The core value proposition offered by many financial advisors is to serve and help clients solve their complex financial issues through financial planning. As an advisory firm grows, though, so too can the pressure to onboard more remunerative clients. These tensions can be heightened when a prospective high-net-worth client decides they don’t want comprehensive financial planning at all, and instead simply requests one specific service, such as portfolio management. This can create a dilemma for the advisor who wants to serve clients and help their business grow, as agreeing to only a part of the financial planning process, without fully understanding the client’s values and priorities, can feel antithetical to an advisor’s own core values… advisors need this understanding to create meaningful plans that clients can actually use to achieve their financial goals. Even though garnering enough business to maintain a healthy flow of revenue is important to any firm, it is also critically important not to compromise the values of the advisor and the firm!
In our 83rd episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss some steps advisors can take when a prospect objects to financial planning in general because they only want a particular service (e.g., investing their portfolio), how to gain a deeper understanding of why the prospective client doesn’t want financial planning in the first place, and how to understand the client’s goals and values so that the services that are provided to them align with what is most important to the client.
As a starting point, it’s important to understand that while guiding clients through a comprehensive data-gathering process can certainly lead to a good financial plan, some clients may consider the experience tedious, intrusive, and unenjoyable. This can possibly be due to prior experiences with financial advisors, negative associations that a client may make with their own financial challenges, or an unwillingness to divulge personal information with an advisor whom they may just be getting to know. In these instances, advisors can still help clients simply by having a candid conversation to learn about what’s important to the client and their reasons for seeking help with their money goals. Because without the clarity of the client’s deeper purpose, advisors might provide deliverables based solely on performance and not connected to the client’s own values, and even offer services that the client doesn’t even want or need, which can alienate the client from the relationship and eventually result in the advisor losing the client’s business.
However, by asking intentional, yet thoughtful questions to identify why the client wants help can be a great way not only to connect with a client but also to show the value of discussing and reaching financial goals, which can entice them to accept the financial planning process. Because ultimately, having conversations to really understand what’s important to a client doesn’t just help advisors do a better job servicing clients with what they really need (and want), it can also lead to more trust in the relationship, which helps build deeper and longer-lasting client relationships!