By ABBY VICK
I recently wrote an article for my clients with the same title about paying down your debt and trying not to be too emotional about it. Then, I reread the title and thought that my fellow women advisors need this article, as well.
I have never met a female advisor who said they weren’t in this business to help people. I have had the pleasure of meeting women in the financial industry who are competitive, smart and ambitious.
I began my CFA studies this week and was reading in the ethics chapter about trustworthiness in different fields and, at no shock to any of you, the financial field was polled at having the lowest trustworthiness. Only 46% of those polled said that they think the financial industry is truthworthy or acting with integrity. I know that’s not how you picture yourself. In the morning, you probably don’t get up, look in the mirror and say, “how can I find a way to con my clients today?”
Instead, I’m sure it’s quite the opposite. We wake up and think, “how can I make a good impression on my clients today? How can I make my clients feel special and appreciated?” But after a day of customer service and making phone calls that might include bad news about the performance in their account, it can be draining and always meeting their high expectations can be overwhelming.
A client, who is moving over their accounts, tries to negotiate you to lower your fees. Another client was in your office agreeing with the financial plan you designed, instead has taken your plan over to a competitor to put it into place there. You find out after working with a client for five years that they have been holding two large accounts at another firm to test your money management against your competitors.
Our clients demand a lot from us in this industry and they are taught to hide information from us because they are unsure how trustworthy an advisor can be. It can be a challenge to come to work every day and continue to care about improving customer service and appreciation, but here are some tips for setting you and your clients up for success:
- Set your client up for success. Explain to them from their first meeting how you take care of your clients. How often should they expect to hear from you? How often should they call? How long will the process take?
- Let them know your expectations of them. “Working with me means creating a lasting partnership. A level of trust should be built between us, so we can work together amicably. For example, from day one, I want to tell you how I will be getting paid from your work with me. On the other side, if I am to create a full financial plan for your family, I need to know about all the assets so I can make the best determinations for your plan.”
- Teach clients to be realistic. If you’re reading marketing about some perfect product (complete liquidity, double digit returns, and no losses), then you’re looking for something that doesn’t exist. Working with an advisor means having an intentional plan for your money, not a get rich quick scheme.
- The client has to buy into the plan. If the client is interested in the plan, they must also understand their role in the plan. This could be paying down debt, contributing to retirement accounts, or simply not touching their investments. But getting your client to not only sign off on the plan, but to follow through on their part of the implementation could make or break their success.
These are a few items I cover in my initial appointment with clients. From the first meeting, I want my clients to be clear on our relationship- my responsibilities and theirs. Then, they know from our first interaction if we are a good fit for each other.
If at any time, they disagree and want to look for someone else with other attributes, that’s fine. At least I knew it at the beginning and didn’t waste hours behind the scenes trying to market to them or sell them on anything. We can have an authentic interaction, full of compassion and understanding and leave the meeting with a clearer understanding.