“So how long have you been working as an advisor?”
It’s a common and almost unavoidable question that new clients and prospects will ask when you’re starting out in the business. While having many years of experience isn’t a necessity, you still need a good answer to that question if you want clients to have confidence in you.
Here are four ways to prove your expertise.
1. Leverage the experience of your peers. We grew up in the business. Our father has been an advisor in the industry for a long time, so we leverage his experience when dealing with almost every new client or prospect. Doing this reassures clients that we’re not completely new to the industry.
For advisors who don’t have parents in the business, the opportunity is still there to team up with a more senior advisor. There are many who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you and often there are things that you can do to help them with their business as well. These people can be found in most IIROC and MFDA offices.
The simplest way to approach a senior advisor is to be straightforward. Ask to go and grab a coffee.
You’ll be surprised to know that many experienced advisors will have questions for you as well. They may ask, for instance, how you prospect, bill your clients or manage money. These areas of practice have changed rapidly over the years and, often, younger advisors have expertise in areas that senior advisors know little about. So developing a relationship with a senior advisor can be mutually beneficial.
2. Focus on your expertise, rather than experience. While experience is great, ultimately the question that every client has is, “Do you know what you’re doing, or will you lose my money?”
The best way to overcome this is to set a clear process for your entire relationship with the client. We’ve put a lot of effort to create and brand our own five-step process. We explain each step of the process and answer any questions the client might have. This educates the client on what our value is, and why they should work with us. It also shows that we’ve gone through this process before.
3. Emphasize the advantages of being a younger advisor. For instance, you’re not going to retire anytime soon. This can be a huge differentiator against an advisor who is nearing retirement. Clients’ need for investment advice doesn’t end when they retire. So if their advisor is the same age, they’ll likely need a new, younger advisor at some point.
One prospect we met was hesitant to move her account from a more experienced advisor. She had worked with this person for more than 15 years at another institution, and was unsure of transferring her account to two advisors who were more than 20 years younger than her. However, after demonstrating the value that we were going to provide through our process, and mentioning our expertise and that we were a multigenerational family business that was going to be around for the rest of her life, she realized that transferring to us was going to give her the security and comfort she needed as she neared retirement.
4. Market yourself. Get involved in the community so people recognize who you are. We are both involved on non-profit boards and charitable organizations. We also take every opportunity to upgrade our education and improve our business.
So join groups and clubs where your target market usually frequents. All of these items will raise your profile with clients and make your experience (or perceived lack thereof) become less of an issue.