Lena Smirnova, a Masters of Journalism candidate at the University of British Columbia, will be reporting live from the Investing In You Conference in Vancouver on Thursday, October 20. This year’s theme is Vision, Value, Voice.
The conference showcases stories from dynamic female advisors. Attendees will be provided tools to develop a deeper vision for the future of their practices, strengthen their voices, create a more valuable brand, and set their next goals.
How to Earn a Client’s Trust in Under Five Minutes
Melanie Clarance, Contessa Capital Ltd.
3:36: All the prizes are gone, the conference is over and participants are off to collect their gift bags with cupcakes. Thank you for being with us to today and thank you to the speakers for their informative and inspiring presentations.
3:32: The conference presentations have wrapped up and we’re onto the gift prize draw. There are five prizes in the running…
3:28: Clients will give you more slack if they have close, trusting relationships with you.
3:25: Physical contact, such as handholding and touching the shoulder, are reassuring for the client, Clarance says. She found, based on her work as a financial advisor and veterinary doctor, that physical contact leads to positive neurological responses and helps build trust.
3:20: How to show you care: Non-threatening eye contact, use the word ‘we,’ be confident.
3:18: Clarance: Owners and clients will only care to deal with you when they know that you care about them.
3:15: Clarance picks two volunteers from the crowd to show how trust can be seen in someone’s eyes.
3:11: You can save the dog only if you can earn the trust of the owner and the trust of the dog. The same situation applies to financial advice. You need to earn the client’s trust before you can help him.
3:06: Clarance describes a possible situation in a veterinary emergency room. A man rushes in with a dog who has been hit by a car. The dog is gasping for air. He will die without immediate help. The dog owner is blind and depends on the dog as her lifeline. What do you do? How do you gain the trust of the dog and the dog owner?
Pricing Your Value Unapologetically
Sybil Verch, Vice President, Branch Manager & Investment Advisor, HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc.
3:00: Q: Do men have an easier time negotiating their value?
Verch said she is not sure exactly, but as a stereotype, women are more of the nurturing type and tend to want to please while men feel more comfortable acting confidently and dominantly.
2:59: Verch said she’s convinced most financial advisors in Canada do undercharge for their services. A study found that investors are willing to pay more than they are currently charged.
2:58: Verch challenges participants to go back to the office and change their pricing structure to reflect their real value.
2:55: Verch suggests telling clients when you go to educational conferences to show what you’re doing behind the scenes to improve your qualifications.
2:54: Verch: It’s a scary thing to do because you run the risk of losing a client. But you have to ask yourself, “Is this the client I want?”
2:52: Verch: Price is only an issue in the absence of perceived value.
2:50: It would not be fair to give discounts to clients who asked for discounts, but charge the regular price to the ones who didn’t ask. In the end, it’s better not to give discounts at all, Verch says.
2:49: Is there a disconnect between the value of your services and the price tag you put on them?
2:48: Verch: People will pay for things that they perceive valuable. Putting a price tag on your value is the single most important decision in managing your business.
2:43: Verch asks conference participants to write down what they do for their clients and calls out some sample responsibilities out loud at random.
2:41: Many financial advisors understate their value. For example, many have university degrees and have attended valuable, educational conferences, but don’t tell their clients this. Does your client know that you are the Investment in You conference today? Verch wants to know.
2:39: Verch highlights key findings in a recent study. The study found that price drove the clients’ decision in who to hire as financial advisors in only 4 percent of the cases. Instead, main drivers were performance and expertise. Plus, price was only a factor in clients firing financial advisors in 1 percent of the cases.
2:37: Verch: You need to know your value before you set your value.
2:33: Verch launches into her talk on how to put a value on the services you provide to your clients. She makes everyone in the room stand up for an interactive exercise. Turns out that while most conference participants find that the popcorn in the movie theatres is overpriced, many of them buy it anyway. The exercise is meant to show that you can value yourself higher and still get the clients you need.
2:32: Verch: Competing on price alone is a losing proposition.
2:14: We’ll be back shortly after the last coffee break of the day. A presentation on how to put a price tag on your services is up next.
Profits and Promises
Speaker: Stephanie Holmes-Winton, financial advisor and author of Defusing the Dept Bomb
2:09: Holmes-Winton says she tries all the solutions that she recommends to her clients, which helps her appear more authentic.
2:07: Speaking in defence of her self-admitted Starbucks addiction, Holmes-Winton tells financial advisors not to pass their own judgements onto their clients’ spending. One way to deal with unnecessary spending patterns is to split all purchases into two streams – work and pleasure.
2:02: Some optimistic words to wrap up the presentation. Holmes-Winton: Female advisors have a huge edge when it comes to talking to clients about this because they are already less intimidating.
1:59: Financial advisors need to start making questions about debt a part of their consultation process. Holmes-Winton asks clients to send in their financial papers before they sit down for an appointment with her. No need to be bashful with your financial situation.
1:57: Holmes-Winton: We can help our clients find meaning with their money rather than lecturing them.
1:56: Debt matters because it touches every aspect of the client’s spending. It needs to be changed through behaviour.
1:54: Groceries are the worst offender Holmes-Winton sees on people’s budgets. People constantly underestimate how much they need to buy that jar of peanut butter.
1:49: Holmes-Winton presents some effective and ineffective ways to talk about debt. Ineffective – “You don’t have any issues with debt, do you?” More effective – “How do you feel about your cash flow from one month to the next? What goals could we achieve if we were able to improve that cash flow?” No client will resist an offer to improve their cash flow so you will get a more open response, Holmes-Winton says.
1:47: People are still reluctant to open up to their financial advisors about their debt problems.
1:41: Debt is not just an issue among 30-somethings. Canadian boomers are also concerned. This is not so surprising considering that only 16 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 59 are debt free.
1:38: Echoing the theme of an earlier talk today by Nancy Shewfelt and Caroline Hanna, Holmes-Winton repeats the mantra, “Your clients don’t want everything.”
1:36: Our next speaker, dubbed “The Money Finder” comes from Nova Scotia. Her books can be found in stores, but it’s even nicer to have her in person here today.
Gold Sponsor: Snapshots
Speaker: Terri Williams, CFP, Vice President, Marketing & Brand Management, Scotiabank Wealth Management & Commercial Banking Groups
1:36: The tool gets some upbeat reviews from the audience.
1:14: Williams guides the room through the different features of the Snapshots tool.
1:11: Williams: 80 percent of the time people are seeking advice for something that has happened in their lives.
1:05: Welcome back from lunch. The presentation from the conference’s gold sponsor on Snapshots, a client communication and education tool, is about to begin. Terri Williams, CFP and Vice President of Marketing & Brand Management at Scotiabank Wealth Management & Commercial Banking Groups is headed for the stage.
12:06: We’re off to practice our new leadership communication skills over lunch. I will be back in an hour with live blogging from four more exciting presentations. Bon appetit.
Taking the Stage
Speaker: Diana Pavlovska, Consultant, The Humphrey Group
11:59: Pavlovska encourages banishing the Canadian habit of apologizing all the time. This can start with replacing “sorry” with “thank you” on your phone answering machine.
11:58: Pavlovska: It is through communicating as a leader in every opportunity that your successful client relationships are built.
11:54: Pavlovska: My call to action for you is, think of every interaction as a leadership opportunity, have a clear message, speak with presence.
11:48: Participants are asked to deliver their one-line messages to each other using the techniques they learned in the workshop. The room gets louder as people get up to present their messages.
11:44: Pavlovska leads the group through a series of body exercises where participants see the difference they feel when they sit up straight or sit like men. Amidst the jokes, women say that they end up taking more room when they sit like men.
11:42: The fourth step is to speak with a leader’s presence. This means you need to open up your body language, connect with conversational eye contact, pause in your speech and use expressions to bring your ideas to life.
11:41: Your clients need you to be a leader. They don’t want to hear what you think. They want to hear what you know.
11:37: Examples of bad communication include ending a sentence in a question, apologizing, starting out with “I’d just like to say…” and others (which, I think, I’m sorry to say, I have all done in the past).
11:34. The third step is using the language of leadership. Pavlovska says this is the area where women, more often then men, undermine their leadership opportunities.
11:31: Pavlovska challenges the conference participants to apply the message exercise to their work three times a day for the next two weeks.
11:25: The adventure continues. Now we need to write down three points to back up our main message. Pavlovska encourages conference participants to consult the laminated Humphrey Group cheat-sheet that participants got in their conference packages. The laminate coating will protect the cheat-sheet from damage in case you wisely decide to out it up in your shower stall, Pavloska says. She is speaking from personal experience here so we better listen.
11:22: Now we’re writing one-sentence messages that reflect our convictions and are based on solid information. Pavloska said she spent four hours with a client once to get this type of sentence right. We have about four minutes. No pressure.
11:17: We’re working on the next exercise. Here participants read four statements that are posted on the screen and decide whether they are real messages or not. For example, “Let me outline how we are going to be updating our investment strategy next quarter.” Not a message, it turns out.
“I firmly believe you should invest in a diverse portfolio so that you can reduce risk and anticipate gains.” Yes, this is a message. People in the room are getting livelier. Perhaps they’re getting the right answers!
11:14: The second step is to get to the point. Speak with a clear message in mind. A positive message is one that has a clear point, but doesn’t necessarily have to convey good news.
11:13: Pavlovska: A stage is an email, a phone call, a lunchtime, a podium.
11:11: Pavlovksa says people have an average of 150 communication opportunities each day. Given this information overload, it is key for financial advisors to make some of these opportunities really stand out.
11:08: Information alone is not effective communication. Pavlovska reads a barrage of facts about the financial situation in the world to show how information by itself is not inspiring.
11:07: Pavlovska presents the four steps of the “taking the stage” method. The first step is to adopt the leader’s mindset. This involves speaking from your convictions and based on your values.
11:05: Table #4: Biggest communication challenge is getting in front of the right people.
11:04: Some participants share what they discussed in their lightning rounds with the rest of the room. Table #5: Biggest challenge for this financial advisor is learning how to convert meetings with clients into concrete business.
10:59: Conference participants at each table take some time to discuss value propositions, the role of communication in their success, and their biggest communication hurdles they face.
10:57: Pavlovska: How you communicate is vital to your success.
10:55: Pavlovska says people find it easier to “take the stage” when you’re behind the podium, but not in daily life. Pavloska is here to show us how to act as leaders and inspire actions in others by shaping their beliefs.
10:52: Our next speaker, Diana Pavlovska, is actually a Gemini-nominated actress! Melissa Shin, managing editor of Advisor Group, admits to being a bit star-struck and I must say, I am too.
10:47: Had a nice chat with our next speaker before she went onstage. She seems very excited to share her expertise, but also a little anxious about having to condense a two-day course into an hour-long presentation!
10:23: We’re taking a short coffee break. Stay tuned for live coverage from Diana Pavlovska’s “Taking the Stage” workshop, coming up in 20 minutes.
Look at the next page for blogging from “A Long-Term Vision” talk by the mother-daughter duo from Wellington West. Nancy Shewfelt and Caroline Hanna discuss what it takes to retain generations of family clients based on their personal experiences.
A Long-Term Vision
Speakers: Nancy Shewfelt, Senior Vice President, Investment Advisor & Wealth Management Consultant, Wellington West
Caroline Hanna, Investment Advisor, Wellington West
10:19: Q: What are some of the examples of meaningful questions to ask?
Shewfelt: First question is, “Are you happy?”
Hanna: “What’s new?” is a good open-ended question.
10:16: Q: Have you ever been blind-sighted by clients?
Shewfelt says yes. She had a client who always held her hand, but then unexpectedly left. In times like these, she says she might cry a bit and ask whether she has done enough for that client.
10:15: Some important questions to ask yourself: How much are you dedicating yourself to building a multi-generational relationship? Do you know what really matters to them?
10:13: A successful tactic for Wellington West is to celebrate key events in their clients’ lives – without attaching these celebrations to any sales pitches. Hanna said the past celebrations they hosted got rave reviews.
10:10: Shewfelt said she prefers to give clients the tough outlook rather than the standard pitch. “I hate the phoniness of our business. I hate the sale pitch.”
10:09: Shewfelt encourages advisors to be realistic and tough on clients, when necessary. “You don’t want to sugar-coat anything.”
10:05: Active listening is key. Financial advisors should not be afraid of asking even the more intimate questions, such as questions about client marriages and problems with the kids. Listening to the responses will help advisors to understand what really matters to their clients.
10:03: Shewfelt: The tears come and I know I’m connected.
10:02: The speakers share some practical advice on how to develop those coveted, close relationships. One way is to be sincerely interested in the clients’ families and hobbies. Financial advisors need to know what is going on in their clients’ lives.
10:00: Shewfelt and Hanna build assets by developing close relationships with their clients. This relationship, they say, is the difference between being an acquaintance and a close friend to your client.
9:58: The key question for Shewfelt about her clients: How well do we know the family?
9:56: Hanna’s personal blog is also bringing in clients. She recently blogged about why couples fight about money. The blog entry got many hits and later led the readers to the Wellington West website.
9:54: It’s useful to measure the number of hits and the kind of traffic your website gets through Google Analytics. When Hanna came to Wellington West, the company didn’t have a website. Now the company website is a powerful tool in attracting clients.
9:53: Hanna recommends getting social media to help your business. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some good resources to tap. When she asks how many people in the room use these networks, the majority of the conference participants put up their hands.
9:51: Networking and social media are key drivers for the mother-daughter duo.
9:48: Hanna grew up with two financial advisors as parents and though she first wanted to go into sociology, eventually she ended up also giving out financial advice. Ironically, her mother, Nancy Shewfelt, and grandfather also started out studying sociology and later switched to the financial sector.
9:45: Hanna says her business philosophy is that every client has a story.
9:43: Nancy Shewfelt, Senior Vice President and Investment Advisor & Wealth Management Consultant at Wellington West, and Caroline Hanna, Investment Advisor at Wellington West, suggest how to retain different family generations as clients.
Speaker: Kathy McGarrigle, Chief Operating Officer, Coast Capital
9:39: The most important advice from today’s keynote speech: Really take the time to define what success is for you and focus on it. McGarrigle is optimistic that this is a great time for female financial advisors.
9:36: McGarrigle shares a video where she babysits two overactive boys. Luckily they fall asleep listening to a bedtime reading of financial reports.
9:32: Getting recognized as a female financial advisor could actually be unsatisfying. Incredible opportunity to travel the world that McGarrigle got at HSBC felt wrong since she knew that the bank’s management sought her out for this position largely just to fill the quota for female employees.
9:30: McGarrigle: It took a lot of courage to change myself. I didn’t feel I had to be like a man any longer.
9:29: McGarrigle: What we say and what we do says who we are…experiencing adversity has made me a better leader.
9:26: McGarrigle finds herself curled up into a “fetal position” as things in her personal life get more complicated. The changes in her personal life, including a severe illness, and work pressures plague her for months. The turning point comes at the most unexpected moment. A squeege guy sees McGarrigle crying in her car and tells her that he will pray for her.
9:23: McGarrigle says she is motivated by doing things from scratch (and being the first in what she does as well, clearly!).
9:21: McGarrigle: Good things can come out of following niche markets.
9:19: McGarrigle talks about her experiences working for a boss who spent most of his time in bars while she had to fetch diapers for his kids and do menial secretarial tasks. Before you get too worried, I’ll tell you the happy ending. McGarrigle managed to stick it out and go on to do better things.
9:16: McGarrigle recounts her days starting out in the financial business. Her goal at that time was to earn $30,000 per year by 30.
9:12: McGarrigle: If you want to be successful, you have to define what success means to you.
9:10: What has changed in the past 25 years? China enters the world market as the second-largest economy, more people are online, and more people have cell phones – but the number of women in middle management positions is still low. McGarrigle: “Those are some frightening statistics.”
9:08: Our speaker shares a lesson from good housekeeping circa 1950: “Marry well and keep men happy.” We’ve come a long way since then.
9:07: McGarrigle: It’s so exciting to see a room full of accomplished women who love this business as much as I do.
9:06: Kathy McGarrigle, Chief Operating Officer at Coast Capital steps up to the stage with an impressive resume and some inspirational words on what it takes to make a business succeed.
9:02: And we’re off. Melissa Shin, managing editor of Advisor Group, is greeting the conference participants from the stage.
8:56: Starting in five minutes. Grab a coffee and join us in the Waterfront Ballroom of Fairmont Hotel.
8:41: Good morning! Getting set for the start of the Investing in You conference. Room already filling up with conference participants.