The questions you should ask every client

11 December 2018 Myra Knoesen

(Part 1)

If you have spent enough time working as an adviser, Devin Rivera Inbound Business Development Representative at Advicent says, then you have had at least one client whom you regret on boarding.

“The engineer who challenges every number you present. The Ph.D. who knows more than everyone, ignores all advice, and then blames you when he falls off track for retirement. The list goes on,” she says.

“On the other side, I hope that you have also had some dream clients. These clients’ expectations align perfectly with how you run your business, and you wish everyone would just “get it” the way that they do. How, then, can you avoid the former and build up more relationships like the latter?” she continues.

Ask better questions

One strategy, according to Rivera, is plain and simple: ask better questions. Ask the right questions during onboarding.

“Everyone has their own “get to know you” process for prospects. This is your opportunity to learn about their needs and to show the value you can bring to them. Any adviser worth her salt will at least ask basic questions about the client’s finances and financial goals. But consider the impact of asking a few more qualitative questions,” says Rivera.

For example, she says:

  • How do you envision the role of your financial adviser?
  • When it comes to your finances, do you like to delegate the work or would you prefer to be more “hands-on?"
  • When given an in-depth report, do you usually dig through the details or are you happier just reading the summary?

Step out ahead of the pack

If this client has met with other advisers, Rivera says you probably just stepped out ahead of the pack. “Just by asking these questions, you demonstrated that you view your clients as individuals and recognize their various needs. Plus, in the client’s responses you now have crucial insights on what your relationship might look like moving forward.”

If you do decide to on board this client, Rivera says you already know how best to work for, and communicate with, him or her. “You might even be working with a married couple. He prefers to delegate, but she always wants her finger on the pulse. If you know that from the beginning, you can bypass a lot of frustration for both you and your clients.”

“Now these clients have signed with you, and they want to talk about the future. Here is the part where asking the right qualitative questions will have a long term impact on your revenue. You have the chance to understand not only your clients’ goals, but their motivations. You can dig beyond just their financial picture to find out how they think about money,” she conctinues.

In part two of the article we will take a look at the generational shift in the motivation behind long term saving and true customisation, owning your client experience and exceeding expectations.



Part 2

In part one of this article we delved into the importance of asking the right questions when onboarding clients, and how this can have a long term impact on your revenue. 

In part two of the article we will take a look at the generational shift in the motivation behind long term saving, owning your client experience and exceeding expectations. 

A generational shift

“The Merrill Edge Report highlights a generational shift in the motivation behind long term saving. Traditionally, most people have saved with the goal being retirement – leaving the workforce. Most Millennials, by contrast, have their sights set on being able to fund a certain lifestyle. This shift in mindset might be the reason that Millennials are, on average, saving a greater percentage of their income than the generations before them,” emphasised Rivera.

She says try some questions like these:

  • How would you describe your relationship with money?
  • How do you picture your retirement?
  • What does financial freedom mean to you?
  • What are your biggest priorities right now?

Consider what you really want to ask

“This is why investors will continue to seek out financial advisers, even with the prevalence of low-cost robo advice. A good adviser understands more than just the numbers game. If you ask these qualitative questions and really seek to know your clients, you will have the power to increase your revenue. I will explain how:

  1. Clients are less likely to hold assets away from an adviser whom they trust. If you understand their goals and position yourself as a stakeholder in those goals, your clients will want you involved in the full picture.
  2. If you truly understand what motivates your clients, then you can better encourage them to make wiser, maybe even more aggressive, savings decisions.
  3. Rarely do people talk with their friends about how their adviser gained them a half percent on returns by reallocating their portfolio. They do talk about their goals, especially if they are making progress on these goals. If you are a key player in that progress, you can count on new referrals.

From the outset of a client relationship, asking the right questions will help you connect with the right clients and keep them engaged; it will enable you to differentiate your practice and build your brand. Knowing your clients is the best way to drive revenue growth. Take some time today to look at your on boarding process and consider what questions you really want to ask,” she concluded.

Owning your client experience

Brandin Arndt, Business Development Representative at Advicent says one of the biggest sales challenges that financial services firms face today is a way to differentiate themselves in a crowd of hundreds of other firms that offer a very similar service. However, many firms would argue that it is not the service that differentiates you, but the way that you deliver the service.

“The problem lies in the fact that there are two types of customers: those with traditional behaviours and those that have already changed. Those with traditional behaviours are still the source for the most revenue. True customisation at the enterprise level begins with owning your client experience and exceeding the expectations of all of your customers – traditional or not,” said Arndt.

By nature, Martha Collins, Associate Quality Assurance Analyst at Advicent says people want to be known, understood, and appreciated by those with whom they interact. “You, as their financial adviser, are no exception to this desire. You do not need me to tell you that each of your clients have uniquely different past experiences, understandings of their financial situation, and expectations of you. You cannot be successful if you approach each client’s situation in the same way. This is where your self-awareness and empathy can affect the relationships you have with your clients,” she says.


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