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If you’re a financial advisor, this will be one of the most important articles you ever read. Print it out and put it on your desk if you want.
I recently had a chat with someone who handles the hiring, training, etc. for a very large financial services company. He expressed concern about the high turnover rate among his company’s financial advisors.
This is a company that has probably put MILLIONS of dollars into training their people and they still get mediocre results.
It’s because the whole thing is built on a flawed foundation.
Imagine buying a Ferrari that needs a little TLC. You then labor for MONTHS, putting in new interior, sanding and painting the body, installing a sound system, and even dangling some fuzzy dice. You get the vehicle completely restored and decide to reward yourself with a drive.
This is it. Months of hard work will pay off as soon as you turn the ignition and hear that Italian motor roar. You sit in the brand new leather seats (which you installed), put the key in, and crank….
There’s no engine.
That’s what it’s like training financial services professionals with a flawed foundation.
You can make people read books, attend lectures, and even give them “mentors”, but none of it matters if they don’t understand what the end consumer wants from a financial advisor.
It’s like training to become an Olympic weightlifter, only to find out you’re competing in track and field.
Until you understand what real people really want from a financial advisor, you’ll always be driving with the brake on.
Fortunately, I’m going to share with you what people really want from financial advisors.
Newsflash: it’s NOT fancy credentials.
It’s NOT necessarily your investment strategy.
It’s NOT the nicest suit or flashiest Rolex.
1. They want someone who will understand their situation.
How well do you understand your prospects? Can you empathize with them and relate to their struggles?
This is why I don’t understand why so many older financial advisors are trying so hard to understand and market to millennials. Why? Just work with older people. It sounds harsh to put it that way, but it’s just easier for someone to feel you understand him or her when you’re both similar.
Another powerful way to let people know that you understand their situation is through social proof. You can do this by choosing a niche and focusing on that niche. When you do that, you can let prospects know that you specialize in working with a certain type of person. If your prospects fit that avatar, they will instantly feel as if you understand their situation.
2. They want someone who will educate them.
Dave Ramsey calls this having the “heart of a teacher”, and it’s pretty darn important.
But this is something that a lot of financial advisors get wrong. They hear this advice and try their best to educate their clients. Then they take it way too far.
The key here is to remember to keep it simple, Very simple.
Your clients aren’t naïve or stupid, but you probably know way more about finances than they ever will. Usually, the more you know about a particular topic, the more complex your explanations become (simply because you understand it more), which causes the “education” to go right over your prospects’ heads.
When this happens, the financial advisor will think the appointment went well while the prospect leaves confused, too embarrassed to speak up. And remember, the only opinion that matters is the prospect’s opinion!
Don’t use jargon and complex language to make yourself look smart. I know you think it elevates you in the eyes of your prospects, but it doesn’t. It usually intimidates them and people don’t want to entrust their financial fate to someone who intimidates them.
Oh yeah, and don’t assume that prospects understand more than they actually do. They will often act like they understand when they actually don’t.
3. They want someone who will respect their assets, no matter how small.
One of the biggest reasons why people don’t seek out a financial advisor is because they feel as if they don’t have enough money to invest.
There’s a perception that you have to be a millionaire or multi-millionaire before you even consider a financial advisor.
According to a survey by Harris Interactive:
Of course, if you have strict account minimums (which you should have if you have a solid book of business), then this doesn’t really apply to you. But if you need to grow your book of business fast, let prospects know that they don’t need $500K or more just to speak with you.
This is probably THE BIGGEST unspoken objection for financial advisors. Make sure you handle it.
4. They want someone who will solve their problems, not pitch products.
This goes hand-in-hand with #1. If you understand your prospect’s situation, you will stand a better chance at solving his or her problems.
You don’t need to sell products themselves, but you do need to “sell” the idea of financial planning, saving for retirement, insurance etc.
This could be a whole article by itself. Check out: How Financial Advisors Can Sell Without Being Pushy
Remember… the affluent don’t want a sales pitch.
5. They want someone who will keep in touch.
How often do you keep in touch with your prospects?
If you can’t keep in touch when you’re trying to earn their business, you give prospects the message that you won’t keep in touch if they become clients.
Face it - most people think of financial advisors as commodities. And until you develop a niche and/or a particular area of expertise, you ARE a commodity… unless you focus on the relational aspect of the business.
This part isn’t cut-and-dry as the rest. How exactly you keep in touch largely depends on your personality and your prospect/client base.
Some people want to meet with financial advisors every quarter, while others think that’s overkill. Some financial advisors like sending quarterly reports instead, summarizing current events and market news.
My personal recommendation is to look for “excuses” to contact not only your clients, but people in your pipeline. If one just had a baby, congratulate him or her and send a gift if you want. If you find out someone is going to start a business, reach out and ask if he or she has thought about private disability insurance. The key here is to have a pertinent reason for staying top of mind.
Here’s a rule of thumb you can use about communication: good communication alone will never sustain a relationship, but poor communication will almost always break it.
This whole piece assumes that you have both integrity and competency. An advisor should never lie, even by omission. A fiduciary standard is important. You also need to have the ability to help another person manage his or her finances. Without a baseline level of competency, you’re dead in the water. Assuming you operate competently and with integrity, you will be miles ahead of your competition if you remember the above five things.