For years, the experts in sales strategy have recommended, taught and evaluated financial advisors and agents on their ability to develop long-term relationships with clients. For many, building a long-term relationship is seen as the most important goal for an advisor to do with current and new clients. In fact, in our 2009 MDRT study among advisors who are members of that organization, some 96 percent say “building a long-term relationship” was what they felt their clients wanted.

That was then
This is now. In our new Million Dollar Round Table Generational Financial Confidence Study among financial services consumers, boomers tell us today they are less interested in a long-term relationship with an advisor than in simply getting straightforward advice. Less than two out of three boomers say a long-term relationship is important to them. On the other hand, almost 90 percent say getting “straightforward advice” would motivate them to take action on developing a financial or retirement plan.

It’s no surprise, given how overall trust in institutions has declined in recent years. Thanks to events such as Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, the Catholic Church sex scandal, Enron, AIG and the bailouts, the public’s trust in large institutions is depleted. The sense that someone in the financial services sector really wants or needs a long-term relationship no longer feels genuine to many boomers.

We think advisors should focus on delivering honest, straightforward advice focused on the here and now. The need to perform now with product recommendations and investing strategies, which grow and protect a client’s money, is much more important than forming a long-term relationship. That doesn’t mean you don’t invest time and money to get to know the client. It means the goal of knowing the client isn’t so you have them for the long term but so you can help them now.

In addition, when you do offer advice and guidance, be specific. That means create sample plans based on the individual client, rather than simply sharing generic examples. Boomers tend to think about products from a “what’s in this for me?” vantage point. They respond to specific conversations about themselves and their situation, not general conversations about others. You will enjoy stronger–and longer–relationships with boomer clients if you treat them as if they are indeed unique and their situation special.

In the end, clients want advisors to be trustworthy and to perform. If you do that every day, every quarter and every year, before you know it, you will have had the client for many, many years.