Here are some questions for you to ask every client (after reviewing what you’ve done for them over the last year):
“We’ve been working together for xx years. For my part it’s been a good relationship but I want to make sure it works for you. In the spirit of improving the communication between us and to help me do more on your behalf, can you answer a few questions for me?
- Over the next 10-15-20 years, what does success look like for you? Where would you like to be?
- What are your thoughts about how we review your goals and establish milestones every year, and how we assess your investments?
- If I rough out some milestones for each of the next 10 years, based on our conversations, are you OK with that? Or would you like to do it together. Once done, I’ll use those milestones to discuss what’s happened versus what we thought would happen.
In all cases – Listen, listen and then listen some more! Do not interrupt! Repeat her words back to her. Did you get it right? Is there something you need to change? Can you reasonably change to accommodate her requests?
You can continue the conversation saying something like, “We can talk about the securities that have done well and those that haven’t, and whether we need to sell or buy more to get to the next milestone. But achieving your goals is what matters most and I want us to continue to focus on that more than on the short-term performance of individual stocks and/or funds. Are you Comfortable with that approach?”
Clients want to value their advisor. But they also want to know their advisor values them, not just for the money they make but in being accountable for delivering a process that helps the client get to where they want to go. Putting aside the time to have an in-depth conversation with your client, being careful that you are not doing it simply for your own benefit, but that you truly do care about delivering the best possible service, will paradoxically result in greater success for you.