During Uncertain Times, Leverage the
Opportunity to Build Trust
As the uncertainty of the current health and economic crisis looms, financial advisors often perform less like money managers and more like psychologists. In doing so, they see beyond the clients' assets and understand that clients are human beings struggling to deal with their fears, families, and business concerns.
First and foremost, the role of financial advisor is one of relationships. Consider how you can use these times of uncertainty to deepen trusted client relationships. Frankly, what good is a portfolio or product recommendation, if the client doesn’t trust you enough to act upon it? And why don’t clients act? Very often, the reason is: LACK OF TRUST!
Take a moment and reflect upon people (friends, family, colleagues) in your life with whom you have the best relationships. Likely, at the foundation of these great relationships is one factor – trust! Trust is defined as “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” When it comes to advice, is there any question that people should consider your “reliability, truth, and ability” as they place their financial well-being in your hands?
Your ability to develop trust is essential to delivering advice that a client will value and act upon. Consider the following 5 Pillars of Trust as you use these uncertain times to deepen your client relationships:
1. Client’s Best Interest
Looking out for another’s best interest is a critical element underlying the formation of trust. When a client understands that you are free from conflict-of-interest and are looking out for his or her best interest, then the client can set aside any second-guessing on the content of your advice. To earn the trust of clients, be transparent and overt about how you are putting their best interests and needs ahead of your own.
Your ability to serve clients is directly tied to your level of competence. To earn clients’ trust, you must be good at what you do. You must have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to effectively address clients’ needs. Your competence as investment managers, financial planners, business leaders, problem solvers – and all the other hats you wear each day – is a consequence of the sum total of your professional education and experience. Take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, and consider how you can use your time out of the office to shore up any weak links.
People grant a greater level of trust to professionals who have established credibility. What have you done to obtain and promote your credibility among your clients and within your community? How have you obtained and marketed advanced credentials (CFP, CRPC, ChFC, CPWA, etc.) that separate you from others? BEING knowledgeable, experienced, and qualified is not enough – you must promote it so clients know it! Take the steps to market market and display your advanced qualifications to clients and centers of influence - on your website, in publications, in your communications, and via social media.
Trusting relationships are formed over time through multiple encounters and experiences. With each connection, clients gradually learn that you are reliable, predictable and trustworthy – or that you are not. Reliability is a reflection of how well your behavior matches your value proposition. Do you deliver on your promises to clients and regularly and consistently address their expectations? Do you service clients in a predictable, consistent manner? Increase the number and frequency of these meaningful, successful engagements, and you will increase your clients' trust in you.
The fifth pillar of trust, integrity, is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” The more integrity you demonstrate in your advice-giving, the more likely you are to be trusted. Clients are looking for you to be authentic, ethical, and truthful. In these trying times, there are many opportunities to demonstrate your integrity - sharing bad news in a good way, making difficult decisions, and living by your code of ethics when others may not.
As you connect with clients during these uncertain times, after each engagement, pause and ask yourself "How much does this client trust me?" Reflect upon the 5 Pillars of Trust, and define specific actions you could take to further develop the client's trust . . . and do it!
Dr. Jensen is a renowned performance coach and author. In financial services, Dr. Jensen has consulted with top firms including Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, LPL, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Charles Schwab, and LPL. In golf, his clients have combined to win 33 major championships, and in tennis, Dr. Jensen has trained winners of all four Grand Slam championships. Dr. Jensen has been featured on ABC, ESPN, CNN, and the Golf Channel.