5 Ways Financial Advisors Can Establish Credibility and Build Trust
“Trust is built on credibility, and credibility comes from acting in others’ interests before your own.” ~Stephen Denny, Author
We’ve made no secret of the fact that a trust deficit exists between the public and the financial services industry. Advisors, new and experienced, must work consciously and deliberately every day to overcome it. The challenge for advisors is they could be the most trustworthy person in the world, but without credibility, there can be no trust.
There could be trust, but it might only be fleeting without proof that it’s genuine. That’s where credibility comes in. The building blocks of trust include honesty, transparency, reliability, consistency, competence, empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability—traits that, when demonstrated by actions, create credibility. An advisor’s credibility is bolstered even more when both parties feel they benefit mutually with a vested interest in each other’s success.
Here are five ways advisors can establish credibility by demonstrating the building blocks of trust.
#1. Demonstrate your expertise
Demonstrating your expertise builds credibility, making clients feel like they can trust your advice. However, the skill is in demonstrating your expertise in a way so your clients can understand you and have confidence in your advice.
One of the more effective ways to demonstrate your expertise while putting your client’s interests first is by delivering high-quality content tailored to their interests and concerns. By sharing your expertise through articles, blog posts, or podcasts, you can showcase your knowledge while positioning yourself as a thought leader, which will confer maximum credibility on you.
Taking it a step further, by acquiring specialized knowledge in a specific market niche or financial field, you can position yourself as a valuable resource by catering to the unique financial challenges of your target market. That creates instant credibility when you are introduced to a member of that market niche.
#2. Be genuinely client-focused
Putting your client’s interests and needs first in all aspects of your advisory services instantly differentiates you while enhancing your credibility as a trusted advisor. That becomes apparent to your clients through customized financial plans, personalized communications, and keeping your client’s goals, ambitions, and priorities at the forefront of every interaction.
Advisors who focus on providing an exceptional client experience—from onboarding to personalized service to ‘just because’ phone calls to state-of-the-art client portals—reinforce their credibility with each client interaction.
Generally, the more time you spend getting to know your clients, the more it shows you care, which is the essence of credibility in a relationship.
#3. Build your online presence
This may seem somewhat superficial, but in this digital world, regardless of your experience level, if you don’t have a robust online presence, your credibility will suffer. Your online presence is comprised of a complete web apparatus that includes a quality website with an integrated social media strategy. That’s where prospects and clients go to learn about you. To the younger generations in particular, if you have a shoddy online presence, you will have an uphill battle trying to build any credibility.
Having a high-quality website and an active presence on social media allows you to reach a wider audience, building credibility by sharing valuable insights and educational content and engaging with your target market.
#4. Develop your professional network
By working to establish yourself in the industry—attending conferences, joining professional associations, and participating in community events—you build your professional reputation, which enhances your credibility. Plus, establishing relationships with accountants, attorneys, and other professionals opens opportunities for cross-referrals and collaborative work, further building your credibility while expanding your reach.
You can compound the positive impact on your reputation and credibility by networking with community leaders and giving back to your community by volunteering or offering to teach financial literacy classes at your church.
#5. Quality communication
We have written on several occasions about how poor communication is one of the top reasons why clients leave. Open, transparent, and responsive communication is the foundation of trust in an advisory relationship. That includes explaining complex financial concepts in simple terms, being honest about risks, and openly discussing fees and how you are compensated.
Advisors who implement a strong communication strategy are perceived as more reliable by clients, which is a crucial building block of trust. And advisors who work on their soft skills, including demonstrating empathy, active listening, and telling stories to build deeper connections and stronger relationships with their clients, are perceived as more authentic, giving them even more credibility.
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