Clients and emotional financial decisions: How do you tell someone their baby is ugly?Article added by Rich Jarvis on September 13, 2012
Joined: August 17, 2012
Ranked: #77 (843 pts)
As each of us strives to do what is right for the client, we will often find ourselves in the position of being able to make a great difference with those we serve. When those opportunities present themselves, may we all do a better job of effectively communicating with them.
How do you tell someone their baby is ugly? Well, obviously, if we have any sense at all, we wouldn't even go there. There are
times, however, when this relates to our clients and the financial industry more than you might think.
First of all, our clients come to us with beliefs and emotions tied to their financial decisions. In developing our relationship with them, we begin to learn more about who they are and what they want to accomplish and become. We learn more about their financial picture as we seek to understand their goals and dreams, obstacles and challenges and their needs and wants.
As the discovery of the client's financial world unfolds, sometimes it becomes apparent that what they have been doing is not in their best interest. In a number of cases, it may even be dramatically affecting their future wealth.
To make matters worse, the client could even be emotionally attached to the very thing that is hurting them financially. In a sense, this emotional decision could be considered their "baby."
So, how do you tell someone their baby is ugly?
Although we might want to call it like it is, immediately offering up our convictions may not be the best way to go. Proclaiming, "That is sure a dumb thing to do" or "No one who knows anything about money would ever do that" does not go a long way in winning friends and influencing people. In reality, it could have the same results as calling their baby ugly and could be quite offensive. But what do you do if that darn baby is ... well ... ugly?
How can you respond in a way that will encourage the client to want to continue the conversation and discover for themselves the strategies they have been using may not be in their best interest? In addition, how could we ask in a way that would continue cultivating a working relationship while being sensitive to their feelings?
The client can be disarmed and become open to conversation by asking the simple question I learned from Don Blanton: "If what you thought to be true turned out not to be true, when would you want to know?"
If someone asked you that question, how would you respond? I don't believe that many people would say, "I know what I am doing is wrong, but I'm sticking to it".
Regardless of the issue, it would seem to me that most people stick to what they are doing because they believe it is the best thing for them to do. They simply may not know better.
So again, I ask you, "If what you thought to be true turned out not to be true, when would you want to know?" Right now!
This question works with virtually every topic. If the client is currently contributing to their qualified plan in a way that may not be in their best interest, ask them the question.
If the way in which the client is paying off their mortgage may not be in their best interest, ask, "If what you thought to be true about mortgages turned out not to be true, when would you want to know?" Whatever the financial issue, this question does a remarkable job in engaging the client in productive dialogue.
I have heard it said many times that we are in the belief changing business. Many people have a misconception of life insurance, savings, investments — the financial industry as a whole. It is our responsibility to help the client understand true principles about money and have the conversations that change their belief system. We didn't wake up one morning magically knowing all that we know today — it takes time. The same is true with our clients. It is our privilege and responsibility to walk the client down their own path of discovery to learn the truth of how money works.
As each of us strives to do what is right for the client, we will often find ourselves in the position of being able to make a great difference with those we serve. When those opportunities present themselves, may we all do a better job of effectively communicating with them. If the time comes that we discover their baby is ugly, don't just call it as it is. Instead, ask: "If what you thought to be true turned out not to be true, when would you want to know?"
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