by Mitch Anthony

Sometimes the obvious isn’t. We should smile. We should listen and focus on our clients. We should show enthusiasm about what we do. We should treat everyone with kindness. As our kids are fond of saying, “Duh!”

But we often unwittingly abandon the basic rules of human contact and relational development when we are distracted, harried, overwhelmed, upset, or just having a particularly bad day. Do you think your clients care that you are distracted, harried, or having a particularly bad day? Do you care that the server who just verbally assaulted you while taking your breakfast order is overwhelmed or overstressed?

When I talk to folks about who is managing their money, I listen to whether or not they mention the name of the person or the name of the firm. If they mention the name of the firm, I know their financial professional has not done a good job of building the relationship.

I also listen for the level of enthusiasm they display when talking about their financial professional. I’m not as interested in how they talk about the financial professional’s competence or skill as I am in how they discuss that individual’s “personability.” When clients speak enthusiastically about their financial professional, that individual almost always excels in his or her ability to relate to people in a genuine and enthusiastic way. They are “people” people. They are likable.

We have often heard that you never get a second chance at a first impression. Well, you never get a second chance at a second impression either—or a second chance at a third impression. Every impression matters—and every contact and impression is as important as the first. Some financial professionals make a great first impression but don’t follow through on successive impressions, and consequently their client leaves.

Every time you meet with a client you are confronting the longest yard—the critical three feet between you and your client. Those three feet represent a dynamic stance that is either shrinking or expanding every time you make a client connection.

People come to financial professionals to fix problems, but they leave because of poor dynamics in the relationship. Which meeting or contact started that negative dynamic? Which word or look or bit of inaction opened the door in your client’s mind that eventually led that client to walk out your door? Because determining which interaction sowed the seed of discontent is not always possible, you need to become a master of every moment when meeting, greeting, and treating your clients.

The attitude of others toward you is inevitably linked to their interactions with you. You could possess all the persuasive power in the world but lack personal charisma—and fall like a rock in one-on-one encounters. There are five basic dynamics of personal charisma and likability that will expand your circles of influence and friendship:

  1. Be real. Admit mistakes when you make them. Don’t be afraid to discuss clients’ emotions regarding money and life. After all, money is an emotional subject—deeply tied to an abundance of life issues. People want to talk to a professional who is a real person. Don’t hide behind credentials, awards, and professional jargon. The only people you’ll impress are those using them.
  2. Treat everyone like a “10.” Remember the Bo Derek film, 10? The movie gave people a universal rating system for beauty. We would look at someone and say, “He or she is an ‘8.’” Our culture always seems to cater more to beauty than it does to brains, sincerity, or even ability. Watch the way the average businessperson fawns over a physically attractive individual versus one who isn’t. No wonder people become hypersensitive over a slight or snub. Everyone wants to feel that they matter.
  3. Live passionately and youthfully. People today want to work with not only a competent professional but also one who understands balanced living. They want someone who can help them gain perspective—as well as income. Make human contact with your clients by sharing your passions with them. Some of your clients will connect with you, while others will simply admire your energy for life. Whatever you do, don’t start acting old. Don’t complain and moan and groan. It’s a turnoff. Your attitude is contagious—make sure it is something worth catching.
  4. Exude positive energy. Positive people know others can be stupid, cruel, selfish, and ridiculous, but they would rather look at their redeeming qualities. They choose humor and grace over criticism, and fascination with life over cynicism. These positive individuals are not blinded to the things that are wrong and could be wrong—they have simply found a better place to live. Be sure your clients feel your positive energy when you meet with them, beginning with how you greet them—a genuine smile that shows your clients you’re glad to see them.
  5. Help people look forward. You can give your clients hope when you help them to see that money is a utility to help furnish them the kind of life they desire. It’s all about Return on Life™: life is not about making as much money as you can—money is about making the life you want. Financial professionals who can help introduce this perspective, and then facilitate the process of pursuing this desired lifestyle, have immensely raised their value in the eyes of their clients. Financial professionals who cannot do this will soon learn they have become obsolete, as both their products and services have become ubiquitously commoditized. Help your clients find a hopeful vision of life—with their money as the means instead of the goal. Life is too short to waste doing something eight to ten hours a day that does nothing but sour your outlook. You can easily become your client’s lifelong partner in this process simply by changing your focus, thereby altering your job description.

Everybody matters—but not everybody treats them like they do. You can be the person who does.

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Adapted from Making the Client Connection: Maximize the Power of Your Personality, Presentations, and Presence by Gary DeMoss and Mitch Anthony ©2004. Available from or

© 2016 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc.and the Financial Life Planning Institute, the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs for the financial services industry.

For almost two decades, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.

Mitch is a consistently top-rated presenter who has spoken to groups ranging from 10 to more than 10,000. He has been named one of the financial services industry’s top “Movers & Shakers” for his pioneering work. Through the Institute, he has partnered with Texas Tech University, the University of Georgia, and Utah Valley University to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs.

Mitch is a sought-after expert for the media, and a regular columnist for Financial Advisor magazine. His columns have appeared on CBS MarketWatch and in the Journal of Financial Planning. His original comic strip “Stanley Brambles, CFG (Certified Financial Guru)”appears monthly in the print edition of Research magazine. Mitch is also host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.

Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by “Financial Advisor” magazine as the number one “must-read” book for financial professionals. Mitch’s other books include The New Retirementality (now in its 4th edition), From the Boiler Room to the Living RoomYour Clients for LifeYour Client’s Story, and The Financial Lit-KitThe Cash in the HatThe Bean is Not Green, and Where Did the Money Go?. For information on these books and more resources, click here. Contact Mitch at [email protected].