Most clients have simple goals — they want to make money and feel confident upon retirement. However, many feel that financial planning is overly complex. They simply want an advisor to handle the responsibility on their behalf.
Clients know their limits, and they rely on your expertise and knowledge to help them invest in various platforms and shield against risk. When you set reasonable expectations, you’ll develop trust and confidence as the relationship builds. Helping to manage your clients’ expectations starts by following these five important principles.
1. Deliver on Your Claims
It’s human nature to promote success stories and minimize things that have not gone as planned. While you can talk about previous performance, be careful about linking past results with future returns.
One big reason why clients fire their advisors is overselling their abilities; the most typical is over-promising and under-delivering.1 In an effort to “win” business, advisors shouldn’t make statements to clients that ultimately prove too good to be true.
There are some investment options, like annuities, that allow you to discuss how much risk your client is taking on each year. Clients appreciate straight talk from their advisor, and that means setting the right expectations from the start.
2. Speak in Their Language
Many investors are overwhelmed by the complexities of investment portfolios, especially when regulatory changes occur, key performance indicators are assessed, tax implications are realized or new products come on the scene. Add in industry speak, acronyms and financial sector jargon, and even the most seasoned investor becomes confused.
For some, simple distinctions such as the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth can be unclear. If you’re meeting with a married couple, for example, one spouse may fully grasp the intricacies of a platform, while the other stares blankly at the colorful graph placed before him or her. Take the opportunity to educate your clients using easy-to-understand language, practical examples and relatable scenarios.
There’s an even greater attribute of communication…listening. The art of listening is more than just hearing. Active listening involves receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering and providing feedback on the information you just heard. It may involve probing deeper with questions that get at the root of an investor’s fears. Or it might mean more fully understanding his or her future ambitions.
When you became an advisor, you likely never imagined you’d need to master various psychology competencies. But when it comes to a client’s money, the emotional connection and anxiety surrounding his or her investments should be handled with care. When you take steps to become a better listener,2 you can build trust and rapport with your client.
4. Be Responsive
You’ve likely been in the position where you’ve left multiple voicemails and sent several emails to a client with no response. You know how easy it is to become frustrated.
When the tables are turned, and your clients are the ones trying to contact you, they experience similar frustrations and heightened anxiety. When possible, schedule a designated time each day to respond to inquiries. Use your CRM to manage relationships by keeping good notes from previous interactions. Let them know you’re working hard to help build their future. If you receive frantic calls every time there’s a hyped-up news story concerning the latest economic turmoil, consider ways to proactively coach your clients and nurture the relationships so they know you’re on top of things.
5. Check In
Above, in the “deliver on your claims” principle, we mentioned one reason why financial advisors get fired. Well, here’s No. 1. Failure to communicate with clients is usually the underlying problem that causes investors to go elsewhere.1
Advisors should look for reasons to check in with clients to discuss any changes in their financial situation.
- Have they changed jobs?
- Did they receive an inheritance?
- Did they downsize their home?
- Have they finished paying off a student loan or mortgage?
Life can change quickly, and so can a person’s financial standing. Even if you don’t have a particular reason, meeting regularly with clients may help them feel informed and cared for. It also could help them know they’re not just another account on the books, but rather a valued client with unique circumstances, needs and goals.
There’s more to being a successful advisor than helping manage money; you also need to help manage client expectations and relationships. Building relationships based on these principles can help you create realistic expectations, set attainable goals and, ultimately, create satisfied clients.
Your clients who may be near retirement could be looking for strategies that make them feel safe and secure. You can share seven essential tips to alleviate clients’ concerns found in our guide: Step by Step Guide to Helping Your Clients Achieve Financial Security and Satisfaction in Retirement. Click on the button below for your copy.
1Investopedia, Why Clients Fire Financial Advisors, October 11, 2018
2inc, 10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Listening (and Networking) Skills, January 10, 2018