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Seven Questions Clients Wish Their Financial Advisors Would Ask

To truly understand a client’s goals, you have to truly understand the client.

By Matthew Regan

Financial advisors need an edge. As the industry changes, the battleground for keeping and growing a book of business is being fought on two connected fronts – providing a better wealth experience and deepening client relationships.

Winning this battle starts with asking clients great questions.

For too many advisors, early interactions with clients amount to little more than fact finding. They ask cursory questions from a checklist or ask clients to fill out a standard risk tolerance questionnaire. Even those who claim to use a goals-based approach often fail to develop a real strategy for these meetings.

In fact, asking great questions should be the centerpiece of early conversations with a client. Great questions give advisors a glimpse beyond a client’s goals, into his or her personality, priorities and preferences. These essential elements allow advisors to personalize the service they provide and adapt as client needs and expectations shift.

Great questions spur great conversations

There are three broad ways to facilitate a better wealth experience for clients:

  • Ask open questions. Avoid yes and no questions as much as possible. Dig a little deeper by asking “why do you feel that way” or “how do you mean?”
  • Get personal. Connecting and building a relationship will be different with every client. It’s why so many advisors default to generic checklists and questionnaires. But goals are personal – so advisors must be, too.
  • Be an active participant. A great wealth experience is a two-way conversation, not a one-way interrogation. Engage in the conversation by sharing details about your own life, asking follow-up questions and reacting honestly to what the client says.

With these best practices in mind, here’s a closer look at seven questions clients wish advisors would ask them. These questions are not intended to replace due diligence when it comes to understanding a client’s holistic financial picture. Numbers alone just don’t tell the whole story. 

Matthew Regan is president of Wealthcare.

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