As an adviser, what do you consider to be the most important activity in your work?
Most advisers, at least the ones I have spoken to, say their most valuable time (and the time they enjoy the most) is that spent with their clients.
This is when relationships can grow stronger, trust is deepened and there is the potential to have a significant impact on your client’s life.
As building relationships and creating value for clients is the core strength for many advisers, doesn’t it make sense to leverage it even more?
After all, if you focus on your weaknesses you just end up with strong weaknesses.
Peter Drucker, author of 39 books on business management, said: "If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it."
So, if you were going to measure the quality of your client meetings and the depth of your relationship, what would be your criteria?
An obvious way to measure can be the business conducted. In fact, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking: "They buy from me so everything must be fine."
But it is the things that are harder to measure that have equal, if not more, significance. Especially as current trends evolve.
Advising is moving away (or arguably for some, has moved away completely) from a purely transactional relationship. This is for a variety of reasons:
1) The fees for effecting transactional advice are coming down and the requirement for ever greater transparency is going up.
2) There will be increasing digital disruption to traditional advice models.
3) Regulation is evolving and will require advisers to have a deeper understanding of their clients, including the emotional drivers behind their decisions, rather than just hard facts alone.
4) Clients are looking for advice and guidance, but the focus is shifting towards helping them navigate and manage life transitions rather than simply managing investments.
So, what this means for advisers is a shift in approach to a combination of head and heart.
Advice is often treated as hard facts, as linear. It's summarised as number crunching and as technical and intellectual process, which, in part, it is.
However, as this is where some advisers are most comfortable, it's what they stick to like glue.
The problem is this approach is very one dimensional. If clients experience little or no emotional engagement, reflection and insight, there is little impact and the real issues can easily remain untouched.
How do you know if you are communicating from head or heart?
When we are communicating from our heads, we are doing a lot of thinking and this puts up a barrier to human connection.
The thinking that comes from our heads is full of preconceptions, assumptions and judgements. Interactions tend to be an exchange of information, transactional and outcome-driven.
A need to look like the expert can easily come across as condescending and it ends up weakening trust, not strengthening it.
When we communicate from the heart, we feel calm, clear and relaxed. Deep rapport and trust occur naturally. We are far more responsive to the client because our attention is fully on them, not on our own thoughts.
This is the foundation of presence and for your communication having real impact. To be effective at exploring soft facts, it can only be done at this level.
With an understanding of how the mind works, you instantly know when you are getting in your own way and easily return to presence and clarity.
Ultimately, the power to impact clients comes from being your true self, not the labels that we hide behind.