You prep before every meeting.
Especially for a prospect. After all, your first meeting with a potential client can be make-or-break. You never go into this meeting blind. You have all of your information prepared and have a strong agenda laid out, feeling excited to hear their story and hook them into becoming a client. You do your research…
…But so do they.
People who are shopping for a financial advisor want to choose the “perfect” one, so they’re careful about research – what to look for, what to expect, what to ask – and you better bet they’re coming with all that in mind.
To fully prepare yourself for your next prospect meeting, it’s crucial to be mindful of the advice they may have received. Here are some of the most common advice people get about choosing a financial advisor, and how you can be prepared.
“Get a background check first.”
Potential prospects are often given advice to check your certification, your registrations, and that you show up in searches (such as through the Investment Advisor search engine in the Securities and Exchange Commission). It’s possible they may even ask you for a criminal background check.
None of these things are out of the ordinary. Be willing and be open with these details. You’re about to see their entire financial history. If they’re trusting you with their information, you should be trusting them with yours.
“Interview at least three candidates before picking your advisor.”
When going shopping, you wouldn’t pick something from the first rack and walk right out of the store. In picking out a new car, you wouldn’t drive the first one off the lot without understanding the basics of how it runs. So why would your prospect settle for the first financial advisor they see?
Your prospect has been told they “need to know their options” before committing. Give them time to get to know you and understand how your business works. They will be more trusting of you if you give them the time to make the decision that is right for them.
Be accepting that your prospective client will be looking around at other advisors before deciding to sign on with your services. Urging them to act quickly will often be interpreted as a warning sign. There is never an investment that must be made immediately.
“You want broad financial advice? Hire a CFP*.”
Financial Planners who have been certified CFP have immediate credibility with their prospects. It’s a tough certification to earn. The continuing education also soothes the client because they know you will always be up-to-date on what is going on in the financial world.
*Not all clients will actually be looking for a CFP, but the majority of advice columns about finding a financial advisor recommend CFP advisors because of their broad spectrum. This means that some clients may come in knowing very little about other certifications. If you’re certified RIA, or anything else, be ready to fully explain why your certifications matter and what they entail.
“Find an advisor who specializes in people like you.”
If they were going into brain surgery, they would much rather have a neurologist than just a general surgeon. A client won’t want a high-buck advisor or an advisor that specializes in another profession if it doesn’t fit who they are.
Your prospect will be looking for customized advice based directly on their own unique consequences, no question about it. Be ready to show them that you can be this person for them by showing interest in who they are and why you are qualified to work for them.
“You’re better off hiring fee-only…But you shouldn’t have to ask what their fee structure is.”
Many sources out there tell people to be wary of advisors who work off of commission. They fear that the commission they receive from the products they sell creates a conflict of interest; what’s stopping you from selling more products to ensure that you’ll get a higher paycheck? Prospectives may be wary of this system, but this doesn’t mean they’ll write you off if you DO work off of a commission or fee-based system.
Be open and honest about how your billing system works and why it works that way. If they seem wary, offer to answer any questions they have about your system. They’re going to find out about it eventually, and it’s going to be their biggest question when they enter the meeting. If you bring it up before they do, you’ll win brownie points for being so transparent and honest with them from the start.
“Don’t trust an advisor who has too much (or too little) time for you.”
That’s right. Meet prospect Goldilocks. An advisor who has a completely open schedule seems a little too available. Successful advisors are extremely busy. If you aren’t, they’ll wonder why your schedule is so open. They’ll worry that your openness is a sign that your business isn’t desired by others.
An advisor who has too little time can also be a problem. Clients want their information readily available. If you aren’t able to return phone calls, it’s a sign that they won’t be able to contact you when it’s urgent. A survey taken by J.D. Power & Associates found that advisors who contacted their investors more than twelve times a year had the highest satisfaction rates.
Show your prospect that you have a well-balanced schedule. Give them options of times to come in, keep yourself open for communication, and show your interest in them.
“Don’t trust an advisor who wants to see you without your partner.”
Married couples usually share their finances. When a financial advisor makes a point of suggesting that both people come to the first meeting, it sends a message of collaboration, understanding, trust, and openness.
Ask your prospect if they are is financially attached to anybody – whether it is a spouse, life partner, or an elderly parent. If this person is not attending your meeting, find out why.
“Do they seem interested in you…at all?”
Be careful of going on about yourself too much during a meeting with a potential prospect. It’s important that they know about you, but make sure the dialogue goes at least 50-50 between you and them.
Rather than pitching your sale through your entire meeting, learn as much as you can about them. Ask questions about their financial goals, their health, their debt, their job security, their financial responsibilities, their future plans, and anything else you might need to know about them. Learn as much as possible about their financial past and present before stepping on how much they are able to begin investing.