Perhaps as much as financial knowledge and investment acumen, communication is important to investors in forging a long-lasting working relationship with a financial advisor. Among Millionaire households surveyed by Spectrem Group, roughly half indicated it was important to them that their advisor calls them regularly. Nine-in-ten expects their advisor to respond promptly to inquiries and questions.
For many financial advisors, communication is not something that comes naturally but is a hard-earned skill. But it’s worth it to master, notes award-winning broadcast journalist Bill Moller. In the fourth and final part of the ongoing series, Moller expounds on how effective communication can build a solid relationship that goes beyond mere advisor-client, and can open doors one may not have known existed down the road.
People in all walks of life have had encounters in which they wished they had communicated more effectively. How does one go about a do-over? Moller recommends to just let it go. “Was it really so bad?” he said. “Was it the information that was poor or how you came across? Rather than draw attention to it, just change going forward. Make some adjustments and slowly evolve into a more expressive and confident communicator.”
This is especially true for people who are speaking on camera or in front of an audience. “Never draw attention to a mistake,” Moller emphasized. “Half the audience won’t even know you made a mistake and the other half won’t care because you’re moving on to something else that’s interesting and important that they’re going to be focused on. We all make mistakes. There is nothing criminal about it. If you bulldoze forward, they’re not going to care.”
Clients in any business relationship have expectations of getting their phone calls or emails returned. Failure to do so is the No. 1 reason why an investor will change financial advisors, according to Millionaire Corner research. This brave new world of mobile technology and social media is a “different layer” of communication that represents a further opportunity to forge a more personal working relationship, Moller said. Rather than send a pro-forma email or tweet, better to include personalized information.
“When I interview executives in their office, I may see pictures of them playing golf or pictures of their family,” Moller said. “I’ll start looking for things to share (related to their interests). (When a financial professional does this) you’re saying without saying it, ‘Remember who your favorite financial advisor is.’ You’re showing that you’re paying attention and that you see them as an individual.”
Moller also encouraged nurturing relationships that are more personal than business in the workplace. “The workplace should be more than just your job,” he said. “You should be aware of the challenges, obligations, deadlines and forces at work on your fellow employees. It’s snowing and (a coworker) has a deadline, but has to get her kid home from school. Tell her you’ll be happy to (fill in). They’ll never forget that.”
Moller also suggests a “Miracle on 34th Street” approach to recruiting new business, by which if you can’t offer the expertise a potential client wants, send them to somebody who will. “One door closes when he or she leaves,” Moller said, “but maybe another will open about which you were unaware. Maybe that prospect will remember your sense of integrity and recommend you to someone else.”
For the introvert who does not consider him or herself a good communicator, Moller suggests working gradually to improve your communication skills. “Wade into it,” he said. “Don’t think you’re going to turn on a dime become this charismatic guy. Rewire your thinking so your natural way of expressing yourself changes over time. You have to buy into it. You have to have the desire. It is a long road. Practice your skills in a lower threat environment with immediate family, and then the second ring of acquaintances with whom you’re at least semi-comfortable. Then you reach the outer ring; cold calls, existing and new clients. It doesn’t come in an instant, but you will change and you will change for the better.”