I love the quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A trusted advisor is now recognized for being authentic, competent, and trustworthy. People are starving for honesty, trust, and someone that makes them feel special. They appreciate someone who makes them feel they are the only ones in the room. They crave professionals who do what they say they will without just giving lip serve. Clients need advisors who don’t take them (and their money) for granted.
Personally, I made a mid-career decision to transition my clients to other advisors so that I could give management a try. At the time, it felt like it was the right move because I have always had a healthy appetite for challenges, and this was a new challenge. However, I struggled almost immediately because the position was much more operational than I expected. I would go home at night, look in the mirror, and ask myself: “Did I add value to anyone’s life today?” Most days, the answer was resounding “No.” I’ve never claimed to be the most analytical person, but I’m a student of the industry that wants to continue learning and I have always had an ability put others before myself. I lost the ability to do that when I lost the opportunity to sit down with real people with real needs and help them get on the right path financially. We have the ability to do that as financial advisors. We can change lives and, potentially, generations of lives with the service we provide.
Financial advisors, I urge you to look beyond the numbers to create stronger relationships with your clients and a more fulfilling life for yourself.
What if we got up every morning and prayed that we would be given an opportunity to help people? What if we viewed every new prospect as someone whose situation we could help improve? What if we go into every appointment with one agenda: only to see if you can add value to someone’s lives?
I believe that people are starved for several things when they are looking for financial help. Our ability to go beyond the numbers and focus on them as people, not on how much money they are paying us, is how we combat the trend that is commoditizing our profession.
So, what are they looking for and what should/could we be provide? What can we financial advisors do?
Let’s start with a few questions to ask yourself and team:
- Do you wake up every morning inspired? If not, figure out “why” you do things and what part of this profession makes you happy.
- Are you truly your clients’ trusted advisor”? If not, why?
- Can you personally invest yourself in a relationship with your clients?
- Ask what you want your clients to experience by working with you. Ask yourself: “Do I need fewer relationships or more team members in order to be more impactful and present in aiding in my client’s financial well-being?” How can we follow through?
Here are 10 considerations:
- Start by being grateful for the opportunity to have them as clients. If you aren’t, maybe they aren’t the right clients for you. It has to be a mutually gratifying relationship. If clients don’t fit in your service model, then consider doing them a favor and finding them an advisor who can give them the level of service they need and deserve.
- Be a problem solver. Do you do what you say you will? I feel like this is lacking at all levels of society. We are so “busy” that we have learned to justify not doing the things we have committed to doing for people.
- Set and communicate reasonable expectations regarding the scope of your work and the timeframe needed to complete it to the best of your ability.
- Focus on their needs and the client experience. Be attentive and actively listen. Money usually only tells part to the story, so be willing to shut up and listen.
- Be passionate and show it. Passion is both authentic and charismatic. We have the ability to garner trust more quickly when we show passion for what we can do for clients.
- Motivate clients to do better: save more and spend less.
- Ask the tough and uncomfortable questions. Advisors do a good job preparing clients for the expected but not always for the unexpected. This is how you really impact lives.
- Don’t make assumptions and paint clients into a box; build a box around your clients. Do it by truly understanding their needs, goals, dreams, and challenges.
- Be obsessed with learning, growing, and trying to find better ways to improve your clients’ lives. How can we put clients in the best position for success when it comes to their goals and dreams?
- Finally, do not be afraid of showing emotion; have compassion. Put yourself in their shoes and have empathy. Intimacy should not be a bad word or a politically incorrect term in the business world. Humility is also valuable characteristic for a financial advisor. Display a quiet
When a young advisor comes to me for advice about getting into the business, I usually start by telling him/her to: “Suit up, show up, learn as much as you can, and never stop learning.” I advise him/her to work with a relentless effort and always put the client’s needs first. I personally believe that “time is more valuable than money.” I have discovered that if I’m doing what is right, if I’m doing what I have a passion for, and if I’m doing it at the level of which I’m most capable, then money will never be an issue.
Ashley Folkes, CFP, CRPC, RICP, is now a Senior Vice President—Investments and Phoenix Complex Manager—at Moors & Cabot. Folkes has 20 years of experience in wealth management as a top producer, and has held several leadership roles in his career, including various producing sales management roles with Merrill Lynch, and AIG. Prior to his new position, Folkes was a founding partner and Director of Private Client Solutions for Signature Wealth Concepts, a division of AXA- Advisors.
Folkes has been a contributor in numerous financial publications and outlets, such asMorningstar, Investment News, MarketWatch, Financial Advisor Magazine and The Street. He is also a member of the Financial Planning Association and the Investments and Wealth