MoneyQuotient in the USA recently cited a survey of 2000 financial planning clients conducted in late 2011 and reported that clients want planners who are able to navigate both the rational and emotional realms of their financial lives. The report went on to state that clients value empathic listening and the skills to facilitate communication on sensitive issues.
Bob Veres endorsed this with his highly quoted comment of “I think it’s obvious that the more relevant a financial planner’s services are to the life of a client, the more effective they will be and the more they will be valued. That seems axiomatic.”
Interestingly, this survey did not indicate that meeting face-to-face with a client actually increased significantly the level of trust that was engendered. What were more important were the empathy of the adviser and the relevance of the service.
So the question that needs to be asked is “Can financial advisers build a trusted relationship at a distance?” Stephen Covey’s book ‘The speed of trust’ definitely says YES. Trust is all about credibility and credibility for financial advisers is about::
- Integrity (Do you walk the talk?)
- Intent (What’s your motive/agenda?)
- Capabilities (Are you able to be relevant?)
- Results (What’s your track record for value/results?)
Think about these qualities for a moment and honestly ask yourself if you have delivered on all of these for your clients over the past five years. Look at how your business is portrayed via the internet and ask someone (other than yourself or an employee) whether these qualities are amply demonstrated via your website content.
Trust is not built up instantaneously in our industry. We have to earn it slowly over time. Relationship trust is all about consistent behaviour around things like:
- Talk straight
- Demonstrate respect
- Create transparency
- Right wrongs
- Show loyalty
- Deliver results
- Get better
- Confront reality
- Clarify expectations
- Practice accountability
- Listen first
- Keep commitments
- Extend trust.
We have to build a reputation for being trustworthy. We have to show we have credibility and that we can build relationships. However, nothing in the trust building process inherently requires a face-to-face connection.
I then thought about who I would regard as being the most trustworthy person in our industry. I then went and asked 10 of my friends the same question. The result was stunning. Seven out of the 10 all said Martin Hawes. For those of you who may not be familiar with Martin, he resides outside of Queenstown; charges a hefty (but value for money) fee for his advice; does not focus at all on the product solution (he sticks with the finology aspects of financial planning); often provides all the advice via Skype and Go to meetings; has published 20 books and sold over 250,000 copies; has a regular newspaper column; is on Facebook, and contributes to numerous blogs. None of the 10 surveyed had ever met Martin yet seven thought he was the most trustworthy and all ten had heard of him.
Martin Hawes is a shining example of someone who can build a business and become a trusted adviser and do it from afar. If he can do it then what do you need to do to transform your business so you can become a trusted adviser to more than just your existing client base?
For more information please contact David Greenslade at Strategi.