Empathy – the art of “getting” clients

Wealth Solutions

Empathy – the art of “getting” clients

Advisors need to put themselves in the shoes of their clients to understand their financial needs

Empathy is a word that has recently appeared more frequently in financial trade magazines as advisors shift the focus of their conversations with clients, primarily baby boomers, to issues relevant to living well in the new longevity. These include healthcare, housing, transportation and caregiving. Ironically, most advisors today, when surveyed, do not list empathy as one of the primary reasons they believe their clients conduct business with them. At the same time, when retail investors are asked for the primary reasons they entrust their assets to a specific advisor, empathy can be found on that list. Why is that? One explanation is that even though empathy is in demand, the number one priority according to many, it is not proactively requested. “I am looking for an advisor that can provide long-term planning and empathy” is not something financial advisors often hear.

Advisors who put themselves in the shoes of their clients, who think as they do, realize that in order to understand the financial needs of anyone they must first encourage that person to express their concerns about the future. For that reason, the “Three Questions That Predict Future Quality Of Life” have resonated with financial advisors and clients alike. These questions, developed by the MIT AgeLab , are as follows:

  1. Who will change my light bulbs?
  2. How will I get an ice cream cone?
  3. Who will I have lunch with?

These questions have a lot more to do with retirement planning than you may think. These questions relate to a plan for maintaining your home, having adequate transportation and independence to make the trips you want to make and, more than just a meal, the ability to maintain the emotional attachments of your social network. Asking these types of questions is important because they are realistic and relevant to what is really on your client’s minds. Not only do your clients want to discuss these issues, they are waiting for you to ask about them! These conversations are the responsibility of the advisor to initiate with your clients. 



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