I’m speaking to financial advisers every day, and at the moment a consistent theme is emerging in all of these conversations and that is a feeling of a “new beginning”. Advisers are talking really positively and excitedly about getting back out and meeting clients face-to-face again – just imagine in a few months’ time we might even be doing this without masks on!
It all feels a bit like a new era, and indeed for some it really is, as many lives have undergone huge upheaval in the last 15 months. This brings the need for insightful and valuable conversation with you, and a whole range of new avenues and opportunities to explore for both you and your clients. The question is, are you ready to embrace this new environment, or will you revert back to what you did before the pandemic hit?
The focus of this post is not on your client proposition, but instead it is about you and how you will work and interact with your clients in the months to come. There are a couple of areas to consider.
The chances are that you will be very busy in the months to come. While there’s no harm in clients seeing that you are busy and your expertise is in demand, you don’t want them to feel rushed and that the “next” client you’re going to see is more important. The key here is good preparation for your meetings and careful management of your diary. When a client comes to see you, they should feel at the centre of your universe and that your sole focus is on them and helping them achieve their financial goals.
Your approach to meetings
From the discussions I’ve had, so many of you have been re-evaluating your proposition and tweaking it for the future. You’re taking the good bits from working remotely over the last year or so and are building this in as part of a newly enhanced proposition. You will then deliver this, and clients will enjoy a greatly enhanced advice experience into the future. The key for you now is to engage clients in discussion about how you work and what you offer, and carefully walk them through the improvements you will be bringing to them. I strongly recommend that this deserves to be more than a chat, instead you should lay it out visually for your clients in the form of a presentation, short documents setting out your services or links to relevant sections on your website. Show off your proposition in the best light possible.
Keep your energy levels high
Everyone is emerging from a difficult period. We all want to be surrounded by people who are not gloomily reflecting on the last year, but instead by people who are positive and optimistic about the future. Be one of the “cup half full” people in your clients’ lives. Work hard at ensuring that clients feel better in themselves after meeting you, that you were the bright point in their day. This of course doesn’t mean just nattering on endlessly at meeting though. Of course you need to put as much of your energy into careful and active listening, and gentle but probing questioning of your clients in relation to their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future.
What about the novice clients?
The lives of some people have been turned upside down by the pandemic. They may have suffered bereavement, serious illness, the loss of their job and/or their business and in some cases temporary but significant financial challenges. Many of these people may never have availed of the services of a financial adviser in the past, but now they need a lot of help in getting their financial lives back on track. They know they need help, they think they need it from a financial adviser. But they might be quite unsure whether the right adviser for them is you or someone else.
Think carefully about how you can build trust and rapport with these people. Your first meeting approach will be critical here, as will demonstrating your expertise through client testimonials, case studies and other endorsements of your skills. Your goal is to put these people at ease, help them to recognise that you have the skills and knowledge to help them with their affairs and hopefully start to build a valued relationship that will endure long into the future.
These are great days. The vaccination programme is starting to have a real impact and everyone is much more hopeful about the future. Now is the time to roll out your own A game.