Gone are the Days of “Just Sign Here”
To be honest, financial literacy month holds a special place in my heart and in my business as a financial advisor. For so many years, the financial industry has been burdened with the stereotype of being filled with knowledge that is unattainable, convoluted and – quite frankly – easier to ignore than to try and learn. When I first started private practice, my goal was to change this mentality, especially for young consumers just starting their careers and growing their adult lives.
To achieve this, I decided to structure my business around becoming an educator rather than a salesperson. Key to this was quickly establishing myself as an industry expert when it came to disability insurance, which is one of the more difficult forms of insurance to understand. With that knowledge secured, I was then able to dedicate my time to making disability insurance a part of many young professionals’ insurance portfolios and a component they fully understand. By focusing on education over sales, some commonalities have come to light when building client relationships, allowing me to identify four key components on what clients expect from an education-focused advisor:
- Everyone is an Expert at Something – As advisors, it is our job to understand in detail the products that best suit our clients and feel confident in providing our recommendations to them. At the same time, we must remember that our clients are also experts too, not only in their field of work, but in their personal needs. It is our duty to share our expertise, outlining each product we are recommending and explaining why that specific product is best for our clients’ portfolio.
- Encourage and be Confident Asking Questions – When I sit down with a client, I start by explicitly saying that our meeting is an open discussion, and that I welcome all questions. In my specific situation I know that disability insurance can be confusing, and I want my clients to feel comfortable right from the get-go to ask anything that comes to mind. This not only strengthens our relationship but gives an advisor the opportunity to truly show value.
- Forget the Sales Pitch – This is probably the most important component in my client relationships: At no point do I ever position a product for sale. When you remove the product and the sale, you open the opportunity to teach. The education is what gives the client the confidence and the power to decide if this solution is right for them, and nine out of ten times if you are able to properly articulate the details of a product, and the solution it provides, it will sell itself.
- Educated Decisions – Young consumers bring a whole new dynamic to financial sales. With such easy access to information online, most are looking for guidance and customized detail from an advisor. When we approach a new client with the concept of “just sign here”, we run the risk of building a defense wall instead of opening the doors to constructive conversations. Giving clients the right to make an educated decision provides confidence in you and the products purchased. This stems from their ability to feel connected and in control of the decision-making process.
Whether you are selling or purchasing financial advice, life insurance, disability, or wealth solutions, it all boils down to the same core value: Education. Giving our clients the right to know and understand the products available to them not only benefits your business but strengthens the value of the financial industry in the eyes of the consumer – and, if you are reading this as a consumer, I’m confident you’ll agree.
And, for those of you who are advisors, always remember that your job is to provide value for the client through teaching, and that this begins by a commitment to learn yourself!
Kristen Fazio, BScFS, PFA, CHS is a Personal Insurance Specialist at Professionals’ Insurance Centre.