This week I met a husband and wife, in their late 30’s/early 40’s, with two young children. Both were busy professionals, earning good incomes and juggling the responsibilities of a growing family. They had found my company Eqeus on the internet and decided to take up our offer of a complimentary financial planning consultation.
Growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s, I learned at a young age that we each have two ears and one mouth and we should probably use them in that ratio. When conducting initial consultations with prospective clients, I always like to record the first meeting, enabling me to focus on what’s being said as opposed to furiously scribbling notes.
A wise old adviser gave me some sage advice many years ago. He said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
As a result, the question I ask myself before every new client interview is: “What can I do to show this couple how much I care, before I show them how much I know?
The best mechanism I’ve found is also the most simple. I can show I care by asking them the only question which really matters:
“So tell me why you’re here”
This is the very cornerstone of the Eqeus way. We see couples like this as more than just prospective clients, we see them as stakeholders in our business. These are the people we want to work with, whose futures we want to safeguard and whose lives we hope to impact in a positive way.
Why do I tend to start my first consultations with an open ended question like “Tell me why you’re here” Firstly because I’ve found it to be the single quickest and most effective way to get to the heart of the discussion. It also avoids me trying to put the cart before the horse by talking about our products and services, how we charge and the type of returns we deliver for our customers, before I have the foggiest idea what they may want or need from a financial adviser.
So back to the couple that came to see me last week. The main reason they were seeking advice was:
To create a solid financial plan.
Have someone review their current financial affairs and provide some guidance
Get an independent view of how they were tracking and explain where potentially they had some room for improvement
Once I had a better understanding of their why I could then start answering some of their specific questions and providing some context from similar couples whose financial affairs we helped manage. Based on our detailed research and the fact that I’m in a similar stage of life myself, I could intimately understand the challenges faced by this couple.
I know from our research that many couples feel out of control with their finances and
That this leads to higher levels of stress and anxiety
I also know that those people who set goals and use a financial planner to stay accountable to their financial plan, tend to be far less stressed and are more optimistic about their future.
My goal with this couple, as it is with all of our clients here at Eqeus, is to offer them guidance, advice and above all confidence, as they plot their financial course in life. The technical components, product offerings and financial planning tools are all important, but to me gaining a clear and accurate understand of somebody’s Why is undoubtedly the most important step on the journey.