6 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid During a First Meeting With Clients

Discovery meetings are a routine part of onboarding new clients. Whether you are a new financial advisor or a seasoned one, you should remember that these meetings can offer a lot in terms of laying a solid groundwork for relationships with new clients.

Most importantly, discovery meetings offer you an early opportunity to begin putting together a picture of your new client and their needs. They also offer an opportunity for you to fine-tune what you have to offer them according to the information that they present.

Given the importance of discovery meetings, you don’t want anything getting in the way. To make the most of these early meetings, here are a few things to avoid during the onboarding process.

1. Avoid Talking Over the Client

Listening is a key component of getting to know who your clients are as well as what their goals are. Instead of droning on about yourself and your business, be prepared to listen to your client open up about themselves and what they hope to gain from your business relationship. Be ready to ask pertinent follow-up questions.

While you certainly want a new client to understand your qualifications, it’s not always the best approach to focus on your own resume. If you demonstrate that you are interested in the client’s goals, then you can present your qualifications according to those goals as useful. This way the client can leave that first meeting confident that you are a good fit to assist them.

2. Avoid Only Asking Standard Questions

You may be tempted to stick to the routine questions, but it is important not only to ask questions that help you gain an understanding of the client’s situation but also those that help you get to know the client as a person.

If you are looking to save some time, a basic written questionnaire can be helpful for you to get to know a potential client. This can also be used as a jumping off point to ask more in-depth questions during the in-person interview. You can do your research via social media (interests, hobbies, etc.) to learn a little about your client and then ask specific questions based on this research. The goal is to ask thoughtful questions that lead to a strong rapport with clients.

3. Avoid Listening Without Making Notes

With the client’s permission, you should take basic notes that will allow you to remember key parts of your conversation. It is a great way for you to show interest. Taking notes will also help you to remember useful information for later use as you develop financial plans for your client. Unless you have an amazing memory, it’s better to jot down a few notes than to trust your mind to keep track of every key detail about a new client.

4. Avoid Being Too Impersonal

Odds are, clients are not just looking for additional information about their finances, they are also looking for someone that they can trust. And an in-person interview is the perfect way to establish an idea of what kind of financial advisor you are. On a more personal level, it is a chance for the potential client to see whether you might be a good fit for them on a long-term investment basis.

Without talking over the client, you can incorporate a more personal introduction into your pitch. If you ask lots of good questions, then you can share some details about yourself as well. Don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable. If you have made mistakes in the past that your client could learn from, be open about them.

Be positive, congenial, enthusiastic, and engaged. Make sure to make eye contact, and welcome clients properly so that they feel you are happy to see them.

5. Avoid Getting Too Technical

There is no need to get too technical about information and numbers right off the bat. Focus on understanding the client instead–especially their financial goals and worries. Don’t focus on what you would rather talk about, and instead focus on what the client wishes to speak about and go from there. There is always time at later meetings to go into intricate details about their financial plans. You don’t want clients to walk away overwhelmed with information, so it is better to put more emphasis on building a positive relationship.

6. Avoid Making Too Many Promises

It is key to manage client expectations appropriately from the beginning. Make sure to ask questions so that you can understand what a client expects from you. Pay attention to concerns that they have had about previous experiences with financial advisors. Once you understand what it is they expect from you, you can give realistic parameters to their expectations. Remind them that while many things in the financial market are out of your control, you will consistently provide a certain type of service over the long term.

The first meeting with a client is a great opportunity to establish a relationship, build rapport, and demonstrate your abilities according to the information and expectations that the client presents.

Contact me for more advice about how to market yourself as a financial advisor. As a coach for wealth managers, I help people in financial services be accountable in realizing their short-term and long-term goals for success.