Have you ever been tempted to offer advice early on in a client meeting? The client might even ask you direct “What do you suggest?”. You know what they need, or at least you think you do, and before long you’ve offered a ‘quick-fix’ solution to their situation. The client may be happy, and thank you for your help, but will it last? Or will they realise later that your recommendations didn’t quite fit their needs? OK, the word ‘crime’ may be a bit strong – and I do believe there are times that giving advice is exactly the right thing to do: but not until you have a full understanding.
What compounds this problem is that you feel under pressure to give advice and solve problems. Your client is looking to you for answers, yet the best approach is to maintain your attention on them, their needs, hopes and dreams.
Investigating the Person
The problem starts when you feel compelled by that pressure to deliver answers. Yet you’ll know that you don’t offer a one size fits all approach. Understanding your client is the key to offering well thought out options from which they can choose, act and feel that they own.
Using coaching skills, you can tease out the underlying thoughts and needs of your client, what’s important to them and how they make decisions. If they talk about problems, resist the temptation to fix, and focus more on understanding how those issues affect your client.
Crime Prevention Tactics
David Hemery (1968 Olympic Gold Medallist, 400m hurdles and Coach) gives great advice for coaching conversations: “In every conversation, purse your lips ready to form the words: what, where, when or who. Because, if you start with an open question you can easily shift to telling later, if that is necessary. It is much harder to move from a directive conversation (where you have the answers) into a coaching conversation, because the listener has already let go of their responsibility to solve the problem”.
At the start of your client meetings, it helps to be very clear about your role and how you intend to help your client. This sets a memorandum of understanding from which exploratory talks are understood to be part of the process, and from which sound, sensible advice will emerge.
Prepare yourself to start every conversation with open questions to reveal more relevant information. This helps to defer any compulsion to solve, and leaves responsibility with the client.
Resist the temptation to offer the quick fix, no matter how tempting. 99% of the time it will be inappropriate to offer advice early in a client meeting. Take time, ask questions, listen and then draw on your expertise to offer appropriate, pertinent advice.
If you would like to access online resources to help hone your coaching skills, please take a look at Quiver Management’s new virtual courses and webinars for financial advisers, or take a look at their new series of vlogs on the Quiver Management YouTube channel.