According to reporting in Financial Planning, consumers still don’t trust the financial services industry: just over one in three (36%) of 4,400 US adults polled said they “tend to trust” investment and wealth managers—the same percentage that said they “tend not to trust” them and that their “trust has to be earned.” The remaining 28% had no opinion or said they didn’t know.
During the past year, we’ve all had to make a lot of decisions—some easy, some not. When I make decisions, trust is a critical factor in the actions I take. When clients decide whether they want to work with you, trust is very often the tipping point in what they choose to do.
One gentleman I spoke with told me, “I know in 30 seconds if the advisor is someone I want to work with. I’ve become very intuitive in my decision making and I can tell in the first 30 seconds if the advisor is trustworthy—if he’s looking out for my best interests or his own.”
Joyce C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark, once defined intuition as the vapor of past experience. Contrast this vapor with memorized information, which is nothing more than mental noise. Your clients don’t want to hear just a bunch of noise—they need to know the air is made up of trust. Those clients want to be sure there is a foundation of trust supporting their relationship with you. Anything less will end up collapsing.
Clients are constantly comparing what they see and hear with what they’ve actually lived through. Those experiences have grown from being a small closet full of memories and experiences to a vast warehouse. Unless someone trusts you, you won’t get access to their warehouse. And without that access, they will choose to work with someone else instead of you. It’s that simple—clients care more about being able to trust you than ROI.
People are comparing what they see in you and what they hear you say with the vapor of their past experiences and arriving at an intuitive decision based on a feeling. If how you conduct yourself reminds them of someone they knew who was condescending or wasn’t a good listener, that association is made in their brains and they’ll find someone else that they feel more comfortable with—someone they trust.
A woman I knew was fighting for her life and seeing one of the top oncologists in the world. He was an outstanding researcher and analyst but had horrible communication skills. He didn’t make eye contact, didn’t speak clearly, and had an air of arrogance. Even though her life was hanging in the balance, she wanted to change doctors because of the rotten feeling she got when talking to him. A logical decision? Of course not, but her inability to trust him got in the way. Her emotions were swayed by the perception that he really didn’t care about her. For most people, the decision to move, to do, to risk, is an intuitive call coming from the right side of the brain. People trust their own intuitions over any fact or statistic you may show them.
An advisor told me, “I once read something by an astronaut who had landed on the moon, that in training as an astronaut, 10% of the time was spent studying plans for the mission and 90% of the time learning to react intuitively to all the “what ifs.” That’s the same approach I take on my job as an advisor. You can become too reliant on what you know and pay too little attention to responding intuitively to what clients really want to know. They have fears and concerns that I need to pick up on and address. I can’t do this if I’m trying to push my way through an agenda.”
In other words, clients need to feel you are not only knowledgeable, but trustworthy.
The astronaut that this advisor referred to was Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man on the moon who founded the Institute for Noetic Sciences in California. Mitchell claimed that reliance on the intuitive response was the most important part of the astronauts’ training. From what I’ve observed from highly successful advisors, reliance on the intuitive response may also be the most important part of the advisor’s job. That response helps ensure that clients trust you, and that you’re interested in more than just their financial assets.
The most powerful intuitive tool any advisor has for making a connection with their clients is the incisive, insightful question. Ask the right questions and people will reveal everything you need to know to calm their fears, dispel their confusion, and simplify their life. The right question can open the door to the trust you and your client both need to be successful. Just be sure you listen to their answers!
Decisions get made when the right emotions are stirred (calm, security, trust). These emotions are stirred through the use of simple visuals and metaphors, sharing of experiences, and addressing values. By keeping your presentations straightforward, stirring the right emotions, respecting the uniqueness of each of your clients, you’ll earn their trust and they’ll become a client for life.