It’s no secret that high-net-worth clients can really bolster a financial professional’s business. So how does an advisor successfully engage this audience? In my experience, working with affluent clients requires a great amount of time, dedication, expertise and collaboration. From my 13 years in the financial profession, I have found five main areas that have helped me succeed in this market.
Affluent people feel most comfortable working with other affluent people, because this is a relationship business and having things in common helps build relationships. This could range from having common interests, hobbies, education, etc. All these things play a crucial role in the mind of the client. The more familiar we are with their background and interests, the more inclined they will be to build a relationship and thus work with you. Take a look at yourself to determine what parts of your life are congruent with their lifestyle.
In addition to feeling confident in the marketplace, we need to be comfortable being ourselves. If we don’t feel comfortable, neither will the client, and this will make it much harder to build a lasting relationship. The size of the case shouldn’t intimidate us or affect the quality of help we give. The most important thing is to focus on helping our clients achieve financial security.
Big cases simply come about as a result of solving big problems. What big financial problems do you feel most comfortable addressing? Are they estate planning scenarios or business owner issues? Are they extremely high-net-worth family income protection cases? Once we have clarity on the area in which we will most confident, we should take a look at our community to determine where we can add maximum value. Make a list of people who might have some of these big problems you can solve. We’ll need to look proactively for those who could benefit from our expertise, because big cases won’t just come to us.
Typically, high-net-worth clients work with an advisory team to get the proper guidance for legal and tax purposes. This means we need to be able to engage comfortably with certified public accountants and attorneys while being acknowledgeable and respectful of boundaries. A client wants to work with someone who has their best interest in mind – not a salesperson who is focused on closing the deal. During the meeting, steer clear of bringing up products and instead share the value you bring to the team. I’d suggest opening up the conversation by saying, “My role here today is to be a resource to you and your team in helping brainstorm how you can solve ...” If we come from that perspective, we will be regarded as a valued member of the team rather than an outsider trying to sell or push a product.
Last but not least, we must be an expert on all technical details that pertain to our area of expertise. One way to prepare for meetings effectively is to consider what types of questions might come up from each of the team members. We can directly reach out to the CPA or the attorney in advance to get clarification on what type of questions they might ask so that when we’re in front of the client, we are the expert. This will help ensure that our competency is never called into question. Simply ask, “I want to be as prepared as possible for our meeting next week. I anticipate that we will be discussing X, Y and Z; is there anything else you would like me to research for you in advance?”
If we feel comfortable and confident in each of the above five areas, we will be on our way to working successfully in the affluent market. There is nothing more important for the advisor than managing the client’s expectations, providing exceptional service and working as a team to protect them and their future generations.