Those Crucial First Five Minutes – Don’t Assume…

In Part 1 of this series about the first five minutes of client meetings, I discussed the importance of “setting the context of the meeting” to effectively take control  of important client engagement and progress meetings.

The focus of Part 2 and second crucial component of those first vital five minutes of each meeting is about “not making assumptions”.

There’s a new financial planning firm nearby my office with a sign on their front window, saying something like “…come in and find out how we are different.”

If you want your financial advice to stand out and be different from others, you have to go a little further than the start made by my new neighbour.  

You’ve got to tell your clients subtly and continually that you are different just before you take them on your ‘different’ path.

I believe you start doing exactly that in the first five minutes of your meeting and every conversation you have with them until such time your approach isn’t different any more as consumers come to expect your approach as the professional approach  compared to most product or compliance or sales approaches of many of today’s financial advisers.

Observing great advice firms do this I’ve seen them continually reminding their clients not to make assumptions about:

  • how meetings are conducted and the range of questions asked;
  • how they charge for their services;
  • how they provide value for money.

It’s not as if financial planning and wealth management advice is new. Australians seeking advice have probably formed many assumptions about how to go about getting advice and the sort of advice they believe they need.

Starting with Why…

For instance, one of the big assumptions to break down is to take the initial focus of advice meetings away from what (i.e. particular product or service) the client says they are seeking until it is clear why that particular product or service might be relevant. Challenging this assumption is one of the fundamental reasons why Simon Sinek’s message is so popular.

To differentiate yourself and your approach, consider saying something like the following in the first five minutes of your next meeting with an advice client (or prospect):

It helps if you can park any preconceptions or assumptions about what we might do and how we might engage until we determine why it makes sense for you and for our firm to engage in an on-going advice relationship.

That is, I believe for you to effectively do your work as a professional financial adviser, it helps to ‘set the scene’ early (and often) which helps to differentiate your approach, and your value. By actively steering your initial conversations and focus away from any ‘traditional’ product approach by the majority of advisers, it helps the flow of the meeting when you initially want the entire focus to be on the client, the outcomes they seek, and the significance of those outcomes to them.

One final point about the assumptions that invisibly flow through our client conversations:

Be aware of your own assumptions about your client.

Regardless of the years of knowledge and experience you may have with a long (or short) term client, resist the urge to assume you know what you need to do for them every year. Rather consider every major annual review meeting as an opportunity for a new ‘discovery’ meeting to best ensure the assumptions you hold today are not clouding undiscovered aspirations they desire or complexities to be overcome in their financial lives.

Advice is going to be different in 2015 and beyond.

Don’t assume that last year’s approach will bring the prosperity you and your clients deserve.

What do you reckon about the assumptions we take into every client meeting…?

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About Jim Stackpool

For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.

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