There are a lot of BS opinions on this topic, so I wanted to establish a non-crap response to the question. Here’s what the best financial advisors do, that others don’t.
Before you read the rest of this blog, take a minute to copy and paste this CPA question list (no email required). It’ll help you make inroads with centers-of-influence.
Now let’s get onto the blog! If you want to be a top financial advisor, here’s some commonalities that the best financial advisors have.
#1 They do what they say they were going to
The best financial advisors actually follow through on their sales pitches. Talk is so cheap in this profession, and the training programs do a great job teaching you what to say to get the highest commission.
It is the normal way of things for a financial advisor to hype up their service and make it seem like they’ll be your personal butler. Once you sign up and a little time passes, and turns out you’re paying $12k a year for nothing more than a glorified index allocator and some steak dinners.
Whether or not the client “gets it in writing” a financial advisor should deliver upon what they promised in the sales process. The problem boils down to not being on the same page in terms of what is actually going to be done. A lot of times the way we are trained to communicate in sales, there’s a lack of clarity as to what you’ll actually be delivering.
Be the opposite; be the beacon of clarity and detail.
For example, every advisor says they’re going to create some type of financial plan. What does that entail? Do you mean you’re going to put together a plan for this year, or is it for the next 5 years? Does that include a budget? A cash flow analysis? Are you going to take into account the tax implications of anything you do? Or am I going to have to ask my accountant? Are you going to help me get my financial statements over to my accountant, or do I have to do that?
This is where communicating in the vague and the broad hurt an advisor’s credibility. Anything you say you’re going to do, you should write down and you should list out specific items, don’t just assume people know what you mean. If you really want to make sure your manage someone’s expectations correctly, you have to overcommunicate in terms of making things clear in specific before the relationship begins. That is how you build more trust anyways.
#2 They’re always improving
A good financial advisor is there when you need him or her.
What the best financial advisors do – they do all that, but the dramatic “fly in to save the day” scenario isn’t where their biggest value is found.
It’s the mundane, non-glamourous stuff, when the spotlight is off. They’re always looking to improve things when nobody is looking. They are the ones who look to make things better when there is ostensibly no reason to. Some of the advisors I work with seem like they are just not in control, and always responding. That’s productive for your growth as an advisor? That’s how you make progress?
In an industry where there’s a lot of hubris and cockiness, remember the real value isn’t in the stuff you can virtue signal about. It’s the silent stuff, the subtle stuff, the stuff you don’t even notice half the time. The difference is made when you are humble enough to look at a relationship not as an account at Pershing and an annual fee, but a chance every day to make someone’s life better, whether or not the client even realizes you are doing it.
Start thinking about it.
- How can you improve technology?
- Could you have communicate better on certain aspects of the service?
- What are the weak spots within the relationship?
- Am I really delivering what the client needs/expects me to?
People can tell who thinks about them all the time and who doesn’t think about them alot. People can tell who thinks things through and who doesn’t. Can’t you tell?
I deal with some advisors who seem to be always in reaction mode. They’re always running, it seems. Guess what – those advisors are lousy marketers and they’re lousy bosses and they’re probably lousy financial advisors, too.
Either you handle your affairs one way or you handle it another. Nobody has a perfect credit score and a bank account constantly in overdrafts, okay?
#3 They let the client talk
Yes. It seems simple.
I communicate with a lot of advisors on a daily basis. With some of you it’s like you’re in utopia hearing yourselves talk. I get it, the anxiety of wanting to please people and the pressure to seem like you’re the most intelligent and capable, it’s real and it can get to you. And yeah I know, you’re passionate and excited about your work.
Come on, this is a luxury service not McDonalds. You’ve got to let the prospect talk instead of suffocating them because that’s what it feels like when the prospect has to grapple with you to be heard.
It has to be about
THEM NOT YOU
THEM not you
ThEM nOt YoU
them not you
Did I make my point?
If you want them to fall in love with you, you have to be willing to fall out of love with your own voice. That’s what the best financial advisors do.
Get a list of great questions to ask a prospect that will uncover how they really think and feel, not just how much money they make and what their portfolio looks like. Avoid these schlocky prospecting questions.
And whenever you do open your mouth, use my Two Sentence Rule to get your point across – and then hush up and let the client steal the show!
Sara’s upshot on what the best financial advisors do
This blog is based upon discussion posts I had on LinkedIn and Twitter about what the best financial advisors do that others do not. To reference the original responses, check out the links. I learn soooooo much from social media by having these types of conversations. If you’re not following me on LinkedIn, please do so as I’d love to hear your opinions.
I’d sum it up by saying that being one of the best financial advisors isn’t really about how you charge, what types of investments you recommend, or having the best financial planning software. Those things are important, but at some level everyone is doing those things right. What very few people do right has to do with managing other people’s emotions – and because so few do this well, that is what separates a top financial advisor from the next rung down.
Working with Sara G
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The specific people who participated in the LinkedIn and Twitter discussions are named below. As always, I’m very thankful for your insightful comments.