- Don't just talk about your process to clients and prospects. That's dry and boring. Talk about how they're going to "feel" by going through your process. Get them emotionally engaged from the beginning of the relationship.
- Advances in technology and rising customer expectations are forcing advisors to "up their game" when it comes to interpersonal communication. Top advisors are learning techniques such as "appreciative inquiry" and "motivational interviewing" which improve the advisor's ability to relate to and understand their client and encourage behavior change.
- "What prompted you to reach out?" is one of Dan Moisand's favorite conversation starter questions with potential new clients. He wants to find out what's bothering them or what's on their mind then he sets about solving it right away. When you address the prospect's concerns quickly, "they'll feel the value. They'll feel well served. They'll be more excited about getting into stuff they weren't as excited about getting into, but that they know still needs to be addressed."
Today's guest is Dan Moisand. Dan is a Principal and Financial Advisor at Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo. He’s also a past national president of the Financial Planning Association and has been featured as one of America's top financial planners by at least 10 financial planning publications. Dan’s perspective on how the industry has changed during his long career led our conversation to some strong insights on steps advisors can take to improve their value in 2019 and beyond.
“When I first started, part of the value of working with me was I had access to information that the client didn't,” Dan Moisand remembers. “Then it became I could get to the information quicker than the client could. Now, all the information is everywhere.”
That’s a boon for your average investor, but a problem for advisors who are stuck in their old ways. Clients won’t value you if you’re just repackaging numbers that they can find themselves online.
Maybe even more problematic for advisors is how instantaneous access to those numbers can affect client behavior. Twenty years ago, when internet use really started to skyrocket, we’d joke about people who used websites to self-diagnose illnesses, some real, some not-so-real. But a person who’s afraid he’s sick can’t self-prescribe drugs or perform an operation. An investor who’s panicked by the numbers on his screen can and with a couple clicks, make a rash decision that could be fatal to his retirement plan.
“You move away from being a provider of information to being an interpreter of information, a processor of information, to delivering even higher-value things,” Dan says. “That means trying to be wise about this information. How it affects this particular family given all of their circumstances. I'm not talking about just the facts and the figures. I'm talking about how they think about things and how they worry about things and who they're worrying about.”
This trend towards a new definition of who advisors are and what we do is only going to accelerate as technology becomes smarter and more autonomous. Advisors who don’t start improving their human-to-human communication skills will soon find they are in danger of getting left behind by advisors who do, or worse, by cheap technology.
1. Be a person.
Some folks in our industry treat technology like a panacea that’s going to cure every challenge. But technology doesn’t always make our lives easier or more efficient.
Think about booking a vacation. Our parents called up a travel agent, said where they wanted to go and when, and the agent did all the work. Now, thanks to the internet, we’re the ones clicking through options and comparing prices. This might be a little cheaper, but it’s certainly not easier.
Here’s another scenario that might sound familiar:
“I called the cable company a couple days ago," Dan told me. “Where are the people? Where is the person? They keep telling me that they have FAQs on the website. I am not doing that. I'm standing in my living room, not being able to watch the television. I want an answer.”
And so do your clients. More than that, they want answers that pertain to their specific circumstances, and the unique transitions that might be affecting their lives in a given moment. As tech improves, the piece of the plan that only a person can deliver is going to get smaller. But it’s also going to become more valuable -– especially if, like Dan, you focus on delivering human value that no technology will ever make obsolete.
2. Coach your clients.
There are many ways to think about how to redefine your role as an advisor. My partner Mitch Anthony and I like to think of our services as life-centered planning. Dr. Brad Klontz talked to me about using what he calls “money scripts” to uncover why people have certain attitudes about money, and help them correct beliefs that could be negatively impacting their finances. Dr. Martin Seay and I discussed how advisors can incorporate positive psychology into planning to give their clients an improved sense of well-being. And Dan and I both like the idea of “coaching” clients towards better financial habits and decisions.
These are all interesting and valid ways of addressing the changes in the financial advice business from a similar angle. “What it really comes down to is that we as financial advisors are going to have to dramatically up our game with our interpersonal communication and our ability to relate and really understand what's going on with a particular client family,” Dan says. “One of my favorite starting questions is, 'What prompted you to reach out?' It's really important to find out what's bothering them or what's on their mind because if you can help them address that quickly in the process, they'll feel the value. They'll feel well served."
Mastering these kinds of conversations will build a special rapport between you and your clients. When life happens, you’ll be on speed dial.
3. Solve your problems your way.
Advisors who are motivated to make themselves indispensable to their clients have so many resources available to them such as conferences, web training, and podcasts. But there’s a big difference between learning from successful advisors and just copying them. The specific steps or actions that worked for someone else might not work for you. The learnings that underpin those steps, however, might lead you to new ways to harness your unique gifts and create a unique client experience.
“You gotta pay attention to what feels comfortable to you and adapt,” Dan says. “You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time, but you really can't do something that's against your nature. It will just come across as awkward at the worst.”
When you’re done listening to this podcast, write down 3-5 ideas from Dan’s client interactions that resonate with you. These could be some of the questions Dan says he likes asking during discovery, or some of the philosophies he discussed.
But instead of just trying to copy-and-paste Dan’s best practices into your own, ask yourself why a particular idea set off a bell in your head. Did Dan Moisand solve a problem you’re having in your meetings or discovery process?
Take another look at the 3-5 things you wrote down and ask yourself how you could adapt that idea to your own practice, your own clients’ needs, and your own goals for a great 2019.
- Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo Visit Dan Moisand and his team online.
- Pro Bono for Cancer Dan Moisand is involved in this Foundation for Financial Planning Campaign that provides free -- and potentially life-saving -- financial advice to the families of cancer patients.
- The Money Stories That Could be Hurting Your Clients my conversation with Dr. Brad Klontz about the money scripts that could be influencing your clients' behaviors.
- How to Apply Positive Psychology Concepts to the Financial Planning Process Dr. Martin Seay talked with me about the practical science advisors can use to help clients make better financial decisions.
- "Tested in the Trenches" by Ron Carson and Steve Sanduski I swear I didn't put Dan up to this! But I'm flattered he recommends this gameplan for building and sustaining a successful RIA.
- "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo Dan Moisand says he re-reads this classic regularly to remind himself how powerful good storytelling can be.
- The ROL Index A tool Mitch Anthony and I developed to help advisors measure their clients' well-being in 10 aspects of life.
- Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
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