Investors may initially turn to financial advisers for help in managing their finances but converting them into long-term clients means listening to their stories and connecting to what’s important in their lives, women advisers said Thursday.
“Relationships over transactions: Keep that in mind,” Reshell Smith, founder and chief executive of Ames Financial Solutions, said at the InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit in Naples, Florida. “It will keep your book of business intact.”
Clients may not just pour out their aspirations and fears about their finances. Jean Fidone-Schroer, director of business development at Edwards Wealth Management, recommends that advisers engage in an appreciative inquiry.
“Ask a lot of open-ended questions,” she said. “Let them tell you how they feel.”
Then repeat back their answers during the conversation, she said. This kind of discussion is more interactive than didactic.
“It’s the coaching method, not the expert method,” Fidone-Schroer said.
Keena Pettijohn, founder and chief executive of Lifelogixs Strategic Consultancy Group, said advisers can best help their clients through conversations that explore their “transitions, milestones, peaks and pits.”
Pettijohn encouraged the audience, which was made up almost entirely of female advisers, to practice “SME” when talking to clients. Advisers should be “sympathetic, meaningful and empathetic,” listen actively and be genuine in telling their own stories and encouraging clients to share theirs, she said.
Strong communication skills also are important in pursuing market segments. Advisers should concentrate on one or two areas that really motivate them when building a specialty practice.
“Your niche should be what you’re passionate about,” said Melissa Loner, executive vice president for adviser services at Premier Wealth Management. “Being your authentic self is most important.”
Susan Washburn, senior financial planner at ProVise Management Group, has built a niche focusing on widows. Creating a community requires interpersonal aptitude and “being able to connect with people,” she said.
If advisers can find a niche, it can pay off on their bottom line.
“Riches are in niches,” said Renee Baker, head of private client group adviser inclusion networks at Raymond James.
Although investment advice and financial planning can involve a fair amount of math, that’s not the most important skill for the profession, Loner said.
The psychology classes she took in college may have been the best preparation she received to work in the advice sector, she said. “You have to have that ability to communicate.”
The summit itself was an opportunity for women advisers to tell their own stories and absorb lessons from others’ journeys in the profession.
“Women need to support ourselves,” said Reina Schlager, a financial adviser who spoke on one of the conference’s panels. “We need to learn to be collaborative.”
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