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Are You Asking Your Clients the Right Questions?

All of lives we’ve been taught there’s no such thing as a wrong question. This may be true enough in most scenarios, but in financial advising, there are certainly right questions.

Technology has made financial planning more accessible and innovative than ever before; human advisors have to adapt their approach to remain competitive and valuable to clients.

Where technology fails, advisors possess the opportunity to truly learn their clients and offer a service and value that algorithms can’t.

The client experience truly takes form when the advisor can fulfill their needs and goals, by understanding their motivation beyond the dollar amount. Two things to keep in mind with prospects and clients:

You have to have more than sheer enthusiasm.

You can be the most energetic, enthusiastic person in the room and still fail to connect with the client.

Financial advising is more than flaunting your credentials and portfolio; it’s about building trust. To serve your clients, you have first to understand them. “Catch” before you “pitch.”

Connection is key.

Again, experience won’t necessarily win clients. As with most purchases, clients make decisions heavily based on emotion.

If within the first few minutes of a meeting your client doesn’t feel connected to you or your service in any way, you can bet they’re a lost cause.

With these seven questions, financial advisors can win new clients with a people-first perspective:

1. “Tell me about yourself. / Who are you?”

You can frame this question in a multitude of ways, but you get the gist. It is intentionally broad because it allows the prospect to come up with their own answer.

Depending on their answer, you’ll learn what is most important to them, what is at the forefront of their goals, their lifestyle and so on.

If your client fumbles, probe them with follow-up questions about their career, family, hobbies and so on. Think of it as a “getting to know you” phase — it should be enjoyable for both parties! More than likely, you’ll discover commonalities which can be the basis for more conversation and points of connection.

2. “How can I help you?”

The prospect wouldn’t be meeting with you if they didn’t need your help in some way. Why are they here?

This is also the ideal opportunity to explain exactly what you do and do not do, to see how your services align with their goals.

3. “What do you want to achieve?/What are your goals?”

Time to figure out their “why.” Get them talking about their motivation.

  • Are they saving for their family?
  • Do they want to start a new venture?
  • Are they planning for retirement?

Motivations come wide and plentiful, and chances are they have more than one. If the client does not know their motivation or can’t put it into words, work with them to create a framework of their goals.

4. “What are you doing now?”

This is where you start to get down to business. Learn about what actions they’re currently taking, in regards to their finances.

You want to get a broad image of their financial situation, to understand how you can fill the gaps or improve.

5. “What concerns do you have?”

Again, a broad question, but intentionally so. Your client may have concerns about their personal finances, the advising process or investing.

This is a proactive approach to potential “hurdles” down the line, offering you the opportunity to prepare yourself in advance.

6. “Do you feel you are currently meeting your goals?”

If their answer is yes, discover why. If their answer is no, explain how you can help in a few, concise sentences, beginning with a quick summary of their current situation.

If you’re dealing with a couple, they may have conflicting answers. In this scenario, you must be attentive to both sides, so one doesn’t feel neglected in favor of the other.

7. “How do you envision the next steps?”

Put the ball in their court and see where they take it. Nevertheless, you’ll have suggestions of your own. Most importantly, establish your next meeting time, right then and there while the moment is upon you.

Trust is the basis of connection; the fundamental building block to establishing a relationship and winning over new clients. Check out additional resources on client relationships:

Why Is Listening So Hard?

Understanding the Psychological Barriers to Investing

Why Don’t More People Seek Professional Financial Planning?

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Are You Asking Your Clients the Right Questions?
7 go-to questions ALL financial advisors must ask their prospects to gain their trust and build a long-lasting relationship.

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