Financial Planner Trust Gap: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier to Bridge It
Picking up the phone or sending an email to a Financial Planner for the first time; it’s a big deal.
I was chatting with a Financial Planner last week, and we talked about how we often underestimate what a big deal this is.
After all, we know that we’re friendly people, able to put even the most nervous client at ease with our hard-earned skills and experience.
But for new clients, especially those who have never worked with a Financial Planner before, it can be a scary prospect.
To ease the making of that phone call or sending of that email, we need to bridge what I call the trust gap. The trust gap is the gap between the current perceived level of trust in you as a professional and how much faith is needed before an engagement can take place.
How do we bridge the Financial Planner trust gap? Here are ten suggestions.
1 – Describe the process
You know the steps involved in the Financial Planning process and what’s typically included in an initial meeting. Does your prospective client?
By talking about what to expect and describing the process, you can help bridge the trust gap, removing the fear of the unknown.
When was the last time you went back to basics and wrote a blog about what to expect from the first meeting with you?
You could take this a step further and make a short video, showing prospective clients highlights from a typical meeting.
2 – Show the whites of your eyes
Something is reassuring about seeing what a person looks like before you call or email them.
As a bare minimum, you need to have your photograph on your website and social media profiles. It should be a) up to date, b) natural (no cheesy mottled blue backdrops, please), and c) consistent across different channels.
Go a step further by sharing videos or podcasts. There’s something particularly compelling about using voice to bridge the trust gap. Listening to a voice via a podcast is a rather intimate experience, helping a prospective client feel like they know you before you meet for the first time.
3 – Commit to transparency
If there’s one thing that’s bound to put clients off getting in touch, it’s fear of being ripped off.
By taking steps to show you’ve got nothing to hide, this fear is quickly removed
An easy win in this column is publishing details of your fees on your websites. Fee transparency is an instant trust builder because it shows you are honest and upfront about how you earn your living.
Clients don’t fit in cute little boxes, so it’s not always straightforward to publish details of a catch-all fee that will cover every circumstance. Sharing details of a range of possible charges is fine too, with the caveat a precise number will be confirmed before you start work.
But failing to share your fees at all is a dangerous strategy in this increasingly price sensitive world. Let’s face it; even Porsche publish their prices online.
4 – Stay local
A few years ago I met with a group of solicitors for lunch. They told me about the many approaches they get from financial advisers, all keen to form a working relationship. The reason they bat away these approaches? The advisers in question have no ties to the local area.
Doing business where you live, work and play makes so much sense from the perspective of building client trust. If I live in a local community, there’s an inherent incentive to behave myself and keep promises as we do business.
Financial Planners should become a vital part of the place they live and do business. Whether that’s through sponsorship of local events, the leadership of local organisations or regular volunteering to make the lives of local people better, you need to be known and respected in your locality.
5 – Become highly visible
Becoming highly visible follows on naturally from the previous tip. To bridge the Financial Planner trust gap, you need to up your visibility.
We are more naturally inclined to trust people who we feel we know. Given a choice between engaging with two professional advisers, most people will pick the one who is visible instead of the one who is an online and real-world ghost.
Boosting your visibility means being easily found online (there’s nothing worse than a Google result showing little or no content) and being well connected in the right social and professional circles.
Get out there, both digitally and in the real world, and make yourself highly visible.
6 – Get third-party endorsements
It’s one thing to say ‘trust me’. It’s another level entirely for others to say ‘trust him’ or ‘trust her’.
Third-party endorsements are a powerful way to bridge the trust gap because they demonstrate others trust you.
In addition to getting and displaying endorsements from satisfied clients, other credible sources are referrals from professional contacts and tacit approval from journalists.
Each time your name is published in the press, readers of that publication trust you a little more because the mere fact of your inclusion is viewed as an endorsement.
7 – Oh, oobee doo
We trust people like us. If your prospective client is at home wearing jeans and your image is a sharp suit, you might be increasing the trust gap by appearing unlike them.
This is not about being something you’re not. Authenticity counts.
If your target clients are the superyacht set, you won’t do yourself any favours in bluffing or faking status.
Be yourself and aspire to work with clients who are broadly like you, sharing similar values and interests.
8 – Answer common questions
Each time a new client picks up the phone to you, they are bound to ask a lot of questions. You should start making a note of these questions and then making the answers readily available.
This could take the form of a FAQ page on your website. Perhaps you could write a series of blog posts or record some short videos to answer the most common new client questions.
Putting this sort of content out there is a great way to overcome any prospective client jitters, and to show that you care about their understanding of how the relationship will work.
9 – Ease into the relationship
When you go on a first date, you don’t immediately try to seal the deal or propose marriage. At least I hope you don’t.
Rather than attempting to move a website visitor to an engaged client in one fell swoop, consider a more staged approach instead.
Perhaps you could offer your website visitor something of value, in return for their email address. Over weeks, you could keep them updated with regular emails and informative newsletters.
Instead of offering a scary face-to-face meeting, could they get to know you a little better first with a webinar or Facebook Live?
Don’t rush a prospective client into your meeting room if they’re not ready for the commitment just yet. Give them a series of baby steps along the way, each strengthening trust levels before they take the plunge and become a client.
10 – Give them something tangible
We live in an increasingly intangible world. Email is great, but compared to a written letter, it’s a brief form of communication.
Could you give a prospective client something they can touch and experience, rather than a transient digital message?
I’m a big fan of printed client magazines for this very reason. At a time when the competition is moving almost entirely to digital marketing, there’s a lot of room created for more traditional printed materials.
What steps are you taking to bridge the Financial Planner trust gap before that all-important first meeting?How easy are you making it for new clients to pick up the phone or send you an email? Here are ten ways to bridge the Financial Planner trust gap. Click To Tweet