Research tells us that 90 percent of heirs will reject their parents' financial advisors, and 70 percent of widows will change advisors after their husband's death. Can you afford that level of loss?
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I thought through my coaching clients for the last 10 years and realized that I have heard this excuse too many times.
I remember talking to a client and he was very upset. He had lost one of his largest clients. I asked him what happened and he said that the husband died and the spouse transferred her money to another advisor, saying, "You only talked to my husband when we came for our reviews."
How often do you lose the assets after your clients die? For those of you who are being honest with yourself, this happens a lot and you know it. But this article is supposed offer solutions, not a mean coach opening up an old wound. So what do you do?
You learn how to talk to them or hire a professional. There are people out there who are trained in these issues, and one of my clients is a pro. In fact, she is one of the chosen few who can handle really tough family issues - addiction, lifestyle issues, and entitlement issues. I have learned a lot about her technique over the time we have worked together and I wanted to share some of her insights. I would refer financial advisors to her at a moment's notice.
I asked her to give the top 10 things she could share without making all the advisors that read this guilty of practicing psychology without a license. Here is what she said.
1. Define your client. If you want to retain assets over the long-term, then your relationship must extend to present and future stakeholders.
2. Serve your client. Check your behaviors. Whom do they suggest your client is? With whom do you speak the most? Whom do you contact with questions or recommendations? Saying the couple or the family is your client is not enough. Your actions must reflect the same.
If your attention is skewed, you are missing the opportunity to develop a relationship with the other member(s) of the couple or family, and they will likely move the assets when the person they view as your client dies.
3. Know your client. If you are working with a couple or a family, you must get to know each person individually. Know their priorities, preferences, dreams and fears. Your job is not to reconcile differences. Your job is to know them and develop a plan comprehensive enough to honor them.
4. Understand your client. Hearing is not enough. You must understand. To understand, you must listen -- actively. Active listening means listening to understand, not to respond. Park your thoughts. You can come back to them. Listening in order to understand is one of the greatest services you can offer your clients.
5. Put purpose first. Your technical expertise makes you shine at offering solutions. But this expertise can also create blinders. You may be too quick to hear objectives and match them with methods. This challenge is exacerbated by clients' expectations that you want to hear their goals, and their lack of understanding of what their true goals are.
The purpose is the meaning, significance, or "why" behind the client's goal. Once their purpose is known, the true goals can be determined. What to do and how to do it will then follow.
6. Embrace resistance. Do you have clients who have yet to implement their plan in some way? Indeed, we've all been there. Investigate the disconnect behind the procrastination. It could be a warning sign that an important part of their purpose has not been met, or that they have lost sight of how the action steps promote their purpose.
7. Go wide. Your client is more than their financial assets. Each has social, intellectual and spiritual capital, as well. Capture and utilize those resources. Most Baby Boomers and their parents are more concerned with leaving an emotional inheritance than a financial one. Help them plan for these priceless assets, too.
8. Address the elephants. Addiction. Entitlement issues. Resentments. Unprepared heirs. As their trusted advisor, you know the issues that linger and drain life from your clients. Money won't solve these. Indeed, it often makes them worse. Listen as clients speak about the issues. Engage them in exploring options. Do not ignore the elephants merely because they are outside your expertise.
9. Do no harm. Know the limits of your expertise. Know when to refer or bring in an expert. Connect them with resources and encourage them to press on to address known challenges.
10. Collaborate. Embrace the wisdom and expertise of others. Communicate openly with your clients' other advisors. Exchange ideas and seek to reach consensus before sharing recommendations with your client. Meet jointly with your client and their advisors. The return on this investment will be increased clarity of communication, greater efficiency, and client appreciation for a streamlined process.
Matthew Halloran, MS, Certified Coach, is the president and founder of Top Advisor Coaching, which coaches advisors to become the best they can be by using their own skills, tools, and talents.