Trust is not the objective in an advisor-client relationship. Rather, trust is a byproduct of the other things you do, such as your behavior, your communication, and the quality of your work.
If gaining your clients’ trust is your objective, then the focus is in the wrong place: you. When your goal is to establish trust, it might be to further your agenda: “I have to get them to trust me so they hire me, so they give me assets, so they buy my product or idea” and so on.
Consider this point of view instead: “I am going to show up relaxed, be authentic and professional, create a great client meeting experience, ask great questions, listen with empathy, be well-organized, respect their time by not bragging about myself or my company or over-explaining financial concepts and ideas, and be selective about letting only right-fit people join my community of ideal clients. If, in the process of behaving this way, they trust me and hire me, fine. If not, that’s OK, too.”
You may be concerned that relaxing or abandoning a more intense sales focus will diminish your results. Actually, the contrary is true. Which is more likely to attract successful people as clients: the relaxed trusted advisor or the intense salesperson? Relaxed doesn’t mean lacking in passion for helping people make smart choices about their money. It means that you don’t show up with what we used to call “commission breath.”
Below are nine time-tested ideas for behaving in ways that create the byproduct of trust.
1. Look for right-fit people to join your client community versus going after anyone with money. Create an ideal client profile where personality is equally important to money for them to earn an invitation to join your client community. Notice the difference in how it feels to think of inviting people to do business with you versus thinking only of closing the deal.
2. Ask good questions about your clients’ values and goals: What’s important about money to you? What are your tangible goals that require money and planning to achieve? How much do you want to have for that goal? By when? What are two or three words that describe what you are thinking and feeling once you have achieved that goal? Does the idea of having a comprehensive financial plan that gives you a higher probability of achieving your goals and fulfilling your what is truly important to you in life (your core values) appeal to you? Would you like to join our client community and have us do this work for you?
3. Listen with empathy. The tendency, especially during an initial client interview, is to think about what you are going to say next while they are answering your question. When you do this, you don’t really hear what they said. It’s difficult to be empathetic to things you weren’t mentally present to hear. The solution is to have your questions memorized so you don’t have to think about what you are going to ask next, thus allowing you to be fully present and a much more empathic listener.
4. Record your client meetings, especially the initial client interview. You may have seen one of my previous articles in a magazine before about recording client meetings. To save you the trouble of searching back issues here’s a script for introducing the recorder. “I appreciate the investment of time and effort you made to be here today. The fact that you have done so tells me that you must be serious about your money – is that true? (Pause for answer.) You’ll notice that I’ll ask many relevant questions, take copious notes, and I also record the meeting. (Refer to the recorder and pause.) The reason I record is because I’m very thorough. (Pause.) Do you know how you can watch a movie a second or third time and see things you missed the first time?” (Long pause for response.) “Well giving you advice about your money so you can achieve your goals is obviously much more important than a movie, so I want to make sure our advice is right for you. If we choose to work together, I’ll listen to this recording at least one more time to make sure to get it right.” (pause) Ask your first question.
5. Give advice with conviction. Salespeople tend to offer alternatives and let the prospect or client choose. Trusted Advisors gather all the information they need, consult with other experts where appropriate, and – with conviction – give the best advice for the client. There may be more than one way to achieve a goal, but there is only one best way. Find the best way and give advice with conviction.
6. Tell the truth, even if doing so jeopardizes the relationship. Serious and successful people don’t want to pay good money for a rubber-stamp, “yes-person” telling them only what they want to hear. It’s your job to tell the truth, especially when it’s what they need to hear and not what they want to hear.
7. Be inspiring. Focus on helping clients and prospective clients create a compelling vision for their future and become their bridge to make it happen. Being a future vision creator is much more trust-building than being a problem-solver.
8. Be a comprehensive financial professional. It’s interesting that most financial advisors claim to be comprehensive, which implies “everything.” Do you really help your clients take care of everything related to their money? Check out www.blog.trustedadvisortoolkit.com for discussions about delivering truly comprehensive financial services.
9. Put the client first. It sounds almost silly; yet, there is a lot of discussion and controversy by regulators and industry leaders about the fiduciary standard. It’s simple. In all situations, under all circumstances, put your client’s needs ahead of your own. Isn’t that what you already do? The good news is that your competition needs somebody else to define integrity for them.
Keep in mind that these are not tactics to build trust. They are powerful behaviors of financial professionals who are very good at what they do and who genuinely care about helping people get their entire financial house in order, achieve their goals and fulfill what is truly important to them in life (their core values). By behaving at this very high level of professionalism, your clients’ trust is the byproduct of that behavior.
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