Client Relationships: A Professional’s Most Important Asset

4 minute read

The world as we know it has changed, but some things remain constant: with all that has gone on in the last two years, clients are looking for a deeper, lasting relationship with a professional advisor. Today’s client seeks a professional advisor who understands the importance of client relationships and is invested in their goals and dreams, rather than one who is merely looking to collect more assets under management.

Of the names that are bouncing around for 2021, we believe it should be titled “The Year of Client Relationships.” 2021 is the year to focus on your customers by growing the relationships with your existing clients and establishing new, stronger relationships with your prospects. Become known as a relationship-focused team and you will see dramatic changes in your practice this year.

Many investment advisors spend a predominant amount of time trying to deliver solutions to our prospects and clients. We provide answers to the questions raised as well as those that go unasked. We offer products and services that we feel would be of benefit to our clients. Yes, we provide value, but we miss or skim over that which is most important: establishing a deep and binding, long-term relationship.

Because we focus so much time on delivering the content, knowledge, and solution, we forget that our primary focus should be to understand the client.  As Peter Drucker says: “We have shortened the process with our clients and prospects and tend to focus more of our time and attention on the conclusion rather than the preface.

All relationships start and finish with understanding the needs of the client. The more we know our customers, the better we can service them.

In childhood, we had a powerful sense of wonder. We asked: “How come mom?”  “Why is that so, dad?” Our never ending questions probed for more profound understanding but were often considered an annoyance by the adults around us.  We soon learned that to ask too many questions might be wrong. However, the reality is that the sense of wonder we had as a child when brought into our adult lives allows us to understand our world and the people around us better. We have to capture that childhood wonder again because knowing our client is most important, as Drucker says.

Move Beyond The KYC

In the profiling process, the more we can understand the client, the better equipped we are to deliver an innovative solution. Move beyond the legal questions of the Know Your Client form and create lasting relationships. Because of the knowledge gained, we can provide solutions with conviction and transform the relationship with the client.

Currently, we spend the predominant amount of our time focusing on the sale. Let us reverse that model and spend 80% of our time trying to understand the client better and 20% of our time focusing on the solution. Not only would we receive a more profound knowledge of the client and be able to provide a more appropriate solution to a problem, but we would also strengthen the relationship, creating goodwill and advocacy, which far outweighs the value of the sale.

Through persuasion, persistence, and influence, we can convince many people to buy a product or make a change. Many are successful enough and skilled enough at the art of persuasion to do that even against the client’s desire. But in the end, the client is resentful, and advocacy and trust are broken. Goodwill is destroyed. By focusing on the client’s needs and spending our time and attention on understanding who they are, we can see our relationships transformed.

Over the past year, many of my coaching clients have spent focused time completing exercises with their clients to deepen their relationship and truly focus on the essential. The initial response has been amazement at the depth to which the relationship goes as the client opens up unprecedented lines of communication. A deep bond forms between consultant and client because of the questions, probing, and profiling.

In this often challenging year, I encourage you to make it one of your primary goals to profile each of your top 25 households more deeply. Doing so will see your business grow from those clients and ancillary business from their referrals and introductions such that it could be the most valuable year in your career.

2021 is the year to focus on strengthening the relationships around you – within your family, your team, your clients and prospects, neighbors and friends.

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