For years I have been a watcher of the facial expressions and the body language of Financial Advisors and their prospective clients who are together for their first-time visit. In fact, I was a Sales Trainer for 15 years! There always appears to be a series of ‘tug-of-wars’ at play in these first-time encounters. The potential client is assessing the advisor on multiple criteria, from competence to likability. The advisor is assessing the prospective client as well, from likability to sophistication in financial matters.
The truth of the matter, from the point of view of the prospective client is, “THEY DON’T CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, UNTIL THEY KNOW WHO MUCH YOU CARE (about them and their situation/problems!). I have seen numerous advisors go almost immediately into a jargon-based summary of their brilliance and their acumen as Investment Managers. The Jargon is specifically used to impress the other person, AND, to show who in the room is the PROFESSIONAL and who needs to be listened to. This immediately relegates the other person to the back seat of this relationship, and it is assumed that they will stay that way forever! There is no caring here, just a professional advisor and the client who needs his expertise.
On the other hand, the reverse is true when the relationship’s whole focus is on solving the financial issues that brought the people to the advisor in the first place. New clients, in my mind, seek me out because they have serious financial problems that they want to solve. Generally, the motivation, spoken, or unspoken, is FEAR AND ANGST! Their financial house has some serious weaknesses that they need to get fixed. I would suggest that NO jargon be used, empathy be demonstrated clearly, and that listening intently is the main tool used throughout the interview! It is also true that well placed “war stories” of other folks in this predicament make a tremendous impression!
The bottom line is that people come to us because there is something wrong in their financial life. They, therefore, need to be treated with compassion and caring. We need to be the caring MD with a great bed-side manner, NOT the 5:00 O’clock expert on the stock market’s gyrations! THEY DON’T CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THE KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE!