Financial planners will be in a better position to understand clients’ need by connecting with them on an emotional level, writes Amyr Rocha-Lima MCSI, financial planner at Holland Hahn & Wills LLP, and member of the CISI Financial Planning Forum Committee
A successful financial planner requires an extensive skill set; one that extends beyond the technical knowledge of the latest financial products and solutions. Interpersonal and communication skills are vital to gain clients and, more importantly, retain them.
By connecting with clients on a personal level, financial planners will be in a better position to understand their needs. This allows advisers to provide the ideal solution for clients, and offer motivation and support to act on their plan and reach their financial goals.
Asking good, open-ended questions throughout meetings will encourage clients to open up about their aspirations for retirement. Make eye contact and engage fully in the conversation by listening actively. Concentrate, show empathy, be aware of your body language (avoid jotting down notes and mentally preparing a sales pitch) and paraphrase back to your clients what they say. Doing this will help you to secure a human connection with your clients and set your business apart from others. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much you can remember if you are really present in the meeting.
Below are some open-ended questions to help engage your clients.
1. What prompted you to contact a financial planner?
At the initial meeting with a prospective client, it’s tempting to list all the reasons why you should be the one to help them with their financial problems. However, rather than going straight into salesperson mode, begin the meeting by asking this valuable question. Your prospect will have the opportunity to explain what they need help with – and you’ll have a chance to listen actively.
2. What would be a great outcome for you in working with a financial planner?
This will prompt them to set out their expectations for how they believe a financial planner can help them. Essentially, they will tell you what they want from you, giving you a chance to deliver (and exceed) their expectations.
3. What would be a great outcome for you from this meeting today?
The client should walk away from the meeting feeling happy about the time they invested in it. This question ensures your client leaves feeling appreciated and confident that your services and personalised recommendations will be precisely what they require.
4. What does retirement mean to you?
For many people, retirement isn’t about giving up work and doing nothing during their golden years. Some retirees may want to carry on working to some extent, perhaps on a part-time basis, which would mean they’d be generating some level of income.
Others may want to spend time travelling, in which case, a healthy retirement income would be vital. And one half of a couple, for example, might have an entirely different view of retirement to the other.
5. What are your biggest concerns right now?
Ask this if the client has not volunteered this information when answering the questions above. They might be worried about something, which in turn could directly affect their financial situation. Their answer may result in you recommending a completely different strategy for them than the one you were initially planning.
6. What changes or challenges do you expect to happen in the next five years?
Predicting the future is impossible of course, but your client may have an idea of life events (redundancies on the horizon at work; a child’s university fees) coming up over the next few years that may change their financial priorities.
Deliver more than a financial product
Financial planning, and retirement planning especially, is about more than how much money your client needs. It’s about the quality of life they want achieve and maintain for themselves and their loved ones.
By really listening to what your client is saying about their goals, concerns, and dreams, you’ll be able to deliver a sound financial plan that will get them to where they want to be. And by connecting with them on a personal level, you’re more likely to build a solid long-term relationship with them too.
This article was originally published in Citywire. Republished with permission