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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Don’t play the numbers game

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“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” — Gandhi

While a substantial goal of any advisor is to expand his or her client base and attract new business, it is important to remember not to focus exclusively on the transactional act of closing the deal. Instead, we should take pride in understanding our clients’ financial and emotional needs and giving them options to choose from. This steers us away from the urgency of closing a deal and guides us toward helping clients discover solutions they find on their own with our advice.

For example, when working with clients on life insurance sales, it is extremely important to make a responsive connection, as life insurance is an emotional sale. This product is becoming increasingly complicated, and many clients often feel like their advisor has gotten the better end of the transaction if they discover subsequently that other options were not explored. 

Guiding our clients to the products and investment philosophies that they have engaged in is imperative. Advisors should never suggest a specific plan without giving their client valuable information to make the decisions themselves. Helping our clients identify what they want to accomplish is a good place to start. Next, show them the different financial tools and/or investment paths that will help them achieve these goals. 

How do I get there?

Three key skills I like to communicate to other advisors are the ability to ask great questions, listen actively and draw analogies to reinforce the point. Listening to our clients is one of the most important things we can do when working on creating a financial plan with them. We must ascertain what our clients want to accomplish before we can begin suggesting any investment tactics. If they have previously encountered financial complications, the question we must ask ourselves is, “How can my unique skills and knowledge of financial tools help fix these problems?”

One way to get your clients talking about their goals and any financial issues they may have is by improving your ability to illustrate concepts in a way the client can visualize. This not only helps your clients connect with you, but also helps differentiate your practice and knowledge from other financial professionals.

To get your clients talking, ask open-ended questions to gauge their positive and negative emotions. This allows you to paint the bigger picture and see where you fall in their planning process. Connect your clients to the right story, and they will find that the answer to their financial pitfalls is you.

Our goal as advisors is to have our clients leave feeling like they received beneficial advice that led them to make the right financial choices. We never want our clients to leave feeling like we closed the deal with them and that they lost. Creating true value is important. Steer clear of the hot special of the week; instead build a stronger connection. The more your clients trust you, the more beneficial the relationship will be for both of you.

For more from Phil Harriman, see:

No more estate planning excuses

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