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Be a scientist


What have you done for me lately?

That question can put advisors on the defensive as many investors are seemingly focused on short-term returns.

To a large extent, focusing on the short-term is just a product of human nature. Yet the most successful advisors have learned to take their clients’ obsession with near-term portfolio performance in stride, and broaden the conversation to focus on longer-term goals.

Demonstrating that you truly understand the client and empathizing with his or her specific challenges is central to developing stronger bonds and, ultimately, acquiring those sticky assets.

So how, exactly, can one shift this conversation? Perhaps advisors should consider channeling their inner scientist.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, often considered the father of modern anthropology, once noted, “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; he’s the one who asks the right questions.”

Any advisor in this business for the long haul needs to ask the right question as a means to cement relationships and connect with clients and prospects. For starters, here are three key questions you can use to engage existing clients, demonstrate understanding and cement bonds:

  1. What three things do you want to make sure we discuss, accomplish, or achieve in our review sessions?
  2. What are your three biggest concerns in the current market environment?
  3. What are your three primary concerns with the money you currently have sitting in cash?

And in terms of finding new affluent clients—perpetually a challenge for advisors—asking the right questions can help separate you from the average advisor and demonstrate understanding and empathy. If you ask these questions in advance of your new client meeting, you might be surprised by the meaningful answers your prospects share and the depth of the conversation. Consider asking:

  1. What are three things that your current advisor does not know about your goals, dreams and desired legacy?
  2. Name three things that keep you up at night in regards to your financial picture today.
  3. Describe three things that you will like to accomplish for your family.

Remember, many clients, particularly the affluent, are working with more than one advisor. But when it comes time to consolidate assets, that client is likely to partner with the advisor who understands them best and can help them navigate the rest of their lives, not just next quarter’s performance. So be clinical and inquisitive. Ask the right questions and you might find yourself gathering assets and in that enviable position of most trusted advisor.