Written By: Kelly Straub
As financial advisors, we are entrusted with the financial futures of individuals and married couples. When working with couples, additional variables affect the decisions that will influence the portfolio’s direction, as well as the longevity of your relationship with both partners. Eighty percent of women will change advisors after losing a spouse. Establishing a strong relationship with both partners has been a large part of my success, allowing me and my team to continue serving clients even after divorce or death.
There are countless ways to establish strong advisor-client relationships with couples, but I’ve seen a few stand out as the most effective.
Create space for conversation
One of the best ways to immediately make anyone feel welcome and comfortable is to address them by name. This helps ensure both spouses feel heard during the planning process. It’s important to assess the couple’s respective personalities and how they interact with one another. Generally, one half of the couple is more likely to answer questions in a session, but receiving feedback and input from both is essential to designing a financial plan that meets their collective needs. Facilitate an open conversation by directly addressing both halves of the couple and asking pointed questions about key planning details, such as their perspective on risk tolerance or long-term care planning measures.
Don’t treat them as a unit, and rather get to know them individually
Working to effectively engage both spouses provides an opportunity to get to know each on an individual level. This allows you to properly assess their needs and preferences. We often observe stark differences when discussing items like risk tolerance or long-term care planning. Relationships with money can also differ, so one person might have a “saver” mentality while their partner might be less concerned about financial wellness. Appealing to both types of personalities can help make your relationship a lasting one.
One way to get to know each person as an individual is by asking questions. People want to do business with someone they know, like and trust. I try to spend 80% of my time asking clients questions about their lives, wishes, goals and dreams, and 20% of the time sharing ideas. If you can strike this balance, clients will see you as a great listener, be more likely to trust you and share more openly with you.
View life events as opportunities for touch points
You build deep-seated relationships with clients because you truly care for them. Showing — not just telling — them how much you care can make a great difference in the longevity of your client relationships. Remembering key life events, like a milestone birthday, a child going off to college, a wedding anniversary, and marking them with thoughtful gestures like cards or small gifts is incredibly meaningful for clients. This must be a genuine action in order to truly resonate. For example, if a client has lost a spouse to cancer, making a charitable donation to a cancer research group could be very meaningful. The little things often go a long way, differentiates your service from others, and solidifies the relationship.
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The key to successfully working with couples is not that different from working with clients, in general. However, the extra effort made to solidify a relationship with both spouses can greatly impact overall success. The goal with any couple is to help them get what they want out of life. By doing that, we will be successful as well.
At Merit Financial Advisors, we are focused on helping advisors grow their businesses, as well as implementing strategies and ideas that elevate client satisfaction and drive long-term success. There are a number of ways to join us, including our Independent Advisor Partners program, acquisitions, and ongoing coaching and mentorship. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help you.