Why Who You Are Matters More Than What You Know

The emergence of two new investor segments, women and millennials, both seeking a different type of relationship with their financial organizations, means that advisors have to rethink how they do business. Specifically, investors (especially women) are looking for someone they can connect with on a human level.

What this means is that touting your investing competence and success – the what you know part -- is no longer what matters most. If these investors don’t feel comfortable with you, you are not likely to get their business. But the trick is how to talk about who you are in order to make a genuine connection in a short period of time – our advice to you is, “tell your story.”   

Telling your story means talking about who you are and why you do what you do, not how you do it. Apparently that’s easier said than done for many advisors.

We’ve interviewed hundreds of advisors and although they told us they didn’t have an interesting “story” of their own to share, when we dug a little deeper, it turns out they had a lot to say. Some said they loved the world of finance from an early age, others followed in a parent or relative’s footsteps who seemed to enjoy what they were doing, while yet others saw people being treated poorly by the financial community and figured they deserved better.

Whatever your story is, know this, people understand that advisors have to make a living too, but they are far more likely to work with someone who comes across as a person who genuinely cares.

So take some time to think about your story – write it down. It doesn’t have to be dramatic but it does have to be authentic. However, be careful about your timing – look for natural openings, it usually happens during your initial conversations. If you show interest in their personal lives they are likely to ask about yours. That’s your opportunity.

Example of a story: Albert is a financial advisor we met through LinkedIn.

We asked him to tell us about himself. He began with the usual, “I’m a financial advisor - I look for stocks that are undervalued at current prices but that are worth much more when you consider the history of the company.”

Yikes, we thought! So, we moved to our next question, “How did you get into the business?”

Albert continued somewhat hesitantly, “When I was in high school, I lost my father to cancer. My mother was left a widow at 46 with three kids. We had a house with a mortgage. Though we did get a reasonable lump-sum payout from dad’s insurance, mom had no idea how to manage the money. I am not sure where I got the nerve, but I started reading about investing and together we made some good decisions.

Mom eventually remarried and is happy today, but for me the interest never waned. I went into economics in university, becoming a financial advisor was a natural. I never really thought about it,” he said, “but I guess I get the most enjoyment out of helping people.”

Albert said he had never told any of his prospects this very personal story about himself – honestly he didn’t think it was relevant. He thought it was more important to look confident and to convince his prospects of his investing skills but now two years later his practice is booming and he tells us he feels more connected than ever with his clients and has never had more referrals.

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Related: Advisors: Who’s Going To Eat Your Lunch This Year?