As financial advisors we’re comfortable talking about money, it’s what we’re trained to do. But for everyone else it’s a different story. Most people feel uncomfortable talking about money, so you need to consider how to introduce the topic in a relaxed way.
Don’t dive into the numbers at the initial meeting. Instead focus on building rapport with clients; then ask them what it is they want money for. The goals must come first – then the money. Once you understand your client’s vision of the future you can start doing the math on how to get there.
Put clients at ease by telling them about you
Finding a way to get prospects to open up requires a level of trust so let them know about you. Rather than starting off by firing a series of questions, take the time to share details about yourself. Find common ground. Tell them all about yourself, why you became a financial advisor or how you’ve helped people in the past.
Listen intently to build a big picture
Don’t see your first meeting as a sales pitch, see it as a fact-finding mission. Rather than talk, listen intently so you can really begin to understand your clients’ pain points. Once you’ve listened – and have a clearer picture – you can help them focus on how much they will want to spend.
You need to find out what your client’s goals, fears and motivations are. Bring an open mind to the discussion and give clients your full attention. Find out what’s on their mind. Remember when you’re listening to face the client, maintain eye contact, and be attentive but relaxed.
Try to empathize – that’s the key to good listening. And pay attention to what isn’t being said too. You can get a great deal of information about someone from their tone of voice and expression.
Discuss emotions before hard cash
Before you talk about actual dollars talk about feelings. For example, if they’re pre-retirees they may be concerned about losing control of their money and future. At retirement they have to be ready to be with their spouse 24/7 – have they thought about this? Are they prepared to leave their work social life behind? Are they ready to leave what they’re doing and have been doing for 30 or 40 years?
Bringing out the emotional issues is a good way to bond and get clients to think in concrete terms about their future.
Help clients understand their goals
Clients are not always clear about their own goals so it’s up to you to get them talking by asking the right questions. A good way to get clients thinking about money is to ask them ‘why is money important to you?’
Is it because they would like to spend it on hobbies, on their children and grandchildren? Is it because they enjoy travelling, or want to own a second home? Where do they want to live and what do they want to do when they retire – to a condo in Florida to play golf?
Ask open-ended questions to draw out or deduce their goals. Encourage clients to be very specific as they envision their future. Try to get them to imagine in detail what their ideal future looks like – if they like to play golf, ask what kind of golf clubs will they want to use. Rather than simply envisioning a vague future – one in which they’ll ‘retire one day’ – you need to pin those goals down.
Once you’ve established their desires you can restate them as goals. Once you’ve established their goals you can start to make projections on how much money they will need to fund them.
People tend to seek the advice of a financial advisor when they have a problem to solve. Money is seldom a problem in and of itself, it’s a tool to help people get what they really want out of life. Explore your client’s feelings, dreams, meaning and purpose. Ask them what really matters to them – and then you can help them align money with those values. By asking the right questions, listening and letting clients get to know you there’s every chance you can get clients to feel more comfortable discussing their finances with you.
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