Over the years, 20+ now, I've studied a lot, taught a lot, and written a lot about building high-trust client relationships. Lately, I've found myself saying to our core group of committed advisors who implement the Values-Based Financial Planning turn-key business model that, "trust is not the objective, trust is a by-product of the other things that you do, like your behaviour, your communication, and the quality of your work."
Consider this point of view instead: “I am going to show up relaxed, be authentic, behave with an extremely high level of professionalism, skillfully execute my process for creating a great client interview experience or progress meeting experience, ask great questions, listen with empathy, be well-organized, be respectful of their time by not bragging about myself or my company or boring them with over-explanations of financial concepts and ideas, and be selective about only letting the truly right-fit people join my community of Ideal Clients. And if, in the process of behaving this way, they trust me and hire me, fine. If not, that's okay too.”
Some advisors try to force things to happen with everyone they meet by using sales, influence, or persuasion tactics to "close the deal." This is akin to a woman desperately seeking a husband because her "biological clock is ticking" instead of looking for the right partner with similar goals and values who is best suited for the two them to create a life together of happiness and fulfillment.
Think of each client relationship more like a professional marriage. The objectives are for them to have the best possible experience, whether they become a client or not, and for only the "right-fits" to
Here are a few time-tested ideas for behaving in ways that create the by-product of trust and a few thoughts about not-to-do behaviours that erode trust. Salespeople tend to offer alternatives and let the prospect or client choose. Trusted Advisors gather all the information they need, consult with other experts where appropriate, and give the best advice for the client… with conviction. There may be more than one way to achieve a goal, but there is only one best way. Find the best way and give advice with conviction.
The primary determinant of a person achieving their goals is their own behaviour. Your job is much more about managing your clients’ choices and actions than it is about managing their money. The bottom line is that there is no guarantee of anything. The best you can do is to help people get their entire financial house in order, make the best choices possible at the time, and be in the strongest position possible to adapt to whatever non-controllable events occur. The less you play the predict-the-future game the more credible you are.
Put the client first. Duh. I know. It sounds almost silly and certainly cliché. And yet there is a lot of discussion and controversy by the regulators and industry leaders about the fiduciary standard. Am I the only one who finds it absurd that legislation is necessary for our industry to step up and adopt a fiduciary standard? Isn't that simply always, in all situations, and under all circumstances putting your client's needs ahead of your own? Isn't that what you already do? Do you really need a law about that? Apparently the industry does. The good news is that your competition needs somebody else to define integrity for them not you.
There are several financial professionals who are very strong about their behaviours. Moreover, they are very good at what they do and they genuinely care about helping people to get their financial house in order, achieve their goals, and fulfill their values. By behaving at this very high level of professionalism trust is the by-product of that behavior.
(Reprinted with permission from the author)