Client perception is our reality.
As financial planners, we solve problems. But, you can only provide meaningful advice if your clients understand the correct problem.
I’ve talked in the past about how we have so much information available, we get paralyzed by indecision. And with so much information available, it can’t all be accurate. Just turn on cable news and you’ll see more speculation than factual reporting. People believe what they expose themselves to – and that messaging is constant. Our clients focus on the media at least as much as they focus on what we say. More, if we aren’t providing them with the information they need.
A client’s sentiment, right or wrong, affects their behavior. It’s also constantly changing – especially if you are only meeting with clients annually. So, it’s no wonder that it can seem almost impossible to keep up.
That’s where our alignment needs to change. We’re in a place of communication failure. Not about portfolio performance or basic information … we’re missing how a client’s changing emotional mindset can impact a far-reaching financial plan.
According to a recent survey, 65% of Americans believe there will likely be a recession in the next year, while most economists indicated that during the summer, those winds have subsided. The survey was conducted in early fall after economists changed their predictions. Yet our clients’ beliefs didn’t change. That tells me either we are not communicating properly, or clients have fallen behind in obtaining important economic data.
Either way, the burden falls on us to communicate clearly.
Preparing … Partially
The survey asked what Americans are doing if they believed a recession is imminent. Smartly, most respondents indicated they have begun building an emergency fund or paying down debt.
Unfortunately, only 13% of the survey participants have taken the time to reallocate their investments. This is in the backdrop of one of the largest increases in market value since the financial crisis.
Few are taking risk off the table. Probably because we are not advising them to do so.
Clients move. The market experiences poor performance. A friend enters the industry and your client transfers business to them.
Planning vs Reality
Most Americans are saving less money than our parents, but we are saving money for retirement. But our clients save based on the expectations (that we help set) they will reach their ideal retirement age before leaving the workforce. What’s on your clients’ plan? 65? 67? 70? For more than 40% of Americans, that won’t be the case. 4 in 10 will have to retire early due to health concerns or being forced to leave the workforce.
Will your client still be set up for success if they retire earlier than projected? Have you talked about it?
Overcoming Communication Failure
In a worse-case scenario, failing to help clients change their perception and understand the financial market can cost them security and wealth. Selfishly, it can also cost us the ability to gain new clients.
If we don’t prepare our clients for contingencies, they will fail to enjoy the lifestyle they have been envisioning. If that happens, we risk not only the client relationship but future relationships of generations to come.
We must be better at communicating the risks and solutions associated with retirement income planning. And, we need to do that in a way that is so simple, thematic and compelling that our clients tune out the noise of friends, family and media to use us as the trusted source.
As a StoryBrand Guide, we tell our advisors, “If you confuse, you’ll lose.” Getting your message clear is difficult, but leads to exponential gains in your business. When you correct how you communicate, you will impact your clients’ lives because you have a better chance at being aligned.
This is where High Performing Practice can help. In past blogs we’ve talked about some of the techniques: finding the right clients, building deeper relationships, automating your message, and most importantly keeping your message clear.
But it really comes down to you and your clients. Are you understanding their reality? And what are you doing to meet them where they are, then guide them to a place of security?
If you’re ready to have that conversation, we can help.
Improve your communication – and effectiveness — through simple and consistent messaging that connects with your clients.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.