The Right Financial Advisor Questions - at the Right Time in Social Prospecting

The Right Financial Advisor Questions - at the Right Time in Social Prospecting

Boston: “You continually talk about the importance of asking questions, do you have a list of questions in any of your materials?” asked Taylor during a break in our Rainmaking workshop.

As I explained to Taylor, the intent of this list is to familiarize you with the different levels of questions and the typical objective for each level.  I also made it clear that rarely do these 3 levels of questions occur in one conversation; they may happen over days, weeks or even months.  Obviously, this is a very incomplete list.  Think of these 3 levels of questioning as a progression for your social prospecting.  


Level 1: General Rapport Building Questions

Situation: When you first meet a potential prospect.

Strategic Intent: The primary objective of Level 1 questions is to initiate a natural conversation that fully engages your prospect.  These questions are crafted in a fashion that predisposes your prospect to talk.  Your job is to proactively listen, and then find another opening to ask another question.  The more you are able to get a prospect talking about themselves, the more likely you are to develop healthy rapport

Level 1 Financial Advisor Example Questions:

  • How long have you been involved with the (name of fundraiser, charitable event, civic organization, social, etc.)___________? 
  • How did you initially get involved (charitable, fundraiser, civic group)?
  • Are you from around here?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Tell me about your parents. 
  • You look like you’re in good shape, what do you do for exercise?
  • Tell me about your family.  How many children do you have? How old are your children? What are your children involved with?
  • How is the XYZ industry right now?
  • What’s the most exciting part of your job?
  • I love that (piece of jewelry, watch, tie, scarf, suit, purse, etc.), where did you get it?
  • So, what do you think about (fund raiser, social event, etc.)?
  • How did you two meet (couple or husband and wife)?
  • How did you get interested in (music, sport, vocation – any topical theme)?


Level 2: Window of Opportunity Questions

Situation: You’ve established rapport and a level of mutual trust with your prospect.

Strategic Intent: The idea is to build on information you gathered while rapport-building and gently probe into their situation to find potential opportunities. 

Level 2 Financial Advisor Example Questions:

  • What sort of adjustments have you made to your financial plan to prepare for volatility?
  • Who does your estate planning?
  • Are you planning to play a lot of golf in retirement?
  • Are your children in school locally?
  • Where are your children planning to attend college?
  • What are your plans are for leaving the business?
  • How has business been lately?
  • Sorry to hear about the divorce.  Have you met with your attorney?
  • What is your primary source of investment information?
  • What is your transition plan? (change in job status; sold business, retired or changing jobs)
  • What’s your plan for incorporating your new grandchild (name) into your generational planning?
  • How often do you meet your financial advisor face-to-face?


Level 3: Specific Financial Need Questions

Situation: You’ve already broken the ice and have begun to talk business with your prospect

Strategic Intent: Your goal is to build on the trust that’s allowed you to engage in a business conversation.  Level 3 Questions are designed for you to mini-close for a serious business meeting in your office.  Your objective is to review your prospect’s entire financial picture to the extent that you’re able to craft a proposal and mini-close for their business.

Level 3 Financial Advisor Example Questions:

  • Have you ever had a risk analysis conducted on your portfolio?
  • Have you ever had a second set of eyes look at your portfolio?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your will?
  • Does your CPA meet with your financial advisor to assess the tax efficiency of your portfolio?
  • When was the last time you had your will updated?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your trusts?
  • When was the last time you had your insurance policies reviewed by an outside source?
  • Are you comfortable with the cost structure of your portfolio?
  • Do you know the cost structure of your portfolio?
  • How much of your portfolio is weighted in real estate?
  • How would you describe your risk tolerance?
  • Do you feel as though your portfolio is properly diversified?
  • How did your portfolio handle the volatility during the depths of the financial crisis?
  • Do you have a potential inheritance in the future?  Have you addressed the tax implications?


The secret is to approach social prospecting in affluent circles with strategic intent.  Understanding the progression of questions and preparing questions in advance is part of the process.   Remember, all 3 levels of questions rarely occur in one conversation.



Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Centure Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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