As summer comes to a close and we prepare to face the faster-paced fall season, advisors should consider taking time for a little self-reflection on their business. Are you serving your clients in a way that best benefits them? Do you understand what motivates them, and what emotional factors might affect their decision making?
In prior posts, we’ve talked about the rule of –ates, which helps advisors find out about clients’ backgrounds and social habits with regards to four key areas: educate, donate, recreate, and congregate. Learning about these details might not only help advisors inform their clients’ financial decisions better, but could also make the clients feel understood and appreciated. It has been said that emotion puts money into motion, so finding out what motivates individual clients is essential in today's market place.
So, how well do you know your clients? Try this simple exercise: Take out a piece of paper and list your top 10 clients down the left-hand side. Across the top, make room for four headings: educate, donate, recreate, and congregate. See how many of these spaces and for how many of your clients you can fill in off the top of your head. Many advisors probably can’t fill in all of the blanks, which means that there is room to improve. As you are working with those clients on the phone, at a seminar, or over dinner or coffee, start asking the questions that will help you fill out your chart. In doing so, you are creating a helpful snapshot of what drives, and what is important to, those clients.
Another valuable exercise is to apply the rule of –ates to yourself, so that you can better understand your own motivations. Take that same piece of paper and flip it over. List the four -ates, and fill in each category for yourself. The reason for this exercise is simple: being more aware of your own priorities and behaviors may allow you to better relate to, empathize with, and guide your clients.
In the rapidly changing environment we’re in, advisors’ attention may be focused on new DOL rules, market changes, and fund performance, but the truth is that those factors are only half of the equation. It is just as important to also spend time fostering stronger, trusting relationships with clients. It’s also important to remember that relationships with clients are a two-way street, and while the client-advisor dynamic may revolve around the investor and their needs, the client also needs to feel comfortable with the advisor. Just as advisors should dedicate time getting to know their clients better, they should also spend time offering up their own answers to the –ates. By sharing more personal details with one another, the client may come to feel as if their advisor cares, is relatable, and understands their situation.
Fund performance is always going to be important, but in this day and age, investors are really looking for someone who listens, understands, and can help. Use these rule of –ates exercises to show clients that you are that advisor.