Financial planners have often been met with suspicion from potential clients and referral sources – the general perception is that they are self-serving, pushing the products that will get them the highest commission, and not really working with the client’s best interests at heart. With all the media attention on the Royal Commission into the finance sector at the moment, financial advisers have their work doubly cut out for them to build trust!
Of course, we know that financial planners are an important piece of the finance puzzle and that – the same as any other industry – there are a mix of dishonest or incompetent people and there are people who are extremely knowledgeable and motivated by their clients’ highest good. I would assume that most financial advisers got into their line of work because they were inspired by strategies that can change the trajectory of a person’s life, and because they wanted to educate people about goal setting and planning for wealth, rather than just helping them pay off debt.
From what I’ve seen, financial advisers are a social, personable bunch. But with the brick wall of current public perception to smash through, how do truly caring and capable professionals in this industry achieve great referral partnerships and a strong client base?
I believe personal branding is one major part of the equation. Knowing how to articulate what sets you apart and what value you can bring to clients and partners is the first step in any marketing exercise! But to test my theory, I went along to an industry event this week – the Association of Financial Planners’ Genxt Ales and Tales, hosted by Wealthwise Financial Planning in Perth.
Turns out successful financial advisers place a great importance on how they come across to potential clients, and in how clearly they demonstrate their value proposition. This is what a professional ‘personal brand’ is all about.
Speakers Brad Smith, Director at Wealth Partners, and Michael Ward, Director at Maxim Private Wealth, provided some great take-aways to get the audience thinking about personal branding and building authentic relationships:
Understand that the major difference between one advisory and the next is really the people within it.
That’s why clearly demonstrating your personal values, your particular approach to your work and the expertise that you bring is so important.
To make people feel that you understand them, be relatable.
For some, building rapport through chatting with people is a natural talent. For those who find it harder, there are things you can do to help you connect meaningfully with a potential client. Suggestions that came from the speakers and the audience included sharing a bit about yourself, keeping good notes on the personal details of those who enquire with you, build an arsenal of ‘good news stories’ to relate where they illustrate how you can help someone, and even consider a short course in counselling – since so much of your job is really about engaging with people’s private lives!
Make a great impression and be remembered by finding ways to interact meaningfully with referral partners.
If you have a loose connection with an accountant or two, but are frustrated by the lack of referrals when you know their clients would be a perfect fit with you, think about ways you can demonstrate what you can do for them.
A term I use a lot in my consulting and seminars is ‘WIIFM’ – or ‘What’s In It For Me?’ – this is the bottom line for any prospect.
A term I use a lot in my consulting and seminars is ‘WIIFM’ – or ‘What’s In It For Me?’ – this is the bottom line for any prospect. If you can show the accountant how you can add value to clients and make her/him look good in the process, you will have the beginnings of a strong partnership.
In addition, you need to continue that ‘visibility’ – an example from last night’s presentation was to hold regular meetings with your referral partner where you present your most recent strategies used with clients. Over time, this builds the referral partner’s awareness of where you can help and keeps you top of mind. I’d like to add to that by suggesting a solid LinkedIn and networking strategy to skyrocket your visibility!
Hope these tips are helpful for #FinancialPlanning industry members who couldn’t make it a long to hear this terrific conversation about how to build great relationships with clients and referral partners.