These Simple Questions Made a Big Difference in the Second Meeting

Asking just a few clarifying questions can mean the difference between someone working with you or choosing to work with another advisor. We recently had a One-Page Plan delivery meeting with a client who had saved about 3 million for retirement, and he wanted to retire in the next two years. When we went just a little deeper into his concerns and asked a few key questions, that made all the difference in this second meeting.

During this One-Page Plan delivery meeting, we were going to review the investment plan and the topic came up about individual bonds, or funds, or ETFs and the difference between them. In the client’s mind, he had a pretty firm viewpoint that bond funds and ETFs were bad. He had a very strong conviction about this. We know that different people have different opinions which is good and fine. So, we just wanted to ask a few key questions to get a little deeper, to understand where he was coming from.

When we first seek to understand, we are then able to communicate in a way where we can be understood. But first, in this situation, it was all about understanding where he was coming from. If we didn’t do that, we could have explained the reasoning as to why bonds might fit into his portfolio, but instead we just asked, tell us a little more about that. What is it about bonds that you don’t agree with, or that you don’t like?

What We Learned

As we listened to his problems, we learned that he was invested in a 30-year treasury bond fund, which can fluctuate quite a bit. And in his mind, he thought the bond portion of the portfolio should be more conservative and be a ballast, or a shock absorber, to the portfolio. He didn't see how bonds can be a shock absorber if they're going to fluctuate that much. Once we understood where he was coming from, we were able to talk more intelligently to ease his mind. We talked about some of the concerns that he had and how to set up a bond portfolio the right way.

The other thing that we learned by seeking first to understand was that he was rebalancing. He believed that he had that covered, but he was using time-based rebalancing versus trigger-based rebalancing, like we do at Streamline. By explaining that, we were able to add in what we could do, beyond what he's doing right now.

The last thing we learned from him was how he wasn't using tax-loss harvesting because he didn't want to buy into a similar fund and negate those losses with 30-day wash sale. He was a little bit concerned about the IRS rules around that. So, we talked over the strategies about how to do this and make sure that we’re nowhere close to that 30-day wash rule and still able to stay invested the entire time.

Increase Your Value

All in all, seeking first to understand, before trying to be trying to be understood, served us well in this conversation. It ended up increasing our value because we were able to share these strategies that he currently wasn't utilizing. So, remember to truly try to understand your clients, and your prospective clients, before trying to provide solutions. It's like what Carl Richard says about diagnosing their problem and really understanding the problem before prescribing the solution or the medicine. They'll feel more heard, and then they'll be able to receive whatever you have to say next, if there's possible solution. That makes a big, big difference.

If you'd like a process in how to communicate your value in the first and second meeting using this four-part value formula, click here for a free training video.

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