As an industry, awareness is increasing about the wide range of client needs – both the commonalities and the dissimilarities. Gender, age, ethnicity, economic background and other factors all come together to create the filter through which our clients make financial decisions.
However, while most firms understand there is no such thing as the typical client, it’s easy to fall into the trap of familiarity, making assumptions and routine recommendations. Learning to truly customize the intake, diagnostic, decision-making and follow-up processes for the needs of every client requires purposeful training, effort and monitoring.
That said, it’s worth the extra time. With a deeper client understanding in place, we can make adjustments that lead to more satisfied clients and a growing practice.
The next time you meet a new client, tune-in to these three variables and think about how to customize your approach accordingly:
- Marital status: When the client is married, you really have two clients, even if you have never met the client’s spouse or partner. Understanding how household financial responsibilities are shared is essential for a long-term relationship with the client. In a growing number of households, the female partner is the higher earner and an equal partner in financial decisions. A widowed client may have adult children who are now, or will be involved in financial decision making. Both situations can lead to a surprise loss or opportunities to serve the client’s broader needs. To maximize your service, it’s important to get to know all the stakeholders.
- Longevity propensity: It’s no surprise that gender, generational group (Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, etc.), and health history, contribute to the longevity of the client. Those factors can serve as guideposts to diagnose needs specific to longevity. The client likely to survive his/her spouse may need additional protection of retirement assets. Long-term care insurance may also be critical to the goal of achieving financial security. These same indicators will guide your approach to disability insurance protection. A younger client may need an affordable IDI policy, while a client approaching retirement (with greater risk of illness/injury and retirement savings risk) may want more robust coverage.
- Attitudes towards money and finances: Culture, societal roles, and education levels, influence the client’s comfort level with financial decisions and products. The unasked question or unstated concern is the advisor’s adversary. Spend some time discerning how comfortable the client is working with a professional. Do they see the advisor as a partner? Is there an underlying, unstated mistrust? Transparency and authentic interest will overcome many unspoken client reservations.
DIS is here to help you grow your practice. Our sales partners have access to the best products on the market and can provide you with extensive marketing support. Contact us to learn more, and download our free client handout, “Asset Protection for Every Life Phase.”