Jan 02 2023
How to communicate effectively with your clients
By Megan Gan
Harnessing strong communication skills is imperative when it comes to building a successful career as a financial advisor. When you have good communication skills, you listen effectively, solve problems, identify areas of growth, and maintain strong client relationships.
Ryan Lau Le An, a four-year MDRT member from Malaysia, with one Court of the Table and two Top of the Table qualifications, shares his experience on how he mastered communicating with clients effectively.
Let your personality come through
Being personable entails providing your clients with a behind-the-scenes look about yourself, letting them know how you got started and what you have done over the years to get to where you are today. He believes one should share about themselves both personally and professionally first before proceeding with the finances. Lau says that it might be jarring to jump straight into selling plans when speaking to the client.
Lau explains that before meeting clients he lists out several topics of conversation he can use on clients as a back-up. He mostly uses common experiences to build engagement, posing questions like “Are you travelling anywhere soon for the holidays? I am planning to visit as well”, “Have you heard of this new restaurant that recently opened? If you get the chance, you should check it out” and “Any plans for the weekend?”.
“Financial advisors need to have interpersonal skills to be engaging with the client. It helps you to relax when talking and let your personality shine. When you let down your guard, your client will let theirs down too. This allows for better communication.” Lau suggests this would help retain the client, as well as their attention, and allow them to feel at ease.
Listening, being genuine and paying attention to body language are imperative, according to Lau, allowing financial advisors to connect with clients on a deeper level. “Being authentic and allowing client to know more about you helps them trust you more, in addition, it builds customer loyalty.” Lau adds.
Listen to what your client is saying
The importance of communication skills has as much to do with listening to other people as it is about putting forth your own thoughts.
Good financial advisors are the best listeners, according to Lau. They can recall relevant details that were mentioned earlier in conversation and are consistently in-tune with the client's emotions. This prevents the client from having to repeat information which adds friction to the service experience. A tip for active listening is to repeat the matter or problem back to your client to ensure both sides fully understand the issue, he says. This shows the client that as a financial advisor, you are invested and have a clear understanding of the problem.
Also, paying attention to what your client is saying enables us to be empathetic and look at things from their point of view. Lau says, “Learn to pay attention and listen to what others are saying and they will do the same for you once they feel you have their full attention. When there is equal attention from both sides, it creates an open line of communication.”
Be prepared for what you are going to say
As the saying goes, think before you speak. Lau believes most of us work effectively when we have time to process our own thoughts and opinions before we share them with others. “No client would like to attend a meeting in which the financial advisor isn’t prepared for.”
He advises to have your talking points ready. For a crucial presentation, practice the conversation with a close friend or peer so you can get rid of any potential mistakes and make adjustments accordingly.
Identify the Decision Maker
As financial advisors speak with their clients, it is crucial to identify who is the head of the family, or its “chief financial officer”, as Lau puts it. This means to find out who is the sole decision maker of the family.
“Rather than guessing, we should ask our clients directly so that we can be certain of the answer. By doing so, it would allow us to speak to the decision maker and help us save a great amount of time. This will get things moving much faster.”
Becoming an effective communicator can help you feel understood and enable you to address the needs of your clients better. Communicating in terms of discussing problems, requesting for information, scheduling meetings are all practice in improving your communication skills. “Do not think that any information that clients share is redundant, as they might come in handy one day,” Lau adds.