Mark Pruitt knows about relationships. After spending 18 years as a minister, he made the switch to financial services with the desire to counsel people in much the same way he always had. This means keeping that first meeting as client-centric as possible.
“My approach to planning is to first allow the client to ask me questions in the very first meeting,” he says. “The meeting is for them and they are there for a reason. I need to know what those reasons are, and to find that out I must listen first in order to deal with their hot buttons and concerns. You don’t fix a lifetime of issues in a single meeting or with a single product. We build the overall plan with future meetings. It’s like building a house, and you don’t do that in a meeting or two.”
Fourteen years after entering the industry, Pruitt’s very loyal client base numbers about 800. Read on for his methods to meeting clients’ needs in a truly meaningful way.
1. Anticipate your clients’ needs.
From the start, Pruitt wasn’t looking to simply provide financial advice; he wanted to offer a wide range of resources to his clients. How wide ranging? Well, Pruitt’s clients can get tax consultations, estate planning expertise, nursing home reviews and even help repairing their credit rating. And what happens if a client’s computer malfunctions? “I have a guy that can go to our clients all over the nation and repair their computer,” he says.
Seniors, in particular, do not have those kinds of resources in one place, Pruitt says. “Everybody’s compartmentalized, an attorney’s just an attorney, CPAs just do CPA work, brokers just do broker work, insurance agents just do insurance work,” he says. “We’ve taken a lot of those things and put them in one service where we can refer people out. These are people that I refer, so we don’t get paid on most of these services. They’re just people that we’ve used personally with our own families.”
2. Be transparent.
Those referrals may not bring in extra revenue, but they do build trust between his firm and his clients. Trust is an important cornerstone of his practice given the “major breaches of trust” between the public and financial institutions like banks in recent years, Pruitt says.