Here is the LinkedIn article I wrote sometime back on what makes a good financial adviser.
What kind of financial adviser are you? The one your client needs or the one your client wants. Have you ever wondered which one you are? Because there is a difference. My experience and the interactions with the clients have taught me that the client is constantly in battle with his Past, Present, and Future and he wants to win this battle.
The battle is to:
Improve upon his Past i.e. Create more Wealth
Take care of his Present i.e. live comfortably, save tax, enjoy life, manage expenses, etc.
Secure his Future – comfortable retirement, secure child’s future, wealth preservation, succession planning, etc.-Arvind Krishnan
Most of your clients know that financial planning is important but do not wish to devote the time and energy required to become experts in the different aspects of financial planning. They want their life simplified. They want to be liberated from the demands of managing their finances so that they can concentrate on living life. So, to win this battle between past, present, and future; your client needs professional help.
So, yes, you are the financial adviser that your client needs! But, are you ‘the’ adviser your client wants?
Now, this has less to do with your client and more to do with you as a professional.
Consider this, you are not the only one who is advising the client. As a financial adviser, you are competing with every other financial advisory firm along with numerous other wealth managers, private bankers, financial planners, financial analysts, direct sales agents, etc. in the market. In addition, there are multiple products and countless providers.
It’s such a competitive market! Who knows it better than you because, for most of you, your personal life depends on it. Add to the competition, the pressure from media reports on customer dissonance, independent survey results, fluid regulations, etc.
If you Google ‘How to choose a financial adviser?’, you will find countless websites prompting your clients on how the ‘Best Adviser’ looks like. Every website quotes a different number of qualities of the ‘Most Desired’ financial adviser.
This means you have a market where there is a need for financial advice, but You may not be the financial adviser the client wants. In other words, the client may be preferring somebody else over you. So, what to do?
To become the preferred financial adviser, there are some simple things one can do.
1. Google ‘How to choose a financial adviser?’
Yes, the first thing to do would be to google ‘How to choose a financial adviser?’ and go through the qualities given in each article. Then list them out and cross out the qualities you think you already have, and tick mark the ones you need to work on. Once you have the list of qualities (Knowledge, Skill, and Attitude), start work immediately. Take help where required.
2. Use your product providers
Once you have made the list, use your product providers to the hilt. If you need to work on your knowledge and skill sets, they will be happy to engage with you and provide you with the necessary training and learning materials. You will be surprised, how forthcoming your providers can be in helping you become the most sought-after adviser.
3. Complete your Professional Qualifications
Enroll for professional qualifications from CII, CISI, LIMRA, FPSB, etc. and complete it. The priority should be the one recognized by regulatory authorities and relevant to your field.
A professional qualification not only adds value to your profile but also opens your mind to new ideas which help you to demonstrate the breadth of your knowledge and understanding in enabling better outcomes for your clients.
While the above will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills, there is one important quality that can set you apart from all advisers. It is as below.
4. Empathy for clients
Empathy is the key to be the best financial adviser.
Empathy is important because it helps you to look beyond your assumptions by putting yourself in the shoes of the client you are advising or simply see the world through your client’s eyes. It will help you learn more about your client’s experiences and perceptions. Empathy means slowing down, first find out what’s important to the client.
For some advisers, clients are mere numbers or transactions. Such advisers shut shop sooner.
You don’t have to depersonalize your clients, rather listen to them, to what they are saying and to what they have left unsaid. Uncover their latent or unmet financial needs. The design thinking course from IDEO U taught me to discover what matters to people- what triggers their frustration and what provides ease, what brings grief and what sparks joy. All this will help you empathize with your client and have a meaningful relationship with your client. You need to ask yourself,
If I was this client, will the advice I am giving be acceptable to me?
Will I consider this product or investment to be the best advice based on the circumstances?
Putting yourself in your client’s shoes helps you measure the quality of your advice. And the more you think about your clients, the better connect you have with them.
How about investing your own money in the product or investment you are advising your client?
Try losing your hard-earned money in a bad investment and you will start empathizing with the client.-Arvind Krishnan
Hope I made some sense. There are so many other things you can do, but for now, if you agree with me, start working on yourself keeping the above four ‘To Dos’ in mind.
If you are already doing it, congratulations. Now help your junior colleagues do the same.
The next time somebody asks you – What kind of financial adviser are you? The one your client needs or the one your client wants.
Your answer should be ‘both’.
Note- A financial plan looks at all aspects of your finances and considers the past, present, and future. If you want to connect to a financial adviser for your financial goals, we can help you. In all these years in financial services, we have built relationships, and you can leverage those relationships for your benefit by connecting with us.