As an independent financial advisor, it’s essential to fully understand a client’s current situation, goals and challenges to create an effective financial plan for them.
If you’ve recently hit a wall connecting to your clients this week, the Carrick Wealth team recently outlined two crucial factors for you as an independent financial advisor to keep in mind when conducting business.
#1 They’re only human
“There are too many people and too few human beings.”— Robert Zend
One of the most significant competitive advantages you can possibly have as an independent financial advisor is the ability to really listen to your clients and get to know them on a deeper level.
“Make it a habit of staying in contact with your clients regularly. It’s as simple as that,” explains Fred van Niekerk, General Manager of Carrick Partners.
“When things get manic, it’s easy to get tangled up in the process of trying to land a sale that we forget about the living, breathing people on the other end of it all. Figure out what makes them tick, instead of just ticking boxes. Make it your mission to understand their fears, frustrations, their values and view of the world.”
Instead of only relying on email to communicate, he suggests picking up the phone occasionally to ask general check-in questions like: ‘what’s new?’ or ‘what challenges are keeping you up at night?’
“If they like rugby or soccer, check if they enjoyed the game,” he explains. “But beyond that, care enough to be specific and detailed in your communication. For example, ask if baby Sophie is walking yet, if eldest is enjoying his new school, or if Aunty Lizé has recovered from her leg injury.”
Van Niekerk also adds that people are also somewhat predictable in their unpredictability. “Their personal situations can change annually, monthly and even daily, so it’s your responsibility to stay up to speed with what is happening in their lives and actively show that you want the best for them.”
#2 Trust takes time
“Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.” — Arthur Ashe
We know from experience that when you actively involve your customers in their wealth management process, you’re going to feel even more committed to delivering outstanding service that inspires them to want to work with you in the long run.
“Instead of only focusing on what you think is best for a client, ask them if they think it’s right for them,” explains Bradd Bendall, Group Sales Director, Carrick Group. “Don’t ever force or push an agenda and never assume someone perceives a strong cash flow or great performance the same way you do.”
He reminds us how one person may look at a quarterly statement and think ‘great’, while another may see the same numbers and be discouraged.
“Managing expectations and continuing to teach as plans develop are crucial in developing trust. If a client seems unsure about something, it might not be because they don’t want a specific investment plan, but rather because they don’t understand it,” he explains.
“If you go in with a mindset to educate and inform, as well as to preserve and grow their wealth, you’re guaranteed to build credibility with your clients.”
Here are a few more insights from the Carrick Wealth team to help you build trust:
- Speak the truth—simply, and plainly, without embellishment. Truth-telling enhances one’s trust and credibility.
- Know your limits. If you don’t know something, are not the best at something or don’t have all the answers, rather say so.
- If you’re feeling something within your client’s behaviour, acknowledge it. If you notice an emotional fact about the client (concerned, anxious, nervous), comment on it (“you seem a little distracted”).
- Deliver on your promises but don’t make a habit of over-delivering—that could potentially undercut your credibility.
- Offer other approaches and solutions, even if they don’t always ask for it. Having alternative yet helpful suggestions shows high client focus and low self-orientation