Trust is still an issue in the financial services industry, and financial professional who walk into a meeting with brochures for products they’re already planning to recommend do not give investors confidence that the recomendations are tailored to their needs, Zahira Lehri, vice president of SunTrust Investment Services, said.
Lehri was part of a panel of advisors at the IRI Vision annual conference Monday that offered tips for managing the challenges with helping clients prepare for retirement.
Lehri said her success is based on finding common ground with clients and “building that trust to [get clients] to say, ‘She’s not here to sell me something; she’s here to know me.’”
Julie Casserly, president of JMC Wealth Management, said she’s working on building clients’ trust in her entire team. She assigns two advisors to each client.
“It’s not just quality of life” at stake for Casserly and her team, but a way to “build that trust as a culture inside our firm.”
Education is the beginning of trust, Greg Naples, senior vice president of the Naples Wealth Management Group, said. He walks clients through estate planning, living wills, life insurance, disability insurance, umbrella policies and personal liability, long-term care planning, Medigap and Medicare, Monte Carlo, Roth and traditional IRAs and 401(k)s to make sure clients understand and are comfortable with these topics.
“We haven’t even talked about investments yet,” he said, but that extended process gives Naples a chance to build rapport with clients “because there a lot of ‘aha’ moments” during that meeting.
To get clients to think about financial planning holistically, Casserly asks them to imagine where they see themselves in the future. She noted that when she asks clients where they see themselves in 20 years, “nobody ever talks about the money first. It’s always about their personal life, their family life; their career. I find out where all those pain points are” and help them plan to meet them.
When clients want to avoid talking about certain issues like long-term care planning, which IRI found is a product two-thirds of retirees don’t think they’ll ever need, Lehri recommended backing into the subject by talking about how a potential outcome might affect their quality of life. She described a client who had been caring for her father-in-law with Alzheimer’s for many years and struggled to meet his needs, but wasn’t interested in insurance planning.
When Lehri asked the client if she would also be her husband’s caregiver if he needed that kind of care, the client was more receptive to planning for long-term care needs.
When communicating with clients, Casserly pointed out that “people do not identify with percentages. They identify with dollars.” Expressing fees as a dollar amount based on clients’ accounts is a more effective way of justifying cost when it’s tied to their peace of mind.
“Every client finds their trigger point” that they’re willing to pay for peace of mind, “and everyone is different.”