Posted by Robert L. Arone
Estate planning is a complex, nuanced process. Properly done, it requires a specialized team of experts in investment, tax, and legal strategy. At its center, however, is the client and their particular needs, hopes, and goals. It’s vital that over the course of working together, you engage your client and help them gain comfort and understanding of the process. Delving into a client’s plan together is a great opportunity to interact more closely.
Be an Active Listener
As an experienced financial advisor, you may feel as if you’ve heard and seen it all. But every client is unique. Each one’s story, background, goals, hopes and fears are different, and it’s up to you to ensure you’re getting all the necessary information before proceeding with the next steps. If you’re not entering client consultations with the goal of being an active listener, you could be setting yourself up to miss critical details.
Here are some tips for connecting with your clients’ stories and needs:
- Don’t assume you know what they’re about to say next. Each story is different, and even for those stories that seem the same, clients value feeling heard and understood.
- Ask questions. Get more details and a deeper understanding of what the client has shared.
- Pause to recap what the client has said, verifying that you’ve understood correctly. Rephrase what you’ve heard.
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve got the minutiae of your client’s requirements, it’s time to craft a custom solution that will help to secure the future for them and for their families for generations to come. Before you get started, though, research is imperative. Doing your due diligence will ensure that when you bring your solution to your client, it’s with confidence and readiness to get into the nitty-gritty.
The more prepared you are, the better you’ll be able to explain the nuances of the plan. For example, if a client’s best bet is to pursue a charitable strategy with their assets, you’ll need to immerse yourself in the specific benefits of that strategy before moving forward with the client.
Take a Holistic Approach
When delving into complex financial strategies and solutions with clients, technical jargon shouldn’t be your first mode of communicating. Using images, stories, and real world examples instead makes you relatable to clients and encourages buy-in. A visual representation may help clients absorb the intricacies of a financial plan. Similarly, sharing an account illustrating a strategy or requirement similar to the client’s own may shed more light. These methods can provoke deeper dialogue and engagement. Everyone learns differently, and you’ll want to use all the available tools to be the best trusted advisor you can be to your clients.
Work as a Team
Your client’s advisory team is a valuable asset when delving together into complex solutions. Most strategies require alignment of investment, tax, and legal strategies to generate the greatest effect. Collaboration and the resulting synergy across plans means a more thorough strategy, a better informed client, and a superior outcome. The other members of the team are there to help make certain that a potentially confusing strategy becomes manageable and comprehensible for the client.
You know the ins and outs of financial planning, and that’s what makes you valuable to your client. Be the best ally you can be to your clients by working with us to coordinate your client’s financial and legal plans. We’re here to help as you deepen relationships and help clients make the best choices for their futures.