The ClientWise Blog

How to Serve Your Clients Better? (Ask Them!)

Posted by Chris Holman on Apr 7, 2010 11:08:00 AM


There’s a thought-provoking article in the April issue of On Wall Street.

Entitled, “Life Style Referrals: Savvy financial firms understand that acquiring new clients is more than just getting one customer to give them a recommendation”…the gist of the article is the changed dynamic between advisor and client. In the author's view (Lauren Barack), the “ubiquity of information” means that investors no longer need advisors in the way they once did.

She's right, of course...and she cites two examples that bolster her premise. Here they are from the article verbatim:

Example #1: It seemed as if John Thiel just could not land this one client. An officer of a firm about to go public, the potential client wouldn't even consider meetings with Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Groups, despite numerous overtures. Then Thiel and his team discovered the prospect had concerns about how his new wealth would affect his two adult daughters. Solution? The team invited the two women-without Dad-to a financial boot camp that the firm began offering several years before. "They were so ecstatic, and he was so impressed by how their attitudes had changed, that he created a meaningful relationship with us," says Thiel.

And…

Example #2: Doug Lockwood's firm Harbor Lights Financial Group in Manasquan, N.J. ran a survey among his clients a few years back. But instead of asking them about the things they liked about their advisors, he asked about favorite sports teams, wines, and what stressed them the most. Their top answer to what created anxiety in their lives? Buying a car.
So Lockwood and his team hit every car dealer in Monmouth, N.J., found the ones that would treat their clients with white gloves and began doing the negotiating for them. And restaurants with impossible-to-book tables? No problem for Lockwood's clients. He called them as well. And after 12 months, the firm saw a 100% growth in assets under management, including one investor who had just inherited a $7.8 million estate from his mother. That client came in after the firm helped lease a car for a close friend, Lockwood says.

In the first place, kudos to these twofinancial advisors for their creativity in finding solutions that matched the needs of their clients.

Here's the other thing. How did these two advisors learn about the concerns of their prospective clients?

They asked them.

It's not unusual how this works. It's called 'The Answering Reflex'. It's followed most of us through our entire life. When asked a question, we answer. To do otherwise is rude and ill-mannered.

For financial advisors, the key is having the understanding, insight, and curiosity...to ask that one good question that uncovers something telling, interesting, or revealing about a person.

When was the last time you asked a coaching question of someone whose response was..."Gee, that's a good question. No one has ever asked me that before."?

Ask and you shall receive.

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Topics: Communication