I’m afraid of you.
According to a recent survey (McAdam LLC and Harris Poll 2015) of more than 2000 Americans, 71% said some aspect of meeting with a financial advisor scared them. The most common reasons cited were costs, trust and the inability of an advisor to help them with their financial situation.
However, a majority of CFP professionals feel having the CFP designation increases the trust and confidence levels for clients, according to a survey by the CFP Board of Standards Inc. and Aite Group.
What accounts for the disconnect? The Financial Services industry has traditionally lead with a left-brain approach: research, analytical and factual. But at least 50% of your clients lead with a right-brain approach that is based on feelings and relationships.
With the current market volatility, the fact that you have educated your pre-retirees on withdrawals in a declining stock market means very little when facing hard choices about retiring triggers your clients emotions. They are scared about having to work longer, potentially cutback the “dream lifestyle” or just having to live with the uncertainty of it all.
This fear can be mitigated by one powerful emotion: TRUST
But is trust a “skill” you can sharpen? While I believe each person has a certain inherent trustability, there are ways you can get beneath the surface of a client to get past their fear factor.
1. Let the client choose how to proceed.
They want to feel like a partner, not being controlled. While you have a formal agenda for each meeting, you might begin the session with a simple question: “At the end of today’s meeting, what would be a good outcome for you?”
2. Stay present and open to not knowing exactly what turn the client might take in your meeting.
Be curious as to the “threads” your client may be unraveling. In your enthusiasm to talk about the carefully crafted portfolio you have designed and the safe withdrawal strategies, your client may be wondering, “What impact will all these uncertainties have on my lifestyle?” It would be best to acknowledge that fear and go down that path to demonstrate a deeper level of awareness.
3. Listen for and carefully observe energy or tone shifts.
This type of intuition is not always an advisor’s strong suit. Your client will give you cues: voice level, eye contact, and pauses. But when you listen to the “what” (fixed income in retirement) and are able to move to the “who” (no longer having income from a job, uncertainty of what’s next), you will build trust as you get at the client’s real fears and help them discover their next best action steps.
Focus on the one skill that will have the greatest impact on your relationships with both prospects and clients: TRUST. And, in return, your clients will face these uncertainties with greater confidence.