8 tips for working with high-net-worth clients
By Paul Wilson
Andrea Blackwelder, CFP, ChFC, co-founder of Wisdom Wealth Strategies in Denver, Colo., has worked with all types of clients over the years. But at this point in her career, she says "working with affluent people and the complex situations they bring is where it gets really fun.”
Here are eight tips she shared about working with the high-net-worth crowd:
Tip No. 1: Knowledge and education pay off.
Become a comprehensive planning expert so you can speak with them about a range of topics and recognize when issues or opportunities arise." I don’t prepare taxes; I don’t do estate planning, but I’m knowledgeable in them so they don’t need a complete team of resources and have one person who has a good knowledge of all those different areas."
Tip No. 2: It's not about you.
You have to take yourself out of the equation. You can’t have an ego. It has to be about them and their needs, first and foremost.
Tip No. 3: Tell them exactly what you want.
Be specific when you ask for referrals. "Tell clients about the types of people you can help and who fit your skill set. Ask to work with people who have the ability to improve their financial situation and test your skills."
Tip No. 4: Communication is key.
You have to be really good at communicating with people, making them feel comfortable, making them feel it’s OK to share things that society says you don’t talk about, like money and debt. So, having the ability to get them to open up a little bit is important.
Tip No. 5: Find a niche.
Blackwelder has found that she works especially well with pilots and engineers. “There’s something about my mentality and my personality that appeals to them. They’re in a very tight network of people and when they’re happy with my work, word gets around.”
Tip No. 6: Organize targeted events.
Rather than having an event for all of my clients, I’ll have very small, targeted events. I haven’t had a lot of success hosting a happy hour and inviting all the clients. I don’t think they feel special. Where if you have a very targeted event, they know each other, they know who’s going to be there, they’re comfortable and they feel special because you planned for them.
Tip No. 7: They aren't that different.
They don’t need marble floors; they don’t need leather upholstery; they don’t need your office to be special and fancy. They may be a bit more sophisticated but at the end of the day, they still want great service, they still want to be treated as a unique individual, they still want personalized attention, they will want to know you have their best interest at heart.
Tip No. 8: Don't be a product pusher.
Become out-of-the-box and solution-oriented, not sales-oriented. Because these people have seen every sales strategy you’re ever going to try. They’re looking for guidance, for creating a team approach, not being sold an annuity or a product or a life insurance policy or anything like that. You’re the product.