The trust factor: How advisors can strengthen their bond with clients
By Anthony Vossenberg
Step back and remember why you are in this business. Some of the reasons are top-of-mind: you like people, you know your products and you like the unlimited earning potential. Others require some deeper thinking and self-examination.
When I look back at the years I spent in the field, I know I was fortunate to be successful and achieve my goals. In large part, my success was due to the strong relationships I was able to build with my clients. These relationships grew from casual meetings to long-lasting bonds. Bonds that were based on trust, which is earned and not given freely.
Trust is really about knowledge and time. In an age when trust levels for many professions are at the bottom of the totem pole — the most recent 2011 Gallup Honesty and Ethics survey placed car salespeople and stockbrokers among the lowest rated, just above members of Congress — step back and remember why you are in this business.
Some of the reasons are top-of-mind: you like people, you know your products, and you like the unlimited earning potential. Others require some deeper thinking and self-examination.
Do you spend enough time and frequency with your client?
Think about it. The more time you spend and the more frequently you see a person, the easier it is to establish a stronger relationship that can lead to trust.
It’s no surprise that, according to the same Gallup survey, people who spend the most time with medical patients, nurses, are the ones ranked the highest in trust, more so than doctors are. If you or a loved one have ever been in a hospital, you know this is true. The doctor whisks in and out generally once a day. The nurse is the one who is in your room, literally with a finger on your pulse. The nurse appears regularly for vitals, medication and assistance.
Which are you to your clients, the doctor or the nurse? The Genworth 2011 LifeJacketSM Study showed us that 66 percent of clients stated annual reviews and frequent communication were ways to build trust.
Do you keep your promises?
Are you prompt about getting back to a client with more information, scheduling a review, checking in on the new baby, the recent widow, or the parents of the bride? A LifeJacket survey question about building trust revealed half of respondents viewed following through on promises as the top criteria for building trust with their financial advisor or agents.
Are you talking to both partners?
Hello? Do you see that woman sitting next to your client? She is one-half of the couple and deserves to be part of the conversation.
Our research shows that far too often, agents/advisors talk to the male in the couple and bypass the female spouse or partner. Specifically, Genworth 2011 research, Selling Financial Services to Women, showed more than 60 percent of women surveyed who were asked if financial advisors focused their attention on men or women said the focus was on men. Only five percent said that women were the focus of the conversation. Clients surveyed say they trust their own advisor or agent. Do they trust you?
We were pleased to learn that the majority of LifeJacket respondents surveyed, 69 percent, said they trust their own advisor/agent. Thirty-four percent said that a recommendation from a friend or family member would, and does, help in building trust with advisor. However, the agent who is cold calling a stranger won’t have the advantage of established trust.
Do you ever say to a client, “In all honesty…”?
Let’s be honest. No, I mean honest. There is no need to tell your client that you are honest. Was everything else you said a lie?
This is a pet peeve of mine. It should become one of yours, too.
Are you really looking out for your client?
I am a firm believer that insurance is not one size fits all. You cannot cookie-cutter fit a product to a client. If you do, shame on you.
If you don’t have the right product for a client, say so. Be truthful.
I came upon the H.L Mencken quote, “For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together. Our friends seldom profit from us but they make us feel safe.”
I hope you can offer that sense of safety and protection to your clients by sharing your strengths, dedication and commitment.