In recent polls on public perceptions of trust, life insurance agents barely scored higher than advertising executives and used car salesmen as the least trusted professional group. Yes, the stereotype of the slick insurance salesman is alive and well in America today.
Gaining trust among consumers is the single biggest challenge for any professional within the financial services industry, especially if you are an independent agent with no larger company reputation to bolster your credibility.
Competition is becoming more and more complicated, and the lines between brokers, life insurance agents, and CPAs are being blurred as products and services cross over disciplines. Each group has special considerations to address, but one common thread for all financial professionals is that hardly anyone trusts you to give objective, credible advice that is in the best interest of your clients.
What, then, could be a greater competitive advantage than to establish yourself as a trustworthy financial professional?
Many people will say that financial planners cant be trusted, but that their own advisor can. That means there is hope for financial professionals to make a positive connection with their clients. In fact, that is exactly what clients are seeking in this uncertain time that has seen companies like Enron and WorldCom implode overnight, 401(k) plans cut in half by a downward spiraling stock market, and growing strains of inflated costs for everything from college tuition to doctor visits.
What follows are a few tactics you can employ to build trust with prospects and current clients:
Talk About the Money. Address compensation up front. Explain exactly how you earn your money and why that is not a conflict of interest. If you work on commissions, explain the process. Too many consumers automatically jump to the conclusion that if you work on commissions, youll stick them with the most expensive product. If you dont educate them otherwise, they will have no reason to think differently.
Highlight your Involvement. Are you a member of any industry groups that have codes of ethics to abide by? Can you prove that you are not only a member but also deeply involved? Are there other community or charity activities in which you participate? If you can provide evidence of being a good citizen and person, clients will assume such character is also evident in your professional dealings.