Five Things Your Client is Thinking…But Won’t Let You Know
Get a glimpse into the mind of your client through this article. Read about five concerns that your clients have on their mind, but are hesitant to tell you. With this information, you can better address these five concerns successfully with your clients, and continue to build a stronger professional relationship.
Five Things Your Client is Thinking... But Won't Let You Know By Bryce Sanders
As an advisor, your practice rests on a foundation of long-term relationships with your clients. You understand them and provide great service—or so you think. But they may be thinking otherwise. Here are five concerns they might have but are not telling you, and how to address them.
When you retire, I’m moving my account. Established agents and advisors develop succession plans—your clients may have succession plans too.
Why: Although the firm’s name is on the door and your clients love your assistant, their primary relationship is with you. They are loyal even though technology has made buying financial products online cheap and easy. They have already considered their next steps when you are no longer in the picture and may have even chosen your replacement.
Action: Position your team. Include team members in the periodic portfolio review meetings and position them as subject matter experts. Take one along when you visit clients at home and discuss your future plans. You might not “retire” but will be spending more time with your family and going to the office only two or three times a week.
Client conversation: “You are looking forward to your retirement from the police department. You may be assuming I will be approaching retirement age too, but the financialservices business works differently. I’m planning on being active in my practice for a long time.”
You don’t give my spouse the respect she deserves. Most relationships have a designated decision-maker. You call him on the phone, get to the point and get off. This can have disastrous consequences.
Why: If the spouse answers the phone, some busy advisors will ask: “Is X there? Well, tell them to call me.” The joint tenant on the accounts is treated as a secretary or a servant, but she can make the decision maker’s life unbearable. If the spouse outlives the decision maker, the assets they have will likely move.
Action: Include the spouse in portfolio-review discussions and spend more than half the meeting time focused on the spouse. Avoid jargon, but don’t talk down. When calling, explain the purpose of your call before asking for the decision maker.
Client conversation: “I’m calling because I was reviewing your portfolio, and realized you have a Treasury bond maturing later this week. We should put this money back to work. Here’s what I have in mind.” It’s likely the spouse will say: “You need to speak with (decision maker) but I appreciate your taking the time to explain it to me.”
We’ve gotten into a rut. Years ago, you did financial planning. You know the client’s major objectives, such as retirement and education savings. In the meantime, another issue has surfaced, such as caring for an aging parent. The client obsesses about it but does not see you as someone who might offer financial advice.
Why: Technology has given agents and advisors great tools to estimate how much money will be needed in retirement and track progress to goals along the way. The relationship that started with the question: “What are your hopes and dreams?” has become one of measuring actual results versus numerical targets.
Action: The elephant in the room is the problem that the client obsesses about but does not talk about. Consider problems by generation. Seniors might be concerned about providing for a surviving spouse who hasn’t handled money properly, while Baby Boomers might be caring for aging parents or concerned about their own long-term care needs down the road. Ask tactful questions.
Client conversation: “When we met, we looked at your major financial objectives and developed and implemented plans. Other things have happened in the meantime. Some Boomers like us are looking after the parents who raised us, while others worked hard all their lives and want to leave a lasting legacy. They are concerned about their children inheriting their assets when they are gone. As advisors, we can help in surprising ways. What’s on your mind?”
I don’t think I’m getting the best prices. Prospects can drive a hard bargain when negotiating the initial pricing of your services. But as relationships develop, they tend to focus less on pricing. Then someone tries to earn their business or a friend meddles.
Why: Years ago, advisors placed orders for clients. Today, clients can buy stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and other financial products online, bypassing the advisor. TV commentators tell the audience that certain products are “bad” or that consumers are overpaying for services, thereby creating doubt in your client’s mind.
Action: Don’t hide pricing. A motivated client can get those details easily. Explain how you and the firm make money and the advice and services you provide. Detail the fees they see and those they don’t. Tactfully let them know that the “no load” products they see advertised have internal fees too, and explain how they can check them out.
Client conversation: “I appreciate your taking my advice and doing business with our firm. You should understand how we make money. Let’s consider the investment we are discussing now. Here are the fees you see and those built into the product. This kind of internal fee structure is standard.”
I’m being prospected by another broker. You and your client have a comfortable relationship. You understand his or her preferred channels of communication and meet periodically for reviews. That’s what they want—or so they say. Meanwhile, that “nice young man” at the country club is buying them drinks and meeting their children.
Why: Your best clients are another advisor’s top prospects. Often, clients
Estate gifting. Talking to clients about their estategifting strategy is another key topic. For 2015, your client can give up to $14,000 (per person) to as many people as they would like without incurring any federal gift tax liability. If your client is married, the couple can give up to $28,000 per recipient.
Beneficiaries. It’s not uncommon for clients to have an incorrect beneficiary, such as a deceased relative or former spouse. Asking them to take a look at their beneficiaries can open the door to looking at their insurance coverage overall to determine if there are opportunities to increase coverage or potentially decrease coverage and reallocate that money to another product such as disability income insurance.
Education funding. Reviewing beneficiaries is also an opportune time to discuss investment vehicles specifically designed for funding a child’s or grandchild’s education. Many of these vehicles provide attractive savings options and don’t have any income restrictions. Babatunde Ogunlana is an investment advisor representative and a financial planner with MetLife Securities, Inc. He is also a member of The American College President’s Circle. Contact him at 954-625-1508 or email@example.com. feel taken for granted and welcome the extra attention they get from competitors. They might even open that small account to get started.
Action: They won’t tell you they are being cultivated. They often assume every advisor does the same thing and are interchangeable, even though they understand the difference between generalists and specialists when it comes to medicine. Your understanding of their unique situation, and your relationship with their spouse and children (heirs) position you as a specialist in the area of their finances. Revisit the depth of your relationship periodically and thank them for their business.
Client conversation: “We’ve been working together for 15 years. This calls for a celebration. Over these years, we have successfully planned for your children’s college education, weathered the financial crisis of 2007-08 and helped your mother, too. You are a very important client to me. If you are unhappy for any reason, I hope you will let me know.”
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions, Inc. in New Hope, Penn. He provides HNW client acquisition training to the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, is available on amazon.com.
This article appeared in Advisor Today.