Financial advising is so much more than simply helping people decide what to do with their money.
You need to have empathy, a problem-solving attitude, and an ability to read between the lines in order to discern what’s important to your client, even when he or she isn’t saying it outright.
In short, you’ve got to be a people person - someone who’s able both to put people at ease and relate to their needs, whatever those may be.
If this isn’t the most natural thing for you, don’t worry - there’s plenty you can do to help yourself develop these skills. Here are 4 tips for building stronger connections with your retired clients.
Get to know them early on in the relationship.
Your first meeting with a new retired client should involve a lot more than going over spreadsheets.
During that first appointment, you want to get a wide-ranging view of your client’s background, and not just his or her financial one. How long have they been retired? What is their family situation? What kind of retirement lifestyle do they want for themselves? What are their values?
By getting the full picture of your client as a person, you’ll be in a much better position to help them make the right financial decisions. And just as importantly, asking these kinds of personal questions will let your client know that you care about him or her. That will immediately make it easier for your client to trust you.
Use technology to your advantage.
Technology and the ability to gather huge amounts of data is making it easier than ever before to give your clients truly personalized financial recommendations.
Use these abilities to your advantage by integrating data from various sources into your advising. Utilize predictive analytics regularly to gain a more accurate view of how your client’s accounts are doing, what changes might need to be made, and whether or not a retired client might need to supplement their retirement fund with a life settlement or part-time job.
Continue to ask “powerful” questions throughout the relationship.
As authors Chris White and Richard Koonce write in their book Working with the Emotional Investor: Financial Psychology for Wealth Managers, financial advisors can further deepen their connections with clients by asking “powerful” questions.
These are open-ended questions that invite honest, thoughtful responses from your clients. For example, you could ask a retiree what he or she believes his or her responsibility is to social causes or charities. You might ask what their vision is for their finances.
Another powerful question is to ask how certain emotions and values influence the way they think about their finances.
Remember, their answers might evolve over time, so you may want to go back over some of these questions now and then - particularly when a major life event occurs, like the birth of a grandchild, the death of a spouse, or the marriage of a child.
Be your client’s advocate.
Everyone needs an advocate, especially when it comes to something as important as finances. Aging clients, especially, can become financially vulnerable quite quickly. All it takes is a medical event like a fall, or a need to enter long-term care to drastically change someone’s financial outlook.
Unfortunately, seniors are also vulnerable to being financially taken advantage of by “friends” and even unscrupulous family members. Navigating these situations takes a great deal of sensitivity and tact, but you owe it to your older clients to be on the lookout for potential problems.
Building strong connections with your retired clients takes time and attention, but it’s absolutely worth it. Not only will it help improve your reputation - it will also make your work infinitely more fulfilling.
To learn more about client-advisor relationships, read “3 Ways to Build Trust with Reticent Clients.”