Show and Tell: Five Points to Make with Prospects

Sue Bergin@SueBergin

The best storytellers are the ones that have mastered the art of “show, don’t tell.” Their ghost stories, for example, have descriptions of settings and physical manifestations of emotions. Sentences like “it was a scary place,” serve only to punctuate what the reader or listener already concluded.

The same can be said of advisors. Telling someone that you can help them achieve their financial goals does not make nearly as big of an impact as when you show them how.

The following are five areas where it is important to show clients why you are the best choice.

Five Points to Make with Prospects:

  1. How you will organize their financial lives. While most clients don’t come out and admit it, their financial lives are chaotic. They may not know how many assets they truly have and how they can put them all to work to increase purchasing power. The first step for advisors is to show clients the before and after. Explain to them what they currently have now versus what their potential growth may look like. Demonstrate how you will make them feel more in control of their financial lives. It could be something as simple as taking out your iPad and showing them the client portal of wealth management tools.
  2. 6.11.13_Bergin_Show&TellHow you will help them make good investment decisions. The term “good investment decisions” is too opaque to resonate with clients. Instead, walk clients through the process used to create an Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Talk to the client about how an IPS helps to guide future decisions. In the recent Brinker Barometer, we learned that 72% of advisors use a written IPS to help clients make non-emotional investment decisions when the market is in flux. The IPS is tangible proof of a disciplined process that will benefit the client.
  3. What you do to ensure that clients get the best advice and service possible. Marketing-darling phrases like independent, objective and unbiased, fall flat. Instead, describe the process that you go through to ensure that your recommendations are appropriate for the need you are trying to solve.
  4. You have been there, done that. Your experience does not speak for itself. You have to give it a voice. If you just say, “I have been an advisor 22 years,” you miss the opportunity to highlight what you have seen throughout your career. It is more impressive to learn that you have helped others thrive in all market climates than to know that you’ve been at this for a while.
  5. You appreciate their business. It’s easy to say “I value your business,” but to convey that message through action takes a concerted effort. Personal touches such as the just-checking-in phone calls, handwritten notes, and occasional invitations to social events let clients know that their business and their well-being matter to you.

Feed the Validation Impulse

Sue BerginSue Bergin

There was a time when you could provide clients with a prospectus along with your recommendation, and that would be enough.  Your clients would go home, read it, and get back to you with a yay or nay.

Just as your recommendation is one slice of data the client considers when making an investment decision, the prospectus is another.  There could potentially be many other data slices that you don’t know about.

Clients are increasingly relying upon online sources to validate the recommendations made by advisors. 

According to a recent LIMRA study, the number of people who researched individual insurance or annuity products online increased from 38% in 2006 to 61% now.   Reasons clients flock to their keypads:  research companies and product offerings, seek product information, and compare prices.

The good news from LIMRA’s study is that sixty-nine (69%) of survey participants view their advisor as the most valuable and influential source for information.

The dangerous aspect of the online validation trend for advisors is that there is no way of knowing where clients go for more about the investments or strategies you recommend.  They could Google-step right into the lair of your biggest competitor.  They may discover that certain sites make investments sound so easy that they begin to think they don’t need an advisor after all.

The best way to deal with the validation impulse is to feed it.  When you recommend a strategy or product, give your client online resources that you’ve confirmed support your recommendation.  Sure, you can hand out pamphlets and brochures, but do something that will settle the twitchy fingers.  Provide links to online articles or websites that have credible information.

The best-case scenario is to link resources to your own website. For example, your website could have a knowledge center or research room.  You don’t have to draft all of the content, but rather link to credible sources.  That way you become both the primary and secondary source of information.  You provide the path to validation and guided the decision-making process.