Senior financial advisor, Investment Planning Council, Ottawa
I tend not to have clients check out in meetings, but I also tend to keep my meetings to an hour or less. I know there are advisors who have two-and-a-half-hour meetings. I wouldn’t listen to me for two and a half hours. Why would anybody else?
One strategy is to send them the agenda the week before so they know what we’re going to talk about. I had one client respond, “I got the agenda, but I want to talk about estate planning.” So I let him know that I would park the agenda: “You want to talk about estate planning, we’ll spend an hour talking about that.” That’s how I keep clients engaged—talk about what’s important to them, not what I can do for them, because that’s not really what they want to know.
Patti B. Dolan,
Portfolio manager, Mission Wealth Advisors, Raymond James, Calgary
I don’t use a lot of technical questions. I use a broader approach: How much money do you need to retire? What kind of hobbies will you have? Are you going to travel? What about your grandchildren? Those are more personal questions that will give me the answers I’m looking for and clients will be more engaged.
I think if the meeting’s much more than an hour, you lose focus. If there’s a lot of information you’re trying to plow through and it’s going to be an hour-and-a-half to two-hour meeting, I’ll take a break and give clients an opportunity to get up and stretch. Much more than an hour and they’ll lose focus. If you came in and I talked for an hour straight, I’d lose you after 10 minutes, I’m sure.
Investment advisor, Industrial Alliance Securities Inc., Winnipeg
I love to do the talking. However, I get more information when my clients do the talking and I do the listening. A good way to make clients feel like you understand them is to paraphrase what they said. When someone answers in a simple yes or no, use this as a cue to ask them what they like about the topic and how they feel about it.
It’s good to be conscious of your body language as well as your client’s. You can’t read body language over the phone or through a text, so it’s important to be keenly aware of this during a face-to-face meeting. Reading body language allows you to see when the client likes a suggestion or when the client may be confused. Are they leaning in with good eye contact? Or are they leaning back in a chair with their arms crossed?