I Love the First Meeting with a Potential Client

By: Matthew Aitchison
Managing Director
Clear Vision Financial Planning

I get to meet someone new and find about who they really are; where they are now and what their dreams and aspirations are for the future. I find the stories of other people inspirational. If we can help them live a bigger future going forward, that’s very exciting.

The broad purpose of this meeting is for us to decide if we want to work together and whether there is value in working together. Simply, do we like each other, and will the client get value from the process? But how do we actually do this?

For me, this starts with getting to know the person across from me. I want to build rapport and establish if they will be enjoyable to work with. After all, we will hopefully be working together for many years to come! I want to come out of the room (or Zoom) with a picture of who the person is, what is important to them and what they want to achieve with their life.

Ask good open questions

It’s been said before, but the key here is to talk a lot less, and listen a lot more. For most people, their favourite subject to talk about is themselves. The chances are, that no-one else has asked them! Ask good open questions and encourage the client to open up to you. Remember, they may have no idea what to expect from this meeting, or worse, have preconceived ideas that you want to know all about their pensions. Ask them about their story, ask them about their family, ask them about their desired future. If they say something interesting, follow them down that rabbit hole. It’s these unexpected snippets that can be gold in setting life goals.

This part of the meeting should take the majority of the meeting. The more you know, the better. Why? Because the better you know the client, the better you will know how you can add value. You can then give a high-level overview of how you can help them. Here’s a rule for you though, none of this high-level stuff should involve products if possible. You can mention reviewing assets for efficiency, but that is it! This high-level value needs to focus on how you can help the client meet their life goals as well as broad tangible and intangible benefits that you believe you can bring to the client.

At this stage, you generally don’t need to go into detail about tax savings and lower costs. But you should at least have an idea of where you can add value. But what if you can’t add any value? In this case, there is an argument that you shouldn’t be trying to get them to become a client.

No more than five minutes about you

Lastly, I want the client to understand the process of working with us, how we can help and the fees involved. This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s just a clear assessment of why they would get value from working with us and what that might look like. If you want to have a ‘pitch’ speech prepared, go for it. But the rules are, it can’t be more than 5 minutes and has to come at the very end of the meeting.

This meeting sets up your working relationship from now until the end of time …

It needs to start with the focus on the client and how you can help them. If it starts with the focus on selling a product, asset gathering or how good you are, that becomes the focus of the relationship.


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