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We teach Financial Advisors how to become 'The Only Game In Town'
If you’d like to invest more time understanding how to provide what clients actually want, and can’t find anywhere else, you can do so by becoming a free member of The Mark of Mastery™ community.
You’ll get full access to all the Financial Advisor resources available at no charge to members including the free course The Only Game In Town: 10 Game-Changing Strategies for Financial Advisors, which includes an entire lesson about clients’ financial gaps called Seeing The World Through Your Clients’ Eyes.
That lesson, along with the free workbook provided, will give you more ideas about how to master the extraordinary client experience.
Here’s some things you might want to know about what makes our methodology yield such transformational results. You’ll find a link below to the 6 Fundamental Laws and using simple logic that we all accept. Those laws lay out how important it is to exceed your client’s expectations, if you want to receive spontaneous unsolicited client referrals but the 6 laws don’t explain how to exceed your client’s expectations.
The starting point for that is to begin identifying the financial gaps in their life. It’s important to recognize that most clients don’t have any overarching financial strategy nor do they have any oversight process for ensuring whether they’re on track or off track. Most clients don’t even have a single strategist on their current financial team. They might have a CPA, lawyer, banker, Insurance professional etc but no strategist and they also lack of team members whose job it is to inform the clients when things have drifted off-track requiring some action from the client to get back on track.
Since filling financial gaps is the first step in exceeding a client’s expectations, consider making these points to every client who’s missing these two pieces of the puzzle and then offer to fill the gaps for them. In other words, point out these two obvious gaps and then offer to be the solution.
Remember: Offering to help a client, make sure everything gets done is a far different concept than offering to do everything for your client.
Offering to help your client, make sure that everything gets done is a far lower bar and simply commits you to pay attention, meet regularly and hold others accountable to making sure that everything should happen and needs to happen actually happens.
You’re only responsible for taking care of and doing only those things you’re able and willing to do. For the rest, what you’re agreeing to is only to monitor your client’s situation and hold others responsible for the rest. That means, you’ll act like a Project Manager tracking who is doing what by when and keeping everything on track. You might make assignments to the client’s accountant or attorney or insurance agent or even to the client themselves and then you’re going to make sure that everything stays on track. Here’s an example of how you might assign something to a client since most client have no strategy or oversight in place effectively identifying and filling a client’s initial gaps might be something like this.
Here’s a sample list of action items that you might provide a hypothetical client which identifies important gaps and creates accountability for something important, but for things that you’re not accountable for doing. This sample assumes that there will be another professional doing the actual work.
(1) Hire this Financial Planning Subject Matter Expert to create a Comprehensive Written Lifetime Financial Strategy and Overarching Plan so you tell the client to do that and to make it easy on your client, provide them with the name of a specific professional and explain that you’re going to ask this person to contact your client which is going to make it easier on your client. Tell him and say that they need to hire this person before November 3rd, 2019.
So dates and having specific action items like that are important. Tell your clients that the strategy needs to be completed by let’s say, November 15th, 2019. You see how we’re creating a sequence of action items that the client specifically knows how to follow.
(2) Tell your client that they need to provide this finalize Comprehensive Written Financial Strategy –the plan to me no later than December 15th after it’s completed. In other words, you instruct your client after the thing is completed that they’re going to give it to you.
(3) Tell your client that they’ve got to create a list of every action item required for them be on track for all of their goals by let’s say December 31st and that’s all action items. You see how you’re creating a sequence of action items on a timeline that you can keep up with and be proactive and then follow through.
(4) You tell your client your goal date to be on track for the funding of everyone of your written financial goals is let’s say March 31st of next year and we have a meeting scheduled for that date to confirm that all the action items do prior to March 31st have actually been completed and that you’re currently on-track for all of your goals.
You can see it’s all in a sequence that you’re able to follow up and be proactive and hold everyone accountable so there’s an example of how to hold your client and others around your client accountable for filling the most important financial gaps in their life.
Assuming you’re not the one assigned to create the lifetime financial strategy, this is a perfect example for you on how you can hold other people as well as your client accountable for each of the steps required for getting done something that they feel is important. Making sure things get done simply requires that you establish what the gaps are and to make sure that the gaps are well-aligned with what your client also believes are their own gaps. You exceed their expectations by filling the gaps by the target dates set.
Imagine how your client will feel when something they feel is important gets done after months or maybe even years of procrastination. But not so fast, only take on the role of your clients accountability coach like this if you’re willing to be proactive and follow every step of the way. It’s follow up that’s going to make this work and that means at the beginning and the middle and the end of the process your job is not to play the blame game by waiting to the deadline only to spank your client or some of the other financial professional for failing to do the things that they promise to do. That’s not what exceeding expectation looks like.
Only do this if you are truly willing to make sure that everything gets done and that means knowing when action items in the timeline that you established are off-track to being done or aren’t being done at all, and then jumping into actions long before the final deadline. You’ll remind people assign of their commitments and you’ll call to encourage or pester and do literally whatever it takes in a collegial professional way in order to hold people accountable throughout the entire process.
If your client isn’t getting an assigned task done, no problem. You’ll proactively jump in, break the task down into smaller bite size pieces with shorter deadlines or you’ll track down others who can do the tasks for your clients for a fee of course.
Bottom line? You’re on it. You’re not taking no for an answer and you’re smilingly and happily following up as much as necessary to make sure the promise end result gets done as promised.
But “Woah!” you say, that all sounds like a total pain in the butt and all to make sure that something you and your firm are even working on or billing forward gets done and yes, you’d be right about that. We’re talking about exceeding expectations here by filling client gaps. Identifying gaps that your clients agree are gaps, and many of which involved procrastination or misunderstanding of the gravity or just plain ignorance.
Waiting until the deadline to check in only to say, “Okay, stupid, you screw this up again!” That’s not going to exceed their expectations. However, stepping up like none of their other financial professionals have ever done before, that will exceed their expectations.
Let’s stop to consider for a minute what it actually takes to get a client to give referrals. I’ve been a Financial Advisor for over 35 years and most referral coaches and most referral programs, they invest most of their time to help you improve your communication skills.
Basically, your ability to ask clients for referrals or they instruct you how to install systems for advertising to your clients that you want referrals as if they hadn’t figured that out already. Things like, don’t keep us a secret. Referrals are appreciated. And we’re told to place things like that in our email signatures or inserts into mailers or monthly statements reminding your clients that your referrals are appreciated greatly or who do you know that could benefit from our services.
I mean, what’s your client thinking? I’m sorry, but a version to this kind of approach especially to a current client, that goes back a long way for me. Actually, my motto all the way back since high school came from one of Ian Ryan’s books which we are all required to read and that is: “I don’t feel like I owe anything to anyone who thinks I owe them something.”
And for the record, client referrals from any of those methods are called “Solicited Referrals” which actually are great. All client referrals are great. And don’t get me wrong, they’re actually are ways to have a proper referral conversation with a client without sounding desperate or sounding like your client owes you something after of course they’ve paid you both of you agreed upon to begin with.
But, we’re here to talk increasing unsolicited client referrals by exposing financial gaps in your clients financial life and those unsolicited referrals are a much more valuable skill than asking clients unsolicited referrals, but it always frustrated me that those referral programs and those coaches, they invested such a little time or no time explaining exactly what to do to increase spontaneous unsolicited client referrals rather than solicited referrals. These are unsolicited referrals, and they’re far more valuable since your client decided on their own to share the good news about you with someone else and when you were nowhere around to ask them to do it. It’s actually a skill and after realizing that only an infinitesimally small percentage of Financial Advisors or frankly, anyone could do it consistently that’s why back in 1999, I decided to invest the time to master this. I’m going to call it the “Super Skill” on my own with my own Ideal Clients. I invested years figuring it out but I did figured it out and now it’s the basis for everything that I teach.
Now, pause for a minute. Be completely candid and honest with yourself just a moment. What do you really know about increasing unsolicited client referrals?
If you’re unsure, here’s the acid test. Do you have problems figuring out how to fit all the spontaneous unsolicited client referrals that you’re currently receiving into your already busy schedule?
Let’s just admit the obvious. Unsolicited client referrals are more valuable. They’re more fulfilling to receive and frankly, they’re more fun and what you may have never considered is that they are 100% within your control resulting from your own skill and your own effort consistently exceeding your clients expectations.
Not receiving unsolicited client referrals, then let’s be honest, you’re not exceeding your client’s expectations that’s as simple as that. Unsolicited client referrals are the ultimate payoff since it means to paraphrase from Seth Godin that:
“What you’ve done for a client is so remarkable that your client without being asked couldn’t resist remarking about the experience with you to someone else that they know.”
As you may already know, I only preach what we practice ourselves with clients. We’ve implemented everything we ever share and have proven that it works and we’ve proven it with our own clients so I can tell you with authority that if you want to generate our high rated referrals from your clients without asking for them. You absolutely must exceed their expectations.
After you master this skill, you’ll wonder how you didn’t pick up on these clues from clients all along. You’ll wish you had started this with your very first client. You’ll wish that because it’s so rare in our industry. You’ll wish it because it’ll differentiate you and when the referrals start rolling in you’ll begin to wonder how many people your clients actually know and have influence with because once you’re really good at this the number of people that your clients are friends with really matters and you’ll soon realize that together all your clients they know far more people than you could possibly ever served so what are some other examples of how to identify financial gaps?
Bill Bachrach –one of the coaches and mentors that I’ve used has an easy way to identify gaps. I’ve heard Bill say, “Simply ask a new client how to rate how organize they feel their financial houses currently and to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a total disaster and 10 being perfect order.”
Clients will say 7 or 8 whatever so when they respond, ask them to remember that back in school a 7 out of 10, 70%, that was a D, an 80%, that was only a B and then ask them. What do you think it would take to get you from where you are now to a perfect 10?
Some will have no idea what needs to happen, most will provide at least an initial list of some gaps that they feel need to be filled and some of those things might not be easy to spot just looking through their financial documents which is why this question to a financial amateur like a client is so worthwhile. Often this can be a great starting point and rich territory for creating an initial list of necessary recommendations and action items because people often know what needs to happen but they don’t know how to resolve it which is where your expertise comes to the rescue.
Help them determine what the first steps are and you’ll be on your way to being indispensable. You’ll find there’s often some obstacle either real or imagined that you can quickly knock out of the way and become a real hero in the process. This is a great place to start. Nothing will replace, you’re going through your own professional fact finder and your planning process to identify other financial gaps within your narrow field of expertise.
If you don’t have a fact finder already then talk to some professionals within your specialty or your professional association and create one right away. It’s a priority since this skill and everything else in the financial services industry is checklist driven or it should be and that begins with your own professional specialty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Tax Expert or an Estate Planning Lawyer or a Money Manager or a Financial Planning professional or an Insurance pro. It doesn’t matter. You need a fact finder.
Now, if you ever decide to deliver comprehensive financial services rather than staying focus on your individual area of financial specialization. We have a complete 142 point checklist to run through with each and every client annually.
Did you know that there were a 142 checklist items to make sure that a client’s entire financial house is in order?
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves or ahead of this concept of identifying and filling financial gaps which is the subject that we’re here to talk about.
Once you realize that it’s worth your time then routinely exposing a client’s financial gaps quickly becomes a habit. I’m sure you grasp the concept so I’ll just give you one more simple example of how to continually expose a client’s financial gaps and how it serves to exceed their expectations.
Now, ultimately this is going to result in increases of unsolicited client referrals. After alerting everyone in advance I routinely record every client interaction just for the purpose of later listening for clues about these financial gaps.
And by the way, if you’re not recording every client meeting and phone call. I recommend that you begin that today. I recall listening to a recording of a client progress meeting where a couple was talking about an upcoming trip to Germany and they were complaining to each other that they hadn’t quite gotten over they’re fatigue from their recent trip to Mexico City the week before.
That got me thinking about some of the travel hassles that they must be facing. I had of course notice that their personal travel budget was substantial but that wasn’t unusual for this kind of a client and for all I knew they were flying around this country, playing all the best golf courses or something, but in this recording it sounded to me like they might be travelling internationally in quite a bit so I asked them about it and sure enough, these clients travelled abroad on average 8x a year for extended trips. When I asked them how they arranged for local currency and spending money in this foreign countries they said they use credit cards a bit but mostly they went to currency windows at the airports and in the cities where they were visiting.
My team and I, we sprung into action, before they arrived for their next client progress meeting, we had obtained their itineraries for the next 12 months both the cities and the countries that they plan to go to. We’ve engaged the services of a private banker at their local bank after moving some money around so that they would qualify for that particular bank -private banking services.
With a little coordination, we arranged through the bank for them to receive much better exchange rates by asking the bank to reach out to their partner and affiliate banks in all these cities that they were planning to be visiting and then arranging for ample cash to be waiting for them when they arrived in the city. These banks didn’t have branches themselves in these other countries but they had partners and affiliate banks that they were friends with so some of these banks in the foreign countries asked that our clients visit a branch near their hotel but many believe it or not offered to deliver the cash directly to our client’s hotel’s safe so that the money would be waiting for them upon their arrival.
Yeah, they had signed a voucher or something but the money was sitting right there in the hotel safe waiting for them. We also shopped around and had our clients open a new credit card accounts which offered superior exchange rates. We prefilled all the credit card application forms and we asked our clients to simply sign here during their next client progress meeting in our offices.
The cards arrived before their next trip abroad and once abroad cash in the local currency was always waiting for them at their destination just as planned. I mean, they were literally amazed that we orchestrated all of this and we saved them several thousands of dollars annually, year after year as a result of these improved exchanged rates.
These clients are still telling the story today to everyone they know and everyone they love and everyone they care about, actually anyone who listen to the story. You see, when you identify a financial gap and then you do something extraordinary to fill the gap it’s normal for a person who’s pleasantly surprised like that to share the impressive story with others in their life and without even being asked to do it.
That is how you generate spontaneous unsolicited client referrals. If you’re anything like me you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds easier said than done.”
All I would say is, “Whoever told you that would be effortless to be different and better than more than 99% of the Financial Advisors out there.”
The best advice that I’ve ever received is: “If you’re going to go to the trouble of learning something new. Only do it if you’re learning directly from someone who’s actually done it successfully themselves.”
Never expect that you’re going to master a skill from someone who’s never done at themselves. By definition, they’re all talk. At least now, you clearly understand how to create a replicatable process for increasing unsolicited client referrals and knowing exactly where to go to learn step by step what to do to begin mastering the skill.
If you’re willing to invest some time allowing us to show you how, we’re happy to show you everything necessary to master the skill of continually exposing clients financial gaps and then filling those gaps by delivering extraordinary client experience.
If you’d like to invest more time understanding how to identify and fill your client’s various financial gaps, you can do so by becoming a free member of The Mark Of Mastery™ community.
You’ll get full access to all the Financial Advisor resources available at no charge to members including the free course –The Only Game in Town™: Ten Game-Changing Strategies For Financial Advisors.
Along with the course, we also provide you with a free workbook, which will give you more ideas about how to master this skill of filling your clients hard to find financial gaps in order to increase your value in the minds of your clients.
I’m Mark McKenna Little, and I look forward to meeting you over in The Mark Of Mastery™, free community for professional Financial Advisors.