Financial professionals are often eager to gain new clients but less keen on asking for referrals. By focusing on emotionally connecting with their current clients, advisers may be able to generate more organic word-of-mouth recommendations.
Think about the service providers you frequent and recommend to others. Most likely, it's those who have taken the time to get to know you better — who ask you about the people and causes that you hold dear. Why should it be any different with your clients?
Every adviser must inquire about the basics in order to be able to conduct business: the names of a spouse or children, the company a client works for, any other real estate owned, etc. Some advisers make the mistake of stopping there. An adviser's desire to just "get down to business" may preclude them from making emotional connections that can help grow their business.
Listen, learn, repeat
In a meeting, some advisers would rather ask first about a client's wealth than their health, but which shows more of an interest in the client's well-being? Good advisers also understand that they should listen more than they talk. The key is to ask the right questions and to know when to dig deeper.
When a client mentions where they went to college, ask if they keep in touch with anyone from school. When they talk about a vacation, inquire with whom the client went. When they say they've joined the board of a nonprofit, ask how they became involved with that cause. This isn't snooping — it's better understanding the client's emotional attachments, which allows you to help them plan more appropriately. Taking notes can help you recall details and make future touch points more personal.
Make a lasting impression
The best way to have clients remark to others about you is to do something remarkable. One such opportunity is through unique client events and experiences that show you care enough to really listen. Perhaps your client mentioned they have a gluten allergy. Consider having your next meeting at that new brewery or restaurant that has plenty of options suitable for that client's diet. Have a client who's trying to lose weight?
Most advisers sit a lot — why not suggest you go for a hike together? If your client is doing a fundraising walk, instead of just donating, why not join them on the track? By going above and beyond what clients expect, you show you value your relationship and increase the chance they want to tell others about it.
Keep it all in the family
Most clients not only want to leave a legacy for their families, but they also want to know that their adult children and grandchildren will make good financial decisions with any inherited wealth. Perhaps a parent's strongest emotion for a child other than love is concern for that child's future well-being.
By showing your interest in helping the family's younger generation, you deepen the relationship with your client because you care about what they care about. Offering to act as a sounding board and to be available as a general resource to the family can help you meet them under favorable circumstances, increasing the chance they become future clients.
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It's clear that going beyond business can benefit both the investor and the adviser. By learning more about a client's life, financial professionals can better understand their specific financial needs and help the client make more informed investing decisions. Just as important, emotionally connected clients are more likely to make word-of-mouth referrals to their family and friends, thereby helping the financial professional grow their business.
Ryan Sullivan is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors.