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The Life Experience I want to Create

But my Financial Advisor doesnt ask the right questions!

Does your Financial Advisor asking the right questions?Sadly, generally speaking, not all financial advisors are fully committed to exploring your hopes and dreams and then matching your financial plans to deliver those expected life experiences. Its not their fault, they are often young and inexperienced in the ways of life or have not embraced their own life journey yet, and they are obligated to sell you products determined by the company they are employed by.

As a client what can you do to change the way your financial advisor works with you in order to meet your unique needs? What can you do as a client to move the relationship to a level that puts you in the driving seat and educates/helps your advisor to spend more time investing into you, your financial behavior, your plans and your dreams?

At the outset its important to understand that your financial advisor may be completely resistant to the thought of understanding your behavioral approach to your finances (other than your ability to manage risk). But equally important is to know that the financial industry is changing ? more and more attention is being paid to how to increase business and retain clients through changing the behavior of the industries advisors.

So here are some keys to changing the client/advisor relationship:

  1. Research what the financial advisory company is saying about itself. Look at websites, marketing material; listen to executives recorded messages: look for the types of phrases listed below and ask the question ? what will you do to deliver this statement in terms of the financial advice you propose to give to me?
    - tailored client advisory service
    -the best possible expert advice for your situation
    -exceed their clients’ expectations (do they know/understand your expectations?)
    -advisers will help identify exactly what you require to meet your needs and achieve your goals (how?)Are you achieving your financial goals for living a Quality Life?
  2. Understand your own risk attitudes. Be clear about what you really think risk means to you. This self-awareness will help you to navigate the risk conversations more effectively and will ultimately deliver a greater level of success in the relationship.
  3. Encourage the advisor to ask leading questions. Prompt them. For example:
    -Would you like to know about a significant financial experience in my life? (this might refer to a financial loss, a financial gain or seeing something similar happen to a family member)
    -Would you like to know about three noteworthy plans I have that have not as yet come to fruition.
    -Can I tell you about proposals my children have for paying for their education?

There is, of course, no guarantee that your advisor will adjust their performance to embrace a more behaviorally based advisory relationship with you, but at this juncture the next question that you should be asking is this: – do I really want to continue to give my business to a financial advisory company who cares more about product sales than the plans I have that I trust will prosper me and give me and my family not only a good life but help us to deliver the hopes and dreams we have?

To learn more about developing financial behavior awareness, please visit the Financial DNA website.


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Frustrated by the Lack of a Systems-Based Discovery Process?

One of the first things that I did when I began a business coaching practice in 1998, was to enroll in Michael Gerbers Certified E-Myth Consulting program. You probably know Michael Gerber as author of the E-Myth Revisited.

The E-Myth is largely based on the story of McDonalds, one of the worlds most successful and systems-based organizations. Gerber recommends that every frustration that you experience in your business is due to the lack of a highly effective solution.

If you are a professional services firm, you are in the relationship management business. To manage relationships you need relationship management systems. The first step in relationship management is discovery. Ask the right questions of the right people and you will get the right answer.

What is your system for doing discovery? Many professionals shoot straight from the hip when doing discovery. They have three or four really good questions that they ask and then go with the flow from there. What is important about money to you? Describe the most successful period that you have experienced in your business?

To be truly successful in managing relationships and to have clients who are engaged in their own planning, you should spend the majority of your time that you interact with your clients in discovery. That means you will need hundreds of great questions to ask.

To be effective, some of these questions need to be left brain focused (logical, analytical and objective) and some right brain focused (emotional, intuitive and subjective). Getting this combination correct will lead to highly engaged clients and getting this wrong will lead to highly disengaged clients. Engaged clients are more satisfied and more likely to refer their friends and colleagues.

Creating your own discovery systems is difficult and expensive. Financial advisors use financial planning as a way to do discovery but unfortunately many financial planning programs are left brain focused and do not engage your clients. Have you ever seen a client tune you out during a financial planning session?

The best way to deliver systems-based discovery is to acquire a system. We have a broad range of personal and business discovery systems that you can acquire and be trained to deliver.

If we can help, please contact us.

Behavioral Profiles Leverage Your Intuition

In the financial services industry there are a lot of supporters for the use of behavioral profiles as part of the client discovery process and there are some detractors from using them. Like in any situation where there are detractors most have not yet had a positive experience or seen the full benefits or simply have been listening to the wrong information. This is human nature.

Overall, I do believe that you can never have enough information about yourself, your clients and also your team. As Benjamin Disraeli said: “The most successful people are those who have the most information”. Of course you also need to have the best and most accurate information.

In my past few blogs I have made a very strong case for how by discovering the behavior of your clients you can help them achieve better investment returns and overall make better decisions. So accepting there are very strong benefits for discovering the behavior of your clients, the question becomes how do you do it? This is where there is a great divide. Although, in my view an unnecessary division of thought and approach. At the center of great client discovery is asking the right questions, or what I call “powerful questions”. I believe this is more effectively done when you use behavioral profiles and your intuition, not one or the other.

For some, client discovery is only done by asking questions and gauging the reaction of the clients to the questions in terms of how they respond. To a large degree, in this situation the advisor is relying on their intuition to firstly ask the right questions and then secondly to assess the response. There is no doubt a person’s intuition can be very strong particularly with a lot of experience and high degrees of self understanding and overall good people skills or what we call emotional intelligence. However, no human being can be perfect and we all have “blind spots” or things we do not see. A person’s blind spots will also be carried across into how they see others. Your ability to understand another person can be significantly impacted by how you are on that day let alone how the client is on that day. So, no matter how good your intuition normally is it is not always going to be accurate. Nevertheless, do not discard your intuition. That “gut feeling” or pulse of energy can be telling you a lot even if you have not yet analyzed all of what it means. A behavioral profile will help you with that analysis.

I know that I am a highly intuitive person and naturally learn a lot about people from conversations and asking questions. This is particularly true now that I have learned to get out of my own way and also because much better listening and empathy skills have been learned. Even then I still do not see everything. I am able to go much further and make the person I am mentoring or conversing with feel far more understood when I use profiles.

The point is that the “human element” is variable and we cannot by ourselves see everything at all times. So, what can we do to make our intuitive radar stronger? This is where well constructed and highly validated behavioral profiling systems that objectively measure human behavior can be used to leverage your intuition. As is illustrated by the graphic, there is a great amount of “below the surface” information about a person you need to find out about very quickly to help them make the right decisions. Further, the person also needs to know it for themselves so the have personal clarity. Often the 10% we see on the surface is the “party manners” and not the real person.

 

The specific benefits of using behavioral profiles in the discovery process to build a financial life plan include:

  1. Enhanced objectivity, consistency and measurement
  2. No assumptions are made about the client
  3. The provision of a natural starting point for safe discussions with clients on their unique terms
  4. Separation of your and the clients emotions ? avoid advisor bias
  5. Acceleration of trust because the same discovery questions are asked of each person within a couple, family, team
  6. Clients are better equipped to better articulate their thoughts when emotional
  7. The ability to more quickly gain greater clarity of issues which you intuitively identify
  8. Specific identification of strengths, struggles, aptitudes which provides a human capital development framework for wealth mentoring and coaching
  9. The ability to better manage client expectations based on greater clarity of needs and goals
  10. Serve the clients on their unique terms: “one client – one plan”
  11. Meet the know your client rules because through better documentation and discussion of client behavior
  12. Increases the transferability of the client relationship because the client behavior is data based

In using a behavioral profile the key is to firstly understand the purpose of the instrument and what it was designed to uncover. Then secondly, understand how to properly use it in client facilitation to get the maximum benefit for you and the client. The great users of a behavioral profile understand it is a tool which gets below the surface but it is not a substitute for discussions. Further, one has to be realistic that even the most reliable and accurate profile will not tell you 100% of who a person is. However, they can tell you a lot. As already said the profile is supposed to leverage your insights and ultimately improve the client experience. The key is your “bedside manner” in using the profile.