The first impression is always critical. It can help you win or lose a prospective client. Apart from your attire, grooming and attitude, it is the conversation you strike that creates a lasting impact.
As a financial advisor, it is important to engage with people in conversations that will make them want to become your clients and refer you to friends and family. One way to make the first conversation effective is to do your homework on the person you are going to meet—you can do a Google search and study their social media content.
When face to face, you need talking points to make the conversation lively. Here are a few pointers that can help you create a lasting favourable impression.
Ask questions, listen more, speak less
Asking questions is the first step to break the ice with new clients. It is equally important, though, to ask the right questions and at the right time. Also remember to listen with empathy, know what’s most meaningful, important and significant to them.
Ask questions like: What does money mean to you? How do you spend your money? What are your financial goals? Navigate the conversation towards their investment history. Make sure you learn not only about assets, but also the earning capacity and liabilities of the client.
Lovaii Navlakhi, of International Money Matters, thinks advisors should prepare a list of questions for various stages of dealing with a client; these include prospecting, gathering client data, preparing a plan and servicing. “Ask your clients what they are exactly looking for and what they expect from you. Ask questions and probe as much you can. Right from the risk tolerance to quantitative data, make sure you know everything about the client,” Lovaii says.
Tell them client stories
Clients want to know how you can make their life better. You can share case studies that are relevant, and build trust.
Lovaii Navlakhi adds that to make your client warm up towards you, tell them about your existing clients, who have gone through similar circumstances or financial health. It will showcase how dependable you are and give clients an opportunity to assess you positively.
Set their expectations right
Advisors should set the expectations right from the beginning. The best way to do that is to let the client know the performances of the funds across market cycles. Make them understand what kind of downside returns they can expect if the market declines.
Vinod Jain of Jain Investments believes that the advisor should talk about market volatility during the first conversation. You can create a plan on what should be done during tough times. Vinod believes such a conversation helps advisors build trust.
“I speak to my clients about market volatility and prepare them by showing them past returns and historical charts. This gives them an idea that a situation like market crash can be tackled patiently,” he adds.
Tell them about yourself
Give your clients a detailed brief on the scope of your engagement with clients. You should tell them upfront what you can and cannot do. This helps you to gain trust.
Your clients may hesitate to ask you certain questions, but you make sure to answer all frequently asked questions. For instance:
- How often do you communicate with me?
- What happens to my money if you die?
- How did you handle recession?
- What is the rationale for your advice?
- Why should I invest in a regular plan if I can go direct?
- What licences, certifications and/or credentials do you have?
A financial advisor should keep in mind that the advisor-client relationship is like a marriage. You have to be transparent with your partner to build a long-term relationship.
Shifali Satsangee, of Funds Ve’daa, believes that IFAs should be transparent with their clients from the very first meeting. “Talk openly to them about conflict of interest. Be clear if there is any compensation arrangement involved, like advisory fees or commission. This will help a client build trust in you and the process,” Shifali says.