Transforming clients from satisfied to engaged
Five powerful questions every financial advisor should ask their clients.
Transforming clients from satisfied to engaged
Asset-Map is on a mission to elevate the financial wellness of millions of people. Unlike traditional software tools, Asset-Map provides a holistic view of a household’s financial picture that empowers humans to easily comprehend, discuss, and make smart financial decisions now and in the future.
I'm pleased to welcome Asset-Map to this discussion of how to keep clients engaged throughout every conversation. -- Shauna.
What’s the difference between an advisor with satisfied clients and engaged clients?
According to Julie Littlechild, founder of Absolute Engagement and client experience expert, engaged clients are satisfied and refer. Engaged clients perceive higher value relative to fees paid, feel more confident about their financial future, are more loyal, and less concerned with short-term market volatility.
In partnership with Asset-Map, a SEI strategic partner, we developed the Client Meeting Prep Checklist to help you drive more engagement in client meetings. In this blog, we are going to dive deeper into how powerful questions can help.
Being a great communicator isn’t all about talking, of course; you have to know when it’s time to listen. Plus, some clients aren’t good communicators, especially when it comes to their finances and future. To engage and provide the best possible financial advice, you have to know how to guide the conversation to uncover the information that matters, and help them take the journey with you.
One way to do this in client review meetings is through powerful questions. A simple way to do this is by asking open-ended versus closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions, like the five provided, cannot simply be answered by a “yes” or “no.”
Five powerful questions to ask your clients
To help you make the most of every meeting, here are the five essential questions financial advisors and planners should ask clients.
1. How confident are you feeling about your financial plan right now?
As every great financial advisor and planner knows, it’s important to gauge how your clients feel1 about their current financial situation when you meet.
This simple client question can have a wide-ranging impact on the rest of your meeting and naturally opens the door for follow-up questions. If your client answers that they feel very confident about their finances, don’t be afraid to ask them why they’re feeling so bullish. Similarly, if your client gives a less positive answer, that’s a perfect opportunity to ask how you can help boost their confidence.
Understanding your clients’ feelings can help determine the direction of the meeting and empower you to directly address any concerns or fears. Posing these direct financial advising questions is especially important during virtual client meetings,2 where it may be harder to accurately gauge client confidence than if you were in the same room with them.
2. Have you had any big changes since we last spoke?
Even if you’ve been meeting with a financial planning client for years, this is still an important question that can help bring to mind something they otherwise may forget to mention.
Plenty of outside factors can affect your client’s financial circumstances, such as having children, switching jobs, or moving to a new location. Your plans and advice need to be tailored to your client’s circumstances, so it’s essential to have a good idea of any significant changes that have occurred between meetings.
Once you’ve assessed what’s changed since your last meeting, then you’ll be able to adjust your existing plan accordingly.
3. What changes may be coming up soon?
It’s also critical to know when your client has changes planned for the future. Switching jobs? Having a kid? They might even want to bump up their retirement date by a year or two.
If your client has a major plan-altering event on the horizon, it’s an easy call to bring fresh eyes to their financial plan.
4. How can I better serve you?
You might think that you’re doing a great job when you’re in the middle of a meeting. However, your financial advising or planning client might have unanswered questions or ideas for improvement.
If you sense a lull in the conversation or think your client might have some concerns that haven’t been brought up yet, ask how you can better serve their needs. This isn’t a self-serving question that attempts to get you a pat on the back. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how invested you are in the relationship.
Great service is the foundation of every great advisory firm, and knowing what type of experience your clients want can be a helpful building block in providing an experience that resonates more deeply with them.3
Even if their suggestions are simple—like asking you to provide clearer explanations—taking their feedback into account will help you provide more effective service and strengthen relationships over time.
5. What is your biggest takeaway from this meeting?
Client meetings can cover a lot of ground and often go in unexpected directions. Before you wrap up, it’s essential to do a quick review of what you covered and make sure you’re both approaching any follow-ups with a shared understanding of what’s most important.
With this simple question, you’ll encourage your client to assess and evaluate their priorities.
Lastly, by asking your client what they got out of your discussion, you’ll also learn how effectively you’re communicating. If you thought an item was important, but your client didn’t put the same emphasis on it, it might be a flag that you have more education or explanation to provide.
Conversely, clients who can’t offer a coherent answer to this question or seem confused overall may be a sign that you’re trying to cover too much in a single meeting.
Taking the time to assess and improve your conversational skills4 can make a huge difference in your practice.
Amplify your client conversations with visuals
In a relationship-based business, client meetings have a heavy influence on the satisfaction and engagement of your clients, which directly impacts the long-term success of your firm.
Improving the quality of communications with powerful questions is one way to cultivate engagement. In addition to the questions, the visuals you use can also amplify your communications. Asset-Map provides a simple, one-page overview of a client’s financial situation, which you can adjust real-time based on the answers to the questions above.
“How Understanding Client Behavior Helps Financial Advisors,” Investopedia, Investopedia.com.
“Remote Meeting Guide for Financial Advisors,” Asset Map, asset-map.com.
“Enhancing the Client Experience with a Better Discovery Meeting,” Asset Map, asset-map.com.
“Jack Choi Case Study” (fee required to view report), Asset Map, asset-map.com.