"You're Welcome." Little Words Can Make a Big Difference to Your Clients
“You’re welcome.” It’s a phrase that every one of us learned to say when we were young.
Not just to be polite, but to express our willingness to give something—our time, money, or thought— to someone else. But in today’s increasingly casual world, the words “you’re welcome” seem to be falling by the wayside. I’m on a personal mission to bring them back.
Say thank you to a restaurant server, and many times, the reply you’ll get is a careless, “No problem.” No problem? I hope it’s not a problem for me to pay to for my burger and beer. And by the way, as the customer, isn’t is it my call as to whether there is a problem or not? Sheesh. Say thank you to anyone—from a cashier to a banker to a close friend—and an off-handed “sure” is the likely response. The unrequited thank you is just as prevalent on radio and television: the host thanks the guest for coming on to the show, and the response is not “you’re welcome,” but “Thank YOU!” There are now billions of thank you’s out there waiting for a you’re welcome. They are figuratively starting to pile up on our streets and in our communities. Like sentences without periods, boomerangs waiting to return the unfulfilled thank you is more than an unfinished social nicety, it can be a missed opportunity. Now is the time to make a change.
As an advisor, your client relationships drive your business. If you’re guilty as charged of taking your clients’ thank yous for granted, here’s why you need to change your ways and your words:
Talking about money makes your clients vulnerable.
Amy Florian, the author of No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients Through the Toughest Times of Life, gets it. Whether your clients are coming to you in times of crisis like a divorce, death of a spouse, or financial dilemma (which Florian covers in detail), or times of opportunity like a marriage, career promotion, or inheritance, many conversations about money are charged with emotion. To help advisors avoid the trap of using language that unintentionally alienates distressed clients, she offers specific suggestions for how to respond appropriately to clients. “You’re welcome” is just the beginning when your client is in crisis, but it’s an awfully good place to start.
Your words have the power to strengthen your client relationships.
I’m no psychologist, but I know the impact that words have on my own relationships with people. If I can tell someone is taking in what I’ve said and responding with a thoughtful reply, it tells me not only that they value what I have to say, but also that they know I value what they think. By choosing your response and your words carefully, you are telling your clients that you’re really listening. Assuring them that you care about what they think and what they feel is the strongest relationship builder there is.
Careless language can be misinterpreted as careless business.
I’m not suggesting that every word you say should carry the weight of the world, or that you only use highly proper language when speaking with clients. Every client is different, and it’s important to adapt to your audience. But there’s a big difference between being welcoming and friendly, and being so casual that you appear careless. An offhand comment or careless response to a question can be translated into “You don’t take me seriously.” In many cases, your clients are entrusting you with their life savings. That’s business that should never be treated lightly.
It may sound petty, and I might sound like an old guy ranting on the demise of the English language, but details matter. Words matter. And as an advisor, paying attention to the words you speak to your clients is a critical part of your communication. Saying “You’re welcome” is another way to say, “I hear that you appreciate what I did to help.” That’s something that can be important to say, even if the words sound automatic. Even better, it opens the door for you to continue to help—and that’s what being a trusted advisor is all about.
Let’s face it: it’s hard for people to talk about money. As an advisor, it’s your job to try to make the conversation as easy as possible and to be sure your clients feel that their fears, joys, and expectations are being heard. When you’re able to help, whether that’s with a kind word or the financial guidance they need to take the next step, their “thank you” means a lot. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and fill your “You’re welcome” with the same amount of care. All those forgotten thank you’s that are piling up around us will someday thank you in the end.
An Advisor's Guide to Helping Women Become Savvy Investors
Today, more women than ever are involved in managing their personal and household finances. In a recent study, nearly half of the women surveyed (44%) stated that they are solely responsible for their household financial decisions, compared to 35% of men1. But the study wasn’t all good news. While women may be taking the lead when it comes to their finances, they also reported that they are not confident in doing so. In fact, in every financial category included in the survey, men reported much greater confidence than women. Where was the biggest gap? You guessed it: investing.
For advisors, this presents a challenge and an opportunity. There is a 90% likelihood that a woman will be financially self-reliant at some point in her life due to divorce, becoming a widow, or choosing to marry later in life or not at all2. By taking steps to help your female clients become confident, savvy investors, you’ll not only be more effective at serving in the best interests of these women and their families, but you’ll also be able to build much stronger, more trusted relationships to help ensure each family’s assets remain in your care for decades to come.
Follow these five steps to help your female clients invest with greater confidence:
1. Urge every woman to put her financial needs first.
Women do have a weakness when it comes to planning for the future, but it has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge, skill, or smarts. Their primary weakness is a willingness to put others’ needs first. This is a huge mistake when it comes to planning for the future. Investing for retirement simply can’t wait until the kids are grown or aging parents no longer need care. In fact, based on average life expectancies, women should plan to accumulate enough funds to last at least 20 years after retirement. The following chart illustrates the power of compounding based on an 8% rate of return to help bring that point home:
This hypothetical example assumes an annual 8% rate of return and does not take into account income taxes or investment fees and expenses. This example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. An investor’s actual return is not likely to be consistent from year to year, and there is no guarantee that a specific rate of return will be achieved.
2. Educate women about the power of investing.
Security about any topic is rooted in confidence and knowledge. Educating your female clients about investment basics can help drive more confident decisions and more positive long-term outcomes. From the basics of compounding to the nuts and bolts of researching options and understanding the pros and cons of different asset classes, make it your job to help every client understand what she is buying—and why.
3. Dive into the details of asset allocation.
Asset allocation is by far the largest determinant of a portfolio’s success—even more important than the individual securities selected and timing of an investment. This is critical information for your client to understand as she pursues her financial goals.
4. Discuss how her investment strategy needs to evolve over time.
Part of every client’s financial education should be to understand how financial needs and goals change with each stage of life stage. Because a shorter investment time horizon creates greater vulnerability to market volatility, she needs to understand the impact of shifting a portion of her investment portfolio to more income-oriented investments as she moves closer to retirement. This Life Stages Guide can help you paint a clear picture of how allocation strategies need to evolve to fit her changing needs.
5. Be sure she’s covering all the financial bases.
Smart investing is vital, but missteps in other areas of financial planning can thwart even the best investment plan. Offer every client a basic planning checklist that includes these three important steps:
- Focus on the big picture. Organize your important financial papers and schedule an annual review of your investment strategy with your advisor. Regularly monitor your net worth—including your assets (all investments and savings) and liabilities (mortgage, credit cards, and other debts) to be sure you’re always moving toward your end goal of a secure retirement.
- Pay down any outstanding debt. Debt reduces your net worth, threatens your financial security today, and reduces your ability to invest for the future. Do whatever you can to minimize debt, and build an emergency fund to help pay for any unexpected expenses.
- Make estate planning a priority. Once a year, review your will and your beneficiary designations for every account to be sure they continue to reflect your wishes. If you have children under 18, work with your advisor or estate planner to establish a trust and select a trustee to ensure your assets are managed for the benefit of your children.
As a trusted advisor, make it your mission to provide your female clients with the education and guidance they need to become savvy investors and make the smart, educated financial decisions. By doing so, you can help every woman you work with not only enhance her financial security, but also gain the confidence to take greater control of every aspect of her financial life.
Click here to learn more about IndexIQ.
 Survey conducted by Regions Financial Corp. in partnership with Vanderbilt University, 2015.
 The Simple Dollar, “Guide to Financial Independence for Women,” 2014.
Disclosure: The information and opinions herein are for general information use only. The opinions reflect those of the writers but not necessarily those of New York Life Investment Management LLC (NYLIM). NYLIM does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness, nor does New York Life Investment Management LLC assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Such information and opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security or as personalized investment advice.
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