How to Help Clients Make Good Decisions
Your job is as much about managing relationships as it is about managing money. You need to establish close ties with your clients so you can become a positive influence in their lives over the long term. Unless you can steer your clients into making good decisions you not only risk losing them as clients – but you are doing them a disfavor – because you are allowing them to make potentially disastrous financial decisions. Here are a few things you can do to influence your clients’ decisions positively.
Establish your reliability
If you are to influence clients, they need to see that you are consistent in your behavior and that you’re always there for them. You need to provide them with exemplary service by maintaining a constant channel of communication. Reply promptly to calls, call clients – often – for a catch-up. Be there when you have nothing to sell.
Make your clients feel as though they are your number one priority and that they have nothing to fear when it comes to their investments because you are on their side. Once they see you as 100% dependable, they will naturally decide to act on your advice.
Keep things simple
If clients are confused about what you’re proposing, they will be skeptical that it’s the right path to take. Ease their decision-making process by ensuring you don’t overload them with information.
What we find simple clients find difficult to comprehend so don’t use financial jargon or introduce them to page after page of spreadsheets, market information or pie charts. Their eyes will begin to glaze over, and you will lose your impetus. Instead, make the conversation about them and their goals – keep reminding them that they made the right decision when they decided to invest – and that the sacrifice will be more than worth it.
Give clients a reality check
If you want to influence clients on the nature of long-term investing, get them to see the reality of their situation. If you’re talking to parents of young children, point out that college fees will require a significant amount of funding – the equivalent of a new car every year for four years. Explain that time will go by far faster than they can image. In 180 months, a three-year-old will be in college. Will they have this amount of money put by in just 180 paychecks’ time? If they don’t, what’s the alternative – to take out a loan, borrow from family – or even forgo further education for their children?
Similarly, if you’re talking to a couple of clients in their forties who are wavering with regard to the necessity of investing, explain that inflation could see them requiring three times’ their wages to live on in 20 years’ time. If they are considering giving up on the investment plan, change their minds by reminding them that, without sufficient funding the comfortable retirement they dream about can never become a reality.
By giving clients a close-up view, and bringing the future into closer focus, you can help spark the realization that they need to start and carry on saving money – right now.
Use stories and analogies
Stories and analogies are a great way to help you establish trust and likeability in your clients’ minds. Good, memorable stories can stir emotions and be deeply influential when it comes to motivating people to act.
Prepare clients to make the right decisions in advance of a market dip by helping them understand the nature of volatility. Tell them the ‘litany of disaster’ story – whereby, despite regular setbacks – even catastrophes – the DJIA always regains momentum and comes back even stronger over time.
Make sure you practice your stories, so you get them exactly right and convey the right message.
Show leadership skills
You need to demonstrate strong leadership skills if you want clients to follow you. During their investment journey they will look to you for reassurance that they’re doing the right thing by sticking to the plan. Help clients retain their vision of the future and long-term goals by making them imagine the future in vivid detail. Give them no doubt about where they are going and reassure them that, as their financial advisor, you will get them there safely no matter what. The more uncertain the times, the more your clients need you to state where you stand, so maintain the same unwavering message and remain optimistic.
Just like the family doctor you play an integral part in your clients’ lives. You are there to steer them through bad times and lead them. Your job is to influence them so that they act in their own best interests. If you can demonstrate the above traits and become proficient at telling good stories, your clients will feel confident they should follow your lead.