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Setting Client Expectations And Defusing Time Bombs


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Financial advisors who value being better able to help clients make rational, wealth-growing financial decisions will also likely be invested in ensuring they truly understand the factors that power client decision making.

As an advisor committed to helping a client (and, often, their partner) make wise financial investment decisions, you probably will expect and encourage clients to:

  • Set clear goals.
  • Draw lines in the sand that can’t be crossed in terms of types of investment.
  • Take ownership of the decision-making process and not attempt to bully their way into or out of a product (and trust that you will do the same).
  • Understand risk taking, and how it is manageable based on their own risk-taking approach.
  • See you as a coach as well as an advisor and a go-to person when making financial and life decisions.

Some of the difficult conversations you have with clients will related to potential “time bombs.” That is, factors or combinations of factors that will derail their life and financial goals. Identifying them up front is the best protection against detonation. Examples include:

  • Not taking responsibility for their own life, actions and decisions.
  • Not dealing with insecurity. If they lack confidence around wealth creation – help them educate themselves in a way that fits their life and personality.
  • Fear of failure – assure them they are not the first; help them identify strategies to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep going. This is where having an advisor who will also be a coach can be so beneficial.
  • Fear of making mistakes; assure them that they will make mistakes and help them know how to learn from them. This is also a time to underscore that one of your roles is to diligently help them avoid mistakes as much as possible.
  • Not knowing how to say NO. Behavioral insights you can help them glean will strengthen their ability to know when to say “no” and to manage those. They may need to at times say “no” to you – or to other people or choices that might short-circuit their life and financial goals/decisions.
  • Having unrealistic expectations; help them understand how to set themselves – and their relationship with their advisor – up for success, rather than failure.

Genuinely helping a client set goals and expectations, as well as clearly anticipating possible “time bombs,” involves understanding them at a visceral level. And helping them have this understanding of themselves, too. Find a scientifically based data gathering behavioral process. Complete it and have your clients complete it.

You’ll in turn be the financial advisor who clients feel really listens to them and actively works to uncover their (probably hidden below the surface) life dreams and plans. With those in plain sight, you and your client can set about achieving them.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.







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