I heard an advertisement recently for a financial services firm that went something like this, “Don’t work for your 401(k); let your 401(k) work for you. We can show you how”. What exactly does that mean? This is just one example of the “noise” out there. The dictionary defines noise as, “a loud, surprising, irritating, or unwanted sound.” The plethora of meaningless advertising in the marketplace serves to create confusion in the minds of clients and makes it difficult for them to choose an advisor or firm.

We must possess integrity AND competence. Both are vital. An advisor could be trustworthy but incompetent or extremely competent but unethical. People who engender trust possess both qualities. A prospective client must develop a certain level of trust in us before they will allow us to take the wheel.

For a new engagement to begin, what needs to be determined is this: What do they need? Is it something I can provide and is it something I want to do? If I can help them and they can afford my fee, then the only thing that remains is to ask, “Has trust been established?” If they know we care they are more likely to trust us.

Here’s what I consider to be one of the best ways to begin a new relationship. Whenever I meet with a prospective client for the first time, I never discuss what they own. Period. I only ask questions and listen. We live in a world where the vast majority of people are much more interested in themselves than in others. So if we know this to be true, why are so many of us straining to tell clients how much we know? Showing genuine interest in the other person is exactly what we need to do. This is done by asking questions and is another way we can cut through the noise.

As I proceed in my business, I need to be patient. I need to be selective concerning the clients I work with and not take clients that don’t fit into my business model. As I mentioned in my last blog, I am now working with a business consultant. Together we will develop strategies for getting my story out to the right people.

Many of us have a unique story to tell. We just have to figure out how to communicate it to the right people in a way that differentiates us from all the clatter. We must find a way to cut through the noise. It is crucial to our success.

As always, I look forward to your comments.