How many of your clients refer to you as their “advisor for life?” Probably not as many as you would like. Acting as a financial advisor to affluent families, especially those in the baby boom generation, is more complex now than it ever has been before. It’s now necessary to offer guidance that is insightful, thorough and valuable — making the financial advisor a trusted and integral part of the family’s future planning.
Industry insider Stephen Gresham, executive vice president of Phoenix Investment Partners, offers his insight from years of experience in his new book, Advisor for Life. The book reveals the nuts and bolts of a practice aimed toward affluent families, noting the advisor should “protect, motivate, and educate clients over the course of the relationship.”
The primary test of the Advisor for Life, says Gresham, is the ability to empathize. “Can you be truly concerned for your clients as they confront life’s real challenges?” He quotes a colleague, Don Berryman, who summed up the four most important principles to being a good financial advisor:
1. Be available — and willing to give your time, your most valuable source. He notes that some 35 percent of millionaires leave their advisors because they were not proactive enough and that 20 percent of clients working with a primary advisor are actively looking for a new one or thinking about doing so.
2. Be concerned. What could happen that would derail a household’s ability to achieve its goals; and when are risks or fears most likely to occur.
3. Be informed. Affluent clients seek advisors who know how to take care of people like themselves. FAs should have case studies depicting issues already confronted and resolved.
4. Have an opinion. No affluent client will tolerate an advisor who asks what the client wants to do. “Top advisors have an opinion because they are informed, whether through experience or training or both,” writes Gresham.