the-human-side-of-advice

When clients leave, it can be surprising. But, often there are signs the relationship was on the rocks.

Many clients will keep quiet about their troubles, but look for these signs of distress:

  • Radio silence.

    A normally responsive client stops replying to phone calls or messages.

  • Non-responsiveness.

    She stalls or simply doesn’t implement your recommendations.

  • Formal tone.

    You call and get the same polite, but terse, response you might expect if you were making an unsolicited call at dinner.

  • Withholding.

    She’s unwilling to open up about a situation.

  • The second opinion.

    Your once-active and responsive client now delays decisions, saying they need to check recommendations with someone else – her accountant, family members or another advisor.

  • Argumentativeness.

    She won’t accept advice and challenges every recommendation.

  • The serial shopper.

    She changes advisors often or has a history of moving from place to place.

“A lot of clients, especially the ones who aren’t confident in their investment knowledge, might be hesitant to confront their advisors,” says Cynthia Kett, principal at Stewart & Kett Financial Advisors. “If they have something that’s bothering them, they might just avoid the conversation.”

Read: Help couples avoid arguments

If a customer seems unhappy for a long period of time, first ask if the problematic relationship can be saved. Sometimes, salvaging the connection isn’t possible or in anyone’s best interests, so it’s crucial to know when to part ways.

If this is the case, the client most likely knows on some level. Once she’s lost faith in your services, it’s very difficult to turn the relationship around.

Similarly, if you’re not experienced in the work she needs—which happens most often with wealthy clientele—or if the relationship has become too demanding, it may be time to walk away. Find a professional and diplomatic way to suggest her needs and your services aren’t well matched.

“Treat clients professionally, even if they’re on their way out the door. At least then you’ve done what you can,” says David Cooke, business development specialist at Qualified Financial Services. “Be as helpful as possible during that transition.”

If the relationship is valuable, however, examine your meeting and planning tactics. Advisors sometimes inadvertently develop bad habits that drive clients away, say Kett and Cooke.

For instance, most advisors tell stories about past clients, using their problems as examples to show how strategic or tactical changes could affect portfolios.

But be wary of how you present those stories. If you make past clients look bad or reveal too much about their personal lives, your current customers will wonder what you might be telling others about their mistakes.

Read: How to talk clients through family troubles

Click through below to find out how to save the relationship.

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