Asking someone you’ve never met to trust you with their finances can be a daunting conversation to face.
To newcomers to the industry, the idea of building trust and confidence sounds like an uphill battle with a lot of rejection along the way.
Here’s what veteran advisors had to offer about talking to perspective clients and taking first steps with new clients.
The first piece of advice from veteran advisors is to use your existing network to help you get started.
“I’ve really made it a point to sit down with centers of influence like accountants and attorneys,” Darrin Shebesta, wealth advisor at Jackson Roskelley Wealth Advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz. said. “Because they’re trusted folks, people in their circles will reach out and say, ‘hey, I was trying to find a planner, do you know anyone?’”
In addition to his professional network, Shebesta says it’s not a bad idea to talk to people from your past either and open up a dialogue.
“There are people I meet with and we’ll catch and up and it’ll come up – what I’m doing,” Shebesta said. “It gives me an opportunity to say, ‘look I’ve never really asked you, but would you be open to having a conversation about your own situation?’”
Lastly, Shebesta says word of mouth from current clients has helped him expand his network and gain new clients.
Finding out where a potential client’s comfort levels are is key. For Marguerita Cheng, co-founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, that means communicating with them however they are comfortable.
“First, I always send an email if it’s a web lead. I don’t want to catch anyone unannounced. If it’s a referral who has called me, I will call back.” Cheng said.
The First Meeting
The first time meeting with a client can come with a lot of anxiety for both parties. Clients are looking for someone reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable. Advisors, on the other hand, are looking for eager-eyed clients who acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and who aren’t afraid to ask for advice or suggestions.
To make the first meeting easier, Shebesta follows a bare-bones outline to make sure nerves don’t get the better of either party and the meeting stays on track.
Shebesta goes over eight items with prospective clients:
Meeting purpose – What brings the client in? Is it a change of life event?
Client situation – Ask the client to describe their financial situation including concerns, fears and successes.
Who we are and what we do – Tell the client about the firm, its employees and any specialties the firm has.
Areas of financial planning – What areas are applicable to the client? Why? Explain the differences between the different areas of planning.
Financial planning process - If they aren’t familiar with the process now is a good time to walk potential clients through it. This will give them an idea of what to expect. Be ready for questions.
Costs – Don’t forget the numbers! Talk about payment openly, and not just dollar amount – discuss any up-front costs, fee models and give estimates when needed.
Additional questions – This is a chance for the other party to ask any unanswered questions. In case they forget to ask one or think of one later, make sure they know how to get a hold of you.
Next steps – If both parties are in agreement that working together would be beneficial, discuss clearly and concisely what the next step are. Is anything needed of the client? Is there a deadline? What is needed? Don’t let clients get lost in the process.
Sometimes, It’s Just Not A Good Fit
Early on in financial services it can be hard to turn potential clients away, even if you don’t think the individual is a good candidate for your skill set. Shebesta said, it’s a skill that has taken him a few years to master.
“What’s freeing for me is that I know that I cannot work with everyone in the world,” said Shebesta. “There are some people that are a good fit and some that are not, but I’ve learned to be unattached to the outcome.”
Being able to discern which clients are a good fit and which are not is something Shebesta believes "comes with confidence.” He also says it’s a trait unique to the financial services realm.
Other seasoned advisors are in agreement. Holly Donaldson, founder of Holly Donaldson Financial Planning LLC in Seminole, Fla. said after a half-hour long complimentary session, her and the potential client have to mutually agree that an appointment is the right step and the best step.
“… I am not presuming I can help everybody, but if I can, they should be able to make a decision at the end of 30 minutes,” Donaldson said.
Whichever approach you take, Donaldson offers one last piece of advice to remember – empower your clients.
“I’m just the guide. I leave them in the driver’s seat as much as possible,” she said.
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at cassie.miller@Adnewsfeedback.com. Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.