Starting Client Relationships the Right Way: 4 Questions to Ask

One of the hardest parts of any business that operates in financial planning is getting your clients to tell you what they want. Consider this situation: You’ve had multiple meetings with a prospective client talking about your financial management services, but nothing seems to stick. They’re warm, but they won’t sign.
Investors just need to be asked the right questions.
Without a doubt, there are three surefire questions that investment advisors and financial planning professionals should ask prospective clients right away to get a firm footing on the client relationships right away. Sure, you may run into road bumps along the way, but a strong foundation is the best way to get started. These questions can help you build that foundation out of the gate.
#1 Goal Setting
Ask your client what their number 1 goal is. Maybe they need to prepare for retirement, maybe they’re already retired and need to focus on succession planning for their estate. This is probably the standard for most financial planning/ management firms as-is, but it’s worth repeating. What is the thing that your client wants you to accomplish for them? Is it growing their investment assets? Is it estate planning and management? Retirement planning? Without asking, you’ll never know.
#2 How much Risk are you willing to take to achieve your goals?
It is critical for your clients and prospects to recognize that there is a trade of between risk and return. Use a risk profile questionnaire like AdvisoryWorld’s to help quantify how much risk an investor is willing to take as a measure of potential losses.
#3 What Does it Take to Prove You’re Successful?
This provides you with the opportunity to discuss what it means for your financial management firm and you: how are they judging you? What are the results that they want to see that will make them say ‘This is where I need to be’? What criteria are they using to assess your progress with their finances? This is just as, if not more, important as knowing what, exactly, your job is…because it determines how to approach the client and what tools you need to show that you’re successful with their goals in mind.
#4 What are any existing financial issues, if any?
Finally, the third question. This is the biggest one, in my humble opinion: “What are you willing to tell me about your problems?”
Most of the time, people are not inclined to tell you about the money problems, or the disagreements with asset allocation when it comes to their spouse, or the family politics surrounding the estate planning. Your top priority as a financial planner and wealth management adviser is to get your clients to be as truthful as possible because, in order for you to be effective, you have to understand the issues at hand. Even if a problem inside the client’s corporation has nothing to do with you, it may impede your work…and your relationship with the client.
Clients struggle answering that last question, of course. Most of the time, they don’t want to open up to their financial adviser. But it’s important to uncover these issues early because it gives you the tools you need to steer their financial goals the best you can in the direction they want to keep those client relationships strong.