If you have met me, read any of my blogs, or have heard about me, you probably know that I love sitting down with people to talk about their life. Over the course of private practice advising and now developing relationships at The Signatry, it has become clear that there are ways to have connective conversations versus habits that may ruin a potential partnership.
Here is what I have learned helps foster a positive and connective relationship with a client, partner, or friend in Christ. From the before, during, and after of a conversation, advisors can use this template to develop a successful client-advisor relationship.
Before You Meet Checklist
- Pray over the person and the opportunity to build them up and focus their life to their goals.
- Have a genuine desire to understand the whole person. Ask the referral source to let you know as much about the upcoming client as they feel comfortable. What is the purpose in bringing you in front of this person?
- Bring nothing to the first meeting but a blank sheet of paper and questions. This is not about you or what you offer but about serving the client.
- It is best to have both the husband and wife, if applicable, at the appointment. This is so important to me, that often if someone cannot make it, I rebook. There is so much evidence that working to carry out a couple’s goals leads to a much happier partnership and fewer roadblocks later in your work.
During Your Conversation
- I start off and ask the client to share their life story. It may take three minutes or thirty minutes. I look for information on the personal side like their faith, emotions, and life goals. The financial conversation is easy. They do not teach you about the personal side on a CFP exam, license exam, or at the baccalaureate level. Work on how you connect as a person. Come back to the easy stuff like taxes, legal, and financial. The fourth element, their legacy, is what they are living out daily and most important.
- Ask open-ended questions that lead to what the client wants to accomplish through your advisership and take notes. Do they want to open a business, put a grandchild through college, or help provide for a cause in the world?
- Know your sweet spot with a client and be willing to work with other experts to develop the best team for them. Just last week, an advisor I am working with in the Northwest is working to engage with a new client and knows they are a generous couple with strong faith who need a structure around their generosity. Bringing in The Signatry is just one example of a way to bring in an expert that will satisfy serving the couple, and I know will secure him that client.
The Follow Up
- Evaluate if the client is aligned to your value system. This is one of the most difficult things to do, especially if there is money involved. In 1997, I hit a turning point and understood the importance of only pursuing clients who matched my own value system or who could get there. I asked myself many questions but mainly whether the individual cared about other people or other causes outside of themselves. Cull your clients for this goal.
The legacy we leave behind is the legacy we are living today. The ability to work with clients on the values, goals, and personal part of their life is what is important to their legacy. While you can do the basics like taxes, legal, and financial, a long-lasting connection and mutual partnership are not wholly built on those three issues. Instead, it is built on the values you share and the legacy they are working toward. I pray that applying these lessons will set you up for impactful work with the clients you serve.