I began writing this blog in 2007 with the purpose of chronicling my life as a newly independent advisor. Since then, I have learned a great deal about clients and myself. In this post, we will discuss how to earn trust with your clients, and how not to. 

Prior to becoming an independent advisor, I worked at a large wirehouse as well as a global bank. During the first few months with the wirehouse, my mentor and I were having a conversation. He said he believed I would “make it” in this business. With a curious look, I asked why he believed this. I will never forget his response. He said, “Because you care.” 

A few days ago, I was on the phone with the wife of a client who had been struggling with financial stress. A few hours after the call, I was speaking with her husband. He thanked me for reducing his wife’s stress. I was a little curious and asked him to explain. In his explanation, he mentioned trust and honesty. More specifically, he said they believe I am an honest person and so they trust me completely. Normally, that would have been the end of the conversation. However, I wanted to know more. I asked what it was that led them to believe I am honest and trustworthy. He said, “We trust you because we know you are concerned about us.” 

How many times have you tried to figure out ways to elicit trust from a prospective client? We know that gaining trust is nothing like flipping a light switch and that it must grow over time. My client’s observation that I cared about them reminded me of my mentor’s comment from 20 years earlier. Then it hit me. Trust is built, not only by meeting and exceeding expectations, but also by showing that you care. One person comes to trust another when they know that the other person truly cares about them. 

This reminds me of something Zig Ziglar said several decades ago. Zig said that he liked his dentist because he knew his dentist would never perform any unnecessary work on him. Zig knew his dentist understood that Zig could refer more people to him, and that he would make more money that way than he would by doing unnecessary dental work.

To translate, some advisors try to sell as much product as possible, to every client. I view things very differently. I believe if I do my very best for my clients, they will refer more people to me and I will make more money that way than by pushing product. 

I believe there is a subtle yet definite shift occurring among clients of financial advisors. Clients are becoming more perceptive and able to see through the facade of financial salespeople. This should bode well for all of the honest, ethical and competent advisors.

Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great week!