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Help Clients Ask the Right Questions

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Want to attract new clients? Help them determine the unique questions they need to answer.

A big part of an advisor’s value is in helping clients solve problems. That's not news. However, author Daniel Pink, speaking at the recent FPA national conference, presented a critical insight for advisors interested in attracting new clients.

Pink pointed out that because of almost universal access to information, if clients fully understood their problem or their question they would have little need for an advisor. Thus one of the keys to being indispensable to clients is to help them understand the questions they need to answer.

Many of us in the financial advisory business understand that the secret is not in knowing the answers, but in having the right questions. I employ that principle in my own practice as well as in my coaching and it has made me consider the value of coaching clients to help them formulate the right questions for themselves.

Much of the value I have gotten from hiring other professionals is when they asked me questions that could be roughly reconstructed as: "Have you asked yourself this?" One of the benefits of talking to a specialist is the deeper understanding of the specific questions we need to be asking for our particular circumstances.

Within your specialty, what are the unique questions your clients need to answer for themselves that other people don't need to ask? If you work with obstetricians, how will they protect their savings when the malpractice suit arrives? If you work with clients in divorce, how will they deal with kids’ college expenses? If you work within a faith community, how do they want their values expressed in the portfolio?

Helping your clients understand which special questions they need answers to is actually more powerful than providing them the answers. And having a deeper, more nuanced understanding of your niche positions you to help them ask more sophisticated, more deeply meaningful questions. What are the unique questions your target market should be asking themselves?

SteveWershing is president of The Client Driven Practice, a firm that coaches financial advisors on referral marketing. He is the author of "Stop Asking for Referrals."

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