Updated Thursday, July 24, 2014 as of 2:27 AM ET
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Want the Right Clients? Ask the Right Questions
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
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Have you built the kinds of systems and procedures into your business that will give your clients a consistently great experience? 

Your relationships with professionals in fields such as law, tax and insurance form an expert team that can examine a client’s financial situation from a number of different viewpoints, making sure that all the advice you give your client is coordinated. 

In addition, your discovery process uncovers your clients’ needs, concerns and goals and lets you put their financial issues in the context of their life. 

At Loring Ward we use our 360 Discovery Process to help advisors gather information that engages clients and helps them clarify what they want their money to do for them. Rather than just asking questions about a client’s financial condition, 360 Discovery helps the advisor engage in a structured conversation with the client. Once the primary client issues are identified, the advisor can determine what financial resources the client has (or may have in the future) to realize their goals or to mitigate their concerns. 

But it’s just as important to have a process for potential clients to at least determine that they meet the minimum financial requirements of the firm.  Adopting an effective “pre-discovery” or “pre-qualification” process will help you avoid spending time with prospects who aren’t a good fit for your firm.

In a short phone conversation, you can obtain the information you need to determine whether it makes sense to schedule a discovery meeting with the client.  These five questions can serve as the basis for your pre-qualification process:

  1. “Tell me about your current financial situation.”  An open-ended question such as this should provide you with a general overview of their investable assets or net worth without needing to get into specifics.
  2. “What are you looking for an advisor to do for you?”  This question should allow you to get an understanding of the specific issues the prospect is looking to solve.  The answer will also give you an idea of the depth and breadth of the relationship the prospect is looking for.
  3. “What are your major concerns over the next one, five and ten years?”  This question, asked in conjunction with the first two questions, should provide you with a clear picture of their concerns, and the potential life issues that will drive your advice.
  4. “What do you worry about most when you think about your money?”  The answer may give you an insight into their emotional state as well as how literate they are when it comes to financial issues.
  5. “What made you decide to come to us for help?”  You may find that the prospect was referred to you by one of your existing clients, or perhaps a member of your expert team.  It may also allow you to briefly outline your value proposition and how they could benefit from working with your firm.  Firms that have a niche market can also use this answer to determine whether the prospect meets their ideal client profile.
Smartest Takeaways From the Women Advisors Forum

Adopting this pre-qualification process can help you more effectively manage your time and ensure that your prospect meetings are saved for those potential clients who fit your target market.

Steve Atkinson, EVP and Head of Advisor Relations, Loring Ward. Special thanks to Eric Golberg for his research and assistance.

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