When financial advisors seek new clients, their outreach efforts can often lead to prospective clients approaching them because of a specific issue on their mind that they would like the advisor to address. In these instances, the advisor may start the discussion simply with the intention of better understanding the client’s problem. But sometimes, when the advisor meets a potential prospect (perhaps at a party or other social engagement) who doesn’t appear to have any immediately discernable ‘problems’, the conversation to convince the prospect that the advisor has value to offer, especially when markets are up and everything else appears to be going well, can be more complex.
In our 88th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how advisors can connect with prospects who believe their financial lives are going well. As while it is easier for an advisor to attract prospects who are already aware that they need assistance (e.g., offering investment management to a prospect whose portfolio has underperformed the market), it can be much more difficult to attract prospects who don’t recognize that there are any problems to solve in the first place.
As a starting point, it is important to recognize that a successful connection between a prospect and advisor requires two things: 1) the prospect must recognize they have an issue that needs to be solved; and 2) they must believe the advisor has a solution to their problem. As while most financial advisors have a wide range of services to offer, people rarely have a ‘comprehensive financial planning’ problem. Therefore, an advisor can help prospects identify gaps and areas of weakness, and then show that they have a solution to the specific issue, whether it is portfolio management, retirement planning for a specific career, handling life transitions, or another area.
This situation also demonstrates the value for advisors of serving a particular niche, solving problems for a specific group of people. By being clear about the services they can offer for a specific type of client, advisors can better attract prospects who have issues that match the advisor’s specialty and save time by engaging with fewer prospects who would not be a good fit.
Ultimately, the key point is that an advisor has to offer relevance to prospects in order to convert them into clients. Which means that helping prospects recognize that they have a problem in the first place, by using language that relates to them so they can self-identify with the stated problems, is an important step to connecting with prospects. And identifying specific problems, recognized and understood by both the advisor and the prospect, allows the advisor to build the relationship by explaining how they will help their new client solve their problems!