I was recently asked to become The Verve Foundation’s Ambassador for Education and it’s one of my main goals to #BreakTheTaboo surrounding talking about money.
It’s a bit of a strange concept for me as, having started out in the financial services industry at the tender age of 20, it’s been a normal part of my life and something that I talk about a lot.
It’s a similar situation for most people in our industry to feel okay with the subject on some level, but how do clients feel about it? Are they comfortable talking about their money with an adviser, their family and friends?
Last year we posted a poll on LinkedIn and Twitter, asking for advisers’ thoughts on involving a client’s family in meetings. We had a lot of advisers respond to say they do include family – only a handful said they don’t feel it’s necessary – and nobody said the client didn’t want to invite them along. Obviously, this is on a very small scale and doesn’t represent the advice industry as a whole, but I found it very encouraging to hear that there is some involvement going on out there.
My personal opinion is that it’s important to include family in these discussions, if not only to normalise the subject. If you’re a young couple with a small child, wouldn’t it be beneficial to involve them in the conversations so that they have a basic understanding of savings, investments and pensions as they grow?
If your client is looking into equity release, it’s almost certainly advisable to involve the family in these discussions, as ultimately, it’ll be the loved ones who have to deal with the estate on death.
If you have a client approaching retirement and you’re working out how much they need to retire or to achieve their financial goals, perhaps the client would better articulate these if they had a close friend or family there supporting them?
If you’re an adviser reading this and you’re sat there nodding your head and agreeing with me, I have some thoughts on how you can start to adopt these principles into your client meetings and how to help ease clients into the idea:
1. Implement the offer into your processes
When you initially engage with a client, or when it comes to their annual review meeting, you could include a section in your meeting invitation inviting them to bring someone along. Perhaps a little paragraph explaining why you’re extending the invitation and a short summary of why you feel it’s important.
2. Ask questions
By asking more questions surrounding family and their involvement, you’ll be able to introduce the idea of involving them more easily. Some ideas could be:
- “How do you think your children would feel about dealing with your estate when the time comes?"
- “How can we help prepare them for the event?”
- “Does your partner understand what your protection policies are in place, and what to do in the event or your death or illness?”
- “Do you have anyone that you feel could help you open up about your financial goals and aspirations?”
3. Lead by example
If you want your clients to be more open about their finances, or you feel that everyone should be able to talk about money with a little more ease – lead by example: talk about your own experiences, write blog posts and newsletters focusing on the subjects so often avoided.
4. Create the right setting
Talking about money is something that a lot of people have been raised to feel ashamed of, so be mindful that some clients may feel emotional or defensive. Creating the right setting can really help relax a person and make them feel more open to the discussion.
5. Read body language
Involving others in the conversations may help the client feel more at ease, or it could make them feel more nervous. Keep an eye on their body language as this will indicate when it might be time to move onto a different subject, or to try and coach them into saying what’s on their mind.
6. Be open
You may be reading this as a sceptic, but try to open your mind to the concept – by helping a client feel more at ease with the conversations they need to have, you’re more likely to form a better relationship with that client… and their family. Succession planning anyone?
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