Why You Do What You Do

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  I’ve seen this remark attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, Zig Ziglar, John C. Maxwell, and others.

As the original author rightly notes, trust is not just your credibility (though that certainly plays a part).  Nor is it about your reliability (though fulfilling expectations is important as well).

If credibility is the head and reliability is the action, then motivation is the heart.

Simply stated, motivation answers the question, “Why?”

Clients want a financial planner who is genuinely committed to putting their clients’ interests above their own, not because it is mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do. They want to have confidence that their advisor is on their side with no hidden agenda or self-serving objectives.

Given historical skepticism toward financial professionals, establishing trust means consistently demonstrating your motivation – why you do what you do.

For financial advisors and financial planners, here are three ways to communicate your client-first perspective.

  1. Ask Thoughtfully. Ask questions that encourage expansive answers and demonstrate your interest.  Open-ended questions that begin with words like “how” or “what” or “tell me” promote thoughtful answers.  Don’t think of your questions as simply a means to gather information.  They provide an important bridge to meaningful connections.
  2. Listen Intently. While the other person is speaking, pay attention!  It can be tempting to use that time to 1) determine an appropriate response, or 2) think of a follow-up question.  According to Stephen R. Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Be the advisor who is laser-focused on what your client is telling you.
  3. Answer Fully. Answer every question as comprehensively as possible. Don’t lie, exaggerate, or leave out key information.  Speak in terms of what it means to your client, not what it means to you.  Use client-friendly language, not industry jargon.  Then follow-up with a confirmation: “Does that make sense?  Did I explain that clearly?”

Your willingness to make clear your motivation through thoughtful questions, careful listening, and thorough answers will lead directly to lasting, trust-based relationships.

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