When I entered this business in the early 90s, it was seemingly easy to find clients. Now, competition has increased, and the industry’s growth rate has receded from more than 20% per year to single digits.

So to attract clients, ask one simple question, “Tell me your story.”

Test it with a client you know well and are comfortable with, or even with a family member. It will reveal new information about this person.

Once you discover what is important to your clients, you can start to create the plan they want.

Here’s how to communicate this plan.

1. Financial vision document

This simple one-page document summarizes all the goals your client wants to achieve. It is the foundation of her plan.

2. Confirm

The next question you should ask is, “Did I hear you right?”

If you listened well, you can move on to a document that summarizes the plan—the client engagement roadmap. It includes a series of important discussions with your client over a timeframe relevant to her. This document will help define what priorities need to be discussed today and those that can wait three months, six months, or even a year.

By laying out the goals she has communicated, your client can visualize accomplishments as you move through the plan. By listening and agreeing to a schedule of activities, the client will feel she’s on the right path to achieving goals. That means they’ll be more involved with their plans.

The more you agree in advance to follow a path and listen to your clients, the more time you will save. The real value, though, is creating a better process to allow you to gain more clients.

Keith Pangretitsch is director, national sales at Russell Investments Canada Limited, who has a passion for helping advisors grow more efficient and profitable businesses. He is an active member of Russell’s Practice Management program which has worked with more than 1,200 advisory teams across North America and Europe.