How to build relationships with clients as an advisor

How to build relationships with clients as an advisor


It’s no secret that working as a financial advisor is highly rewarding. You make a clear, concise difference in the lives of workers who are trying to get ahead financially, and your impact is lasting. You help ease the financial stress your clients feel on a day-to-day basis, and you help them feel confident that they’ll reach financial freedom in due time.

The rewards are plentiful, but being an advisor isn’t always a walk in the park—especially if you want to be a successful one. You have to be good with all types of financial education and investment advice, but to be truly successful, you have to be good with people. Forming connections with your clients will not only help with client retention, but may also help you grow your book of business, which 57 percent of advisors say is their biggest priority for 2019 [1]. But how can you form connections and build relationships with clients if you don’t necessarily identify as a “people person?”

How financial advisors can build deeper client relationships

Whether you’re introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between, it’s not unheard of to struggle to build deep connections—especially in your professional life. We often feel more guarded at work than we do in our personal lives, but luckily, there are easy tactics you can deploy to build long-lasting relationships with your clients.

· Listen

Admittedly, this is obvious, but as an advisor, it’s vitally important to truly listen to what your clients are saying. Early meetings with clients should, yes, focus on their long-term goals and answering any questions they may have, but also make it a point to get to know them on a deeper level. Start learning about things like their outlook on their finances, their values, their family, and their hobbies. Do they like to golf, cook, travel? Getting to know clients below surface level will help you develop a personal relationship with them and will also give you insight as to what their current financial habits look like, which you can then use to help you develop a financial plan that really fits their lifestyle. Plus, clients who feel like their advisor has taken a genuine interest in their lives develop deeper connections with the advisor—leading to loyal customers, and by extension, referral sources. And recent studies show that financial advisors who really know their clients cultivate better relationships and enjoy higher net client growth, making listening even more important than you probably thought at first glance [2].

Just remember that it’s not enough to only listen to what they’re saying out loud; you need to listen to the non-verbals too. Read their body language and try to figure out how they’re feeling throughout each meeting. If they look confused about something you’re saying, explain things further. If they look uncertain when talking about investments or financial strategies, ask them how they’re feeling and offer reassurance with their decision and their financial plan. Doing so will build trust and show clients that you really “get it” and will be there for them through every step of their financial journey.

· Try to avoid using jargon and “financial speak”

Financial jargon isn’t quite so confusing when you work in the industry and speak the language day-in and day-out, but most clients will likely feel overwhelmed if you start throwing around jargon-heavy terms like “asset allocation” and “portfolio diversity” right off the bat. Instead, take the time to really explain concepts at a basic, easy-to-understand level. Allow clients to jump in and ask questions whenever a question arises, and make a real effort to check in with clients for understanding as you go. Communicating complex topics to clients who have little to no prior financial knowledge might be a daunting task, but your client relationships will deepen if you’re willing to take on the trouble.

· Understand the benefit you offer

As we already covered, you are hugely beneficial to clients as a financial advisor. Likely, when you’re talking about who you are and what you can do, one of your main focuses is your experience. It’s common to rattle off your designations and your certifications to showcase all that you have to offer, but simply put, your experience is far from the most important thing about you as an advisor. Yes, experience is important, but you also offer other “services” that are tangibly valuable to clients—support, advice, knowledge, expertise, skills, and credibility, to name a few. Make sure you are confident in yourself, your abilities, and the benefit you offer during your initial client meeting, and display the same self-confidence at each meeting thereafter. Besides, if you aren’t confident in your abilities as a financial advisor, why should your clients be? And a client who is confident in you as an advisor will likely to stay loyal to you and may even refer you to friends or family—again growing your book of business.

Developing deep, personal relationships with clients isn’t always easy-to-do and certainly takes a lot of effort, there’s no doubt about that. But doing so is mutually beneficial to both you and your clients, so we’d say it’s a worthwhile initiative to focus on in 2019. Because who doesn’t like growing their business, after all?

Looking for more advisor resources, tips, and information? Subscribe to our newsletter below and stay up-to-date each month with our latest advisor-specific blog posts and topics!