It is no secret that among many consumers, there has been a huge loss of confidence in the markets as well as in financial institutions and experts. With that in mind, I’ve been in touch with industry and sales experts of late, picking their brains to find out what advisors can do to gain (and keep) clients’ and prospects’ trust.

Ken Himmler of Lakewood Ranch, Fla.-based Integrated Asset Management, suggests advisors provide total transparency to clients. He says to present them with the following questions so they can be better educated on financial issues and know if you’re the right person to handle their assets:

Does the advisor have a clean record? “Regulatory bodies such as FINRA and the SEC provide online resources for investors to research if any prior complaints have been filed against a financial professional. Third- party resources, such as the National Ethics Bureau, allow for consumers to gather the comprehensive background information of a financial professional,” Himmler says.

Where is the advisor recommending you put your money? “Be involved in your advisor’s investment strategy and don’t be afraid to check their work and ask questions. If they recommend a specific insurance company, stock or other securities product, check those recommendations before agreeing,” adds Himmler. “Ask questions to get a better understanding of where the money is going and find out additional background

information on the responsible parties: What is the rating of the insurance company? What is the history of the securities product and is it financially sound? Is the carrier large enough to sustain a volatile economy, or do you have doubts?”

Dan Norman, professional speaker and keynote at the 2009 Senior Market Advisor Expo this summer, adds that advisors must really focus on “tuning in” to their clients to further gain their trust and find out if their needs are being met. “It is important to listen to gain an understanding, rather than listening and thinking about what you are going to say next,” Norman adds.

In the end, it’s vital that you give clients and prospects the financial education, tools and full attention they need so both parties are satisfied with the relationship.