Let’s chat about the backbone of the business, client relationships. Client relationships are fragile. As soon as their money’s exposed to volatility, clients are on an emotional roller coaster ride and they need a lot of attention. And all too often, we get caught up in the details of products and services we’re offering to notice that our attention may have slipped. And I can tell you without hesitation that the minute your client feels your service is no longer personalized, he or she becomes your competition’s best prospect.
#1. Avoid the trap of role reversal
Even when you know your role is to be strong for your clients, there are going to be times when your resolve slips. You know that your clients need to continue with their investment journey during market downturns, but you can’t help but feel bad for them when they see their assets tumble. It drives us crazy.
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Maybe even though your client is at an informal setting, you might bump into them at the golf club or see them at church. And that brings the situation even closer to home.
If you want to manage your relationship, you must remember that no matter how much empathy you feel, you need to keep their overall financial goals uppermost in your mind. If you start wavering, you’ll see the balance of control shift from you to the client.
And there will be times when your client loses resolve when you know abandoning the plan’s the wrong thing to do. And that’s precisely when you have to remain a leader. You’re not paid to manage returns; you’re paid to manage expectations. So don’t get caught up in a role reversal, keep the faith and continue to lead them so that they’ll follow you.
#2. Be persuasive
You don’t have to regulate your client’s behavior. So be a gentle bully. If you don’t, your clients will one day lament, they didn’t do the right thing.
For instance, they may say to you, they want to wait until things get better before acting. Tell them there’s no such thing as a perfect time to invest. The problem is that for many people future events look like a lifetime away. You have to tell them in 180 months, their three-year-old child’s going to be in college. That puts it in focus. There’s no time to waste.
#3. Develop your listening skills
The depth of your relationship with a client is directly related to how well you know them. The only way you get to know them is to listen to them. Listening skills are just as important as verbal skills and presentation skills. So don’t assume you’re good at listening. We all need lots of practice.
Simply doing your job won’t get you a 10 out of 10. Achieving your client’s financial goals is simply part of your job. When you dine out and the food’s great, but the service is lousy, you’re not going to recommend that restaurant. So be a cut above and treat your clients like VIPs. Become a trusted friend and be there for them on all levels. Don’t be like other advisors who use caring as a shallow marketing technique.
#5. Keep it simple
When the world appears to be spiraling out of control, the best way to restore balance is to make things simple. Be calm, be self-assured, ignore the short-term noise, and make yourself a beacon of anti-stress for your clients when times are tough.
The job of a financial advisor is all about creating relationships that last. So, take the lead, have confidence in what you say, listen attentively, and you’ll establish yourself as a positive influence in your clients’ lives. And that’s what relationship building is all about.