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Giving financial advice – 3 important steps

You no doubt put a great deal of time and effort into creating precisely the right advice for your clients but this alone does not guarantee it will be accepted and followed.

If you are interested in how to get increased buy-in to your recommendations then the steps outlined in this article will help you in this process.

I am sure you have seen or heard the KISS acronym. There seems to be several definitions but they all mean the same thing – keep it short and simple. The idea is to avoid unnecessarily complicating something by having too much detail or too many parts.

For instance, finances can be complex and well out of many peoples’ comfort zone. If a client is already feeling tense or apprehensive then failing to settle your client’s mind before proceeding to give advice is inviting problems – a bit like starting a car journey with a flat tyre.

Why people can switch off

The delivery of advice is equally as important as the content but it is something that can be easy to fall down on, if you do not take into account state of mind.

Let me share an example.

An adviser firm I worked with gives specialist financial advice to SME business clients.

When they met a new client they often found that the client’s finances were poorly organised and they were experiencing felt varying degrees of stress, worry and tension in this area.

The advisers process was to look at the current situation, help the client get clear on their outcomes and then take away their findings with an agreement to return with a detailed plan of their recommendations. So far, so good and all straight-forward stuff, you would think.

However, at the presentation stage, the advisers were often experiencing far more resistance and defensiveness from the clients than they were expecting or indeed wanted.

Despite their work being done diligently, accurately and with integrity some people would push back with lots of questions and reasons not to implement the changes and the advisers couldn’t understand why.

The essential key to high-quality meetings

The solution turned out to be in something that most people wouldn’t consider and yet it is highly relevant to anyone who gives professional advice.

High-quality meetings are about the tone, not just the content.

The tone, meaning the feeling in a meeting, is critical to conducting meetings of the highest quality. When people are in a clear mind, calm and relaxed you can be pretty sure that the meeting will be successful. If, on the other hand, people feel tense, intimidated, insecure, discouraged or fearful you can be pretty sure that it will be a poor meeting.

What transpired was that the large, detailed report they were taking to their meetings and, consequently, all the thinking they were asking people to do was lowering the tone.

Without realising it, they were over-complicating things, people felt even more intimidated and this was why there was push-back and resistance.

There was nothing wrong with the work at all. It was the way it was being presented that was the problem. With three very simple adjustments, the problem was eradicated and they got increased buy-in to their recommendations.

  1. The advisers realised that it was essential for clients to be in a calm, clear and present state of mind. Their first step was to make absolutely sure that they cleared their minds and were ready to give their full attention to the meeting and the client. As the professional person, you have to go there first because people will often pick up on how you feel.

  2. They paid close attention to the clients and did what was necessary to make sure they felt comfortable and ready to receive their recommendations. Also, throughout the presentation, they were sensitive to the level of engagement of the client and did what was necessary to keep the energy in the right place. For instance, sometimes the way things are said can lower the tone. If this happened they counteracted it by re-stating it in a more positive way.

  3. They cut down their report to just one page with a small number of key suggestions. This made it manageable for the client and allowed the advisers to roll out their recommendations at a comfortable pace.

The human factor is the key to successful meetings

Whilst numbers, data and analytical ability are, of course, important it is easy to forget that hard results are achieved through the level of trust, rapport, and the quality of the relationships you create.

Some advisers may think that paying attention to their own and their clients state of mind and how they feel is ‘soft’ or ‘touchy-feely’. However, state of mind, both ours and our clients, is involved in absolutely everything that we do.

When we appreciate the difference between healthy thinking and unhealthy thinking then we can factor in what is necessary to create an environment that produces great results with ease.

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