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6 Questions for Financial Advisors to Ask Clients to Build Trust and Loyalty

Date: August 16, 2023

A Morningstar survey of clients who had recently fired their financial advisors found that 32% cited the quality of financial advice or services, and 21% said it was due to the quality of their relationship with their advisor. Another study on the topic revealed that 72% of clients cited lack of communication as a major reason for leaving. Meanwhile, 51% of clients felt like the advisor didn’t understand their goals.

These results all highlight the importance of clear communication and making an effort to tailor your service to the unique goals of each client. The best way to do that is by asking the right questions to make sure everyone is on the same page. Here are six questions for financial advisors to ask clients during meetings that will help set expectations, build trust, and improve client satisfaction. 

The 6 Questions to Ask in Your Meetings to Ensure Clients Feel Understood and Cared for

Asking questions is one of the best ways to check in with your clients and make sure you’re delivering the value that they’re looking for. Whether you’re meeting with a prospect or a long-term client, you can make those meetings more productive by asking questions that engage the client, avoid miscommunication, and set the right expectations.

Have you ever worked with a financial advisor before? If so, what made you leave?

For new or prospective clients, this is one of the most productive questions you can ask in that first meeting. If they have worked with an advisor before, it’s a chance to gain clear insight into exactly what went wrong and what you need to do to keep this client satisfied with your service. 

If they haven’t worked with an advisor before, it’s an opportunity to clarify what their expectations are and ensure they start off with a clear idea of what a financial advisor can do and how they can get the most out of this relationship. 

Do you work with an attorney, accountant, tax professional, or anyone else?

This is a good question to ask at the start of a new relationship. One of the best ways to up the level of service and client satisfaction is to collaborate with other professionals that are handling this client’s financial affairs. Even if you don’t communicate with these other professionals directly, it helps to make a note so that you can remind clients when they need to send or request documents. 

What are the top financial goals and are you currently accomplishing them?

This helps to get the ball rolling and ensure that you’re tailoring the discussion to their specific goals. Instead of a generic value proposition based on what you think they’re looking for, you can give a more personalized explanation of how your services can help them achieve the goals they care about most.  

It also gets clients engaged in the meeting and the planning process generally. This can improve their understanding of the advice you’re giving and increase the chances of them actually following through on your recommendations. That, in turn, can ensure that clients feel like they’re getting real value out of your service. 

If you could fast-forward to the future, what does your ideal retirement look like? 

Sometimes, clients might not have a clear idea of what their financial goals are. In that case, it can help to ask questions like this to help them identify their goals. For example, the answer to this question can give you a better sense of the quality of life they expect to have and what kind of expenses will come with that. You can then translate that into a concrete financial goal that will enable them to achieve that ideal retirement. 

You can do the same with other common topics in financial planning, estate planning, or wealth management if they’re struggling to identify specific goals in any of these areas. 

What are the biggest concerns or threats to your financial stability and success that you worry about?

In addition to helping clients achieve their goals, advisors also need to make clients feel safer and more confident in their financial situation. To do that, you need to know what kind of fears or worries weigh on that client’s mind. 

Perhaps they have an aging parent who may soon need full-time care and they worry the cost of that could interfere with their retirement savings goals. Maybe they’re just generally nervous about market volatility and the risks of investing. 

Either way, asking this question can help uncover those concerns and give you a chance to explain how your advice or services can address them so they leave that meeting feeling more confident in their financial situation.

Do you have any questions?

It’s a good idea to check in regularly to make sure your client is still on the same page as you, especially if you were just explaining a complicated financial topic. To make sure your client actually feels comfortable asking the questions that are on their mind, be specific with your phrasing. For example, if you just gave a detailed explanation of how a Roth IRA conversion works and why you think it makes sense for them, ask if there’s anything else they need to know about the process or ask if there are any issues or concerns they have about the idea. 

Couch Your Advice as a Question to Invite Engagement 

Instead of just telling clients what you recommend, phrase it as a question. For example, “What do you think about investing your current college fund savings into a 529 plan?” This opens up the topic for conversation and can make the client feel more comfortable asking for clarification and voicing any concerns they might have. It also engages them in the financial planning process, which can ensure that they understand the how and why of what you’re recommending and the services you are providing. 

Ask for Annual Feedback

Another great way to keep clients engaged and feeling like a priority is to send out a short survey at the end of the year to get their feedback on your service. You can tag this as an annual summary of the recommendations and services you provided so that they have a convenient reference of exactly what value you provided over the year. 

Then, ask a few quick questions to gauge how they feel about their financial situation and a couple of open-ended questions about your service. For example, some questions you might add to the survey include:

  • Are you more confident about your financial situation now than you were a year ago?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how confident are you that you’re on track to meet your financial goals?
  • Looking ahead, what is your most pressing financial concern going into the new year?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the advice or service you received?
  • What can I change or do better to serve you in the year ahead?

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