Are you losing clients before you sign them up?

It was the 80’s and I was in my early thirties, married with two young kids. My husband was gainfully employed and on an upward trajectory. I had worked for a few years and just started my own business, which was looking very promising.

Apart from a mortgage (which now seems laughably small), we had no debts. I decided it was time I started saving. Mutual funds were relatively new at the time and setting aside at least $1,000 per month in an RRSP seemed doable. My husband, being somewhat more adventurous invested in the market and usually did quite well. We also started saving through an RESPs for the kids.

Within a few years we had paid down most of our mortgage and had accumulated a reasonable nest egg. However, although I was not yet 40, my husband was nearing 50 and while he was happy doing his own thing, I thought it was time I got professional advice.

Based on a personal recommendation, I met with a financial advisor. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but he seemed nice enough. He explained that he would put together a long-term financial plan for us. He had us fill out a lot of forms about our financial status: how much did we earn, how much was our house worth, debts if any, etc.

He “pumped” our financial info into a program and out popped a form basically indicating that we would have to invest three to four times more (which was totally unrealistic at the time) in order to amass the millions we would need to sustain us till we were 80 (he assumed we would stop working at 65).

Rather than reassure me, he scared me to death. Not only did I not sign with him, it was years before I talked to another financial advisor. As it turned out, we continued to save what we could and thirty years later we are fine. But he lost a perfect opportunity to earn my trust and engage me as a client for 30+ years.

The final word

There are no short cuts to providing good financial advice!

This advisor needed to take the time to hear our story, ask about our lifestyle, find out more about our kids, our history, our parents, and better understand our long-term life goals.

People aren’t numbers on a spreadsheet. While financial modeling programs are useful, they are far from perfect. Advisors need to spend the time to really understand and listen to their clients to give the best advice on issues that are important to them and their families. It’s that simple and that complicated.

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