For many advisors, changing client expectations can leave many feeling like they're moving into the realm of becoming a life coach or counselor. And you’re not wrong. But it’s the place you want to be - here’s why.
Life coach is a word that, let’s just say, doesn’t necessarily warm everybody up.
Yet, this is the experience clients are asking for more and more. We’re not saying put your financial instruments down, forget about Excel, and pick up that psychology book. Instead, we’d like you to think of your role more as an advocate - a person who publicly supports a cause or policy…or, in this case, your clients.
Undoubtedly, the foundational work of the financial planning relationship is financial planning itself. It’s why they became your client - “I have this need, and I need it solved.” But after you solve it, the value of a financial advisor and the value of a plan is the journey you take the client on.
Your clients want to have someone to have a dialogue with about their lives because they don't make space for it themselves. They need a sounding board and somebody to be that advice source. And there isn't anybody in someone's life better position to play that role as a guide than a financial advisor or investment advisor; there just isn't.
Look around; who else could be influencing their life? You have a very privileged and special place. They'll open up and be vulnerable. They're willing to share because they know what they're talking about with you is real life, which is intrinsically tied to their finances and how committed they are to making their plan come true. They’ll invest their time with you because you guide them on their journey to living their best possible lives. And they’ll share their stories of who you’ve helped them become along the way.
This is the magic of advice and what differentiates firms that offer an extraordinary client experience from those that are more transactional in nature.
So how do you do it? In our latest episode of Into the Lumiverse, Dennis, Tom, and Mark offer these three tips:
Dennis Moseley-Williams, Serious Shift: In your next meeting, ask a client:
"If we help achieve all your financial goals and money is no longer a worry for you, what would you worry about instead?”
Sit back and listen. Let the client open up about the other areas of their life that cause concern. This will be deeply personal to them. It will be what they really care about. And if you can find ways to support them in these areas, you’ll be seen as their advocate and that their time with you is time well invested.
Tom Frisby, Serious Shift: Next time you meet with a client - someone you know, someone you're comfortable with - say:
“We’ve been working together for a while now. We’ve already achieved some great goals together and still have more to go. Let’s just take a minute to assume all your goals have now been completed with the plan we have in place. What's that going to do for you?”
And then just sit back and listen.
You'll start to hear the real stuff come out then because we're beyond goals and starting to get into aspirations, personal meaning, and values. So it's not meant to be a conversation; it's meant to be the beginning of that ongoing dialogue. And the true definition of dialogue is an ongoing conversation to find and establish common meaning.
Mark Akeroyd, Lumiant: Being a life coach or advocate might feel overwhelming to people who haven't taken this path before. We find it comes from this need as an advice community to be the problem solver.
Here's my tip: the art of this isn't necessarily being the problem solver but having the courage to ask one of these great questions, having the poise to hold space, and letting your client fill that space with what’s important to them. And having the humility to recognize that you may not have the solution but the wisdom to know that you're in a far better place than if you hadn't asked the question.
Let us know what your top tips and how you engage with your clients to become their advocate in the comments. Want to check out the full episode of Into The Lumiverse?