, “Here is my historic-growth chart.”What you will get is that second meeting.