Although there are any number of skills and qualities a good financial planner should have, being trustworthy is the single most important characteristic for most clients. People place their hard-earned money in your hands and expect you to take care of it. Without trust from your peers, clients and employers, you cannot build your business. Trust not only means showing clients you are interested in helping them build wealth. You must also prove that you have the skills and expertise to deliver the goods.
Most of your clients come to you for advice about how to increase their savings while planning for retirement. Very often, that means you have to give them advice on their current lifestyles. Clients who use too much credit, for example, might need to be taught how to pay off debt so they can save more money. Proper guidance is one of the hallmarks of a successful financial advisor, which means you might have to help clients put off retirement for a few years or postpone big vacation plans. To get them to follow your suggestions, you must build trust in the relationship so they are comfortable with your advice and suggestions.
Clients rely on you to make sure they can retire comfortably and not have to eat dog food to make ends meet. They look to you to advise them on the best investments to make their retirement dreams come true. That means finding out clients’ level of risk tolerance, guiding them to the investments that meet their needs and goals, while also looking for options that increase their wealth. It’s often a balancing act, but that’s why clients trust you to make those recommendations.
Clients need to trust that you have their best interests at heart. Many people are leery of the advice they receive from financial advisors because they think you’re only in the profession for the fees and commissions you earn off their investments. If clients don’t believe you are genuinely interested in helping them secure their futures, they aren’t going to follow your advice or heed your warnings. This could lead to missed investment opportunities and clients who are unprepared for a comfortable retirement. Clients follow your recommendations and sleep better at night knowing you are doing the best you can so they can have the life they want.
You can build trust by maintaining open and regular communication with clients. Make sure they know about your credentials and experience. Keep them informed of movement in the markets and how their investments are being affected. Talk about the latest financial news with clients so they don’t panic when bad news seems to dominate the headlines. Be clear and upfront about your fees and how you earn your living. Talk to your clients personally and don’t leave all communication to your assistant if you want to maintain the trust that you work so hard to build.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."