Why Personal Relationships With Clients Matter Now More Than Ever

These days it’s not enough to meet with clients once a year and deliver good rates of return – it requires much more than that.

Unfortunately, most self-help books and courses for financial advisors focus on prospecting. With titles like “10 tips to effective prospecting” or “prospecting for rookies”, the priority is obviously about finding and signing up clients – but that’s only the beginning, keeping them is just as important, if not more so – albeit much trickier.

In order to keep a client you have to develop a personal relationship with them. After all, people are people before they are investors and clients and you can’t possibly serve them well and expect them to stay with you if you know little to nothing beyond their financial status. This is especially true during stressful times like the Covid-19 pandemic when it is more important than ever to be able to engage clients in meaningful discussions about how they are feeling.

However, developing a more personal relationship with a client doesn’t mean becoming best friends – but it does mean that you have to know them well enough to better understand what’s needed, when it’s needed and most importantly why it’s needed.

Nevertheless, when we talk about developing “personal” relationships many advisors get nervous. The question we are most often asked is, “how do I balance a personal and professional relationship”? Getting this right is particularly important but it does require time, patience and good listening skills. Striking the right balance between personal and professional starts with how you go about familiarizing yourself with your client and how you use that information to better connect with them.

So how to do this? Having conversations is great but none of us can remember everything. Make sure you have a good CRM tool and start by creating a profile for each of your clients – include one for both partners if the client is part of a couple. Refer back to your file before every meeting, virtual or otherwise, to make sure you get it right.

Some of the things you should try to learn about them is:

  • the basics of their background, age, sex, education
  • information related to the family -- kids, relationship with parents, siblings, pets
  • find out where they were born, where they lived and what these places mean to them
  • include their vacation history / their likes / dislikes / their favorite restaurants / foods
  • follow their personal interests over time (sports, volunteering, skills, personal interests / hobbies, reading, theatre, music)
  • what about their health/wellness (background, exercise, family history, mental health)
  • do they have pets (dog, cat, other, history of pet ownership)
  • how do they consume news (newspaper, online, magazines, TV) which stories matter most to them and why
  • know what level of comfort they have with technology (adeptness, purpose for use, ownership)

It goes without saying that information like this is not garnered through a “grilling” but rather over time and through casual conversations. Think of it as dating and getting to know the other person as well as you possibly can. We can’t emphasize enough that you should listen more than you talk.

The great thing about getting to know clients is it gives you the ability to link your own interests with theirs. Is there something you both share around health, culture, education, personal interests? Think about how you could better connect around these common interests – perhaps you can show empathy for a client with a parent in long-term care because you have experienced the same thing. Or it might be as simple as, you both love opera or sports – you can share how much you too are missing these events right now.

See where we are going with this? Eventually when you know them well, you can help them make decisions by linking what’s happening in their finances to the lives they lead.

The bottom line – knowing your clients personally means you can be a better advisor to them – through this process you have the ability to make people feel cared about for more than just their money.

For more information on working with women who invest, visit our website www.strategymarketing.ca, sign up to our mailing list and order our book INVEST(in)HER – The Smart Financial Advisor’s Guide to Winning Female Clients in 6 Easy Steps.

Our book INVEST(in)HER links Finding and Keeping Female Clients. But while we primarily focus on what it takes to retain female investors, the same holds true for men as well – that is, developing a personal relationship – one that extends your connection beyond their finances.