Its that time of year again, the leaves are changing, the weather chills, but some things, unfortunately, remain as stale as last year’s candy corn. Financial planning is a time-intensive process that can be as cumbersome and expensive as it is helpful and useful. Regardless of a financial advisor’s business model, a failure to adapt to changing times can cost even the most successful financial advisor’s business. As a business grows out of its infancy, having the opportunity to meet with clients may increase, but having the opportunity to truly understand those clients can become increasingly difficult. So when the volume of referrals is no longer an issue for a financial planner to overcome, there is but one question they have to ask themselves:
Are you meeting with the right clients?
Every financial planner may have their own unique niche, maybe they only work with physicians or engineers. Perhaps it’s based on life stages, where one advisor prefers to work with retirees because they specialize in the distribution phase, where another expert prefers pre-retirees as they emphasize asset management and maximizing growth and accumulation. Regardless of who an advisor prefers to meet with, initial client meetings can often feel like a blind date, and both parties can leave disappointed. Even if an advisor feels like everything has gone well, just like in the world of dating, there is always the chance of being “Ghosted”.
What does it mean to be “Ghosted”?
Well, in the general lexicon of today, being “Ghosted” generally means that some form of relationship has started i.e. dating, client-advisor engagement, friendship, and then one of the two parties leaves suddenly with no warning, no follow-up, they are just gone. While more commonly associated with dating, “Ghosting” has without a doubt become a popular form of leaving relationships, and occurs with regularity in terms of today’s professional relationships such as lack of commitment to a doctor, mechanic, or even a financial advisor.
Why are clients so quick to “Ghost” professionals?
To avoid being “Ghosted” by a client, it is important to understand why a potential client may choose to ghost in the first place. Little things add up, and preconceived notions about certain professions invoke negative connotations. How many jokes, for example, begin with a dig about a car mechanic, a lawyer, or a “wall street person”? While many in those roles may be upstanding members of their respective professions, there is inherent distrust amongst consumers and a fear of being oversold without their best interests being looked after. In essence, clients may view the very professionals they rely on to help provide solutions as bloodthirsty vampires looking to suck every free dollar available from them.
(Check out our Halloween Video “The Tale of the Ghost Client“)
What can I do to restore a client’s faith in financial planning?
Trust is the single most important asset that an advisor can develop to prove that they don’t turn into a bat at night or view their client’s wealth an exposed neckline to engorge from. Often in fostering a relationship, it helps to have a mutual third-party who can build a bridge between the two parties. At My Financial Coach, we provide comprehensive unbiased financial planning solutions to clients, where analysis is provided to help clients better understand any gaps in their planning, and what steps they can take to make progress towards its success. This type of financial planning is client-focused and allows a client to then make educated decisions and come back to their own financial advisors who specialize in particular financial solutions or do it themselves. We also know a few specialized advisors or as we call them here: Subject Matter Experts who can also find the right to close those gaps. This helps the client feel confident that they have a true team of experts looking out for their best interests.
Ghosts and Vampires belong to Halloween, and not to the world of financial planning. When a client knows that their concerns have been thoroughly reviewed there is no need to evaporate into thin air and when an advisor has the opportunity to make a case for their recommendations based on the unbiased analysis they can retract those fangs.
Andrew J. Crosby, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®
Lead Financial Coach