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Be a Trusted Adviser: Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

“He told me he’d call me back, but I’m not going to hold my breath.” This is what I overheard someone say the other day. I’m not sure if she was talking about a business acquaintance or a potential boyfriend, but her tone was one of acceptance, not disappointment. In other words, she’d come to expect it from this guy.

One of the core components of a trusted adviser relationship is reliability: Can others count on you to do what you say you are going to do? Reliability is where actions meet intention. Planning to do something doesn’t mean that it actually gets done.

When your clients think of you, do they think of someone you communicates clear commitments and then consistently fulfills them? Or do they remember all the times you made a promise but then let it slip away?

Details matter. Your clients look to you as someone they can count on. They want you to say what you mean and mean what you say. If they can’t trust you to return a phone call or share a promised article, why should they trust you to fully implement a plan you’ve agreed on?

Here are three ways to improve your reliability in the eyes of your clients and prospective clients:

  • Set clear commitments and don’t make vague promises. Be very explicit in what you will do and by when. Don’t just say that you’ll send some paperwork over; tell them you will email the account transfer paperwork by 4 p.m. today.
  • Track your commitments. Whenever you commit to doing something, write it down immediately in a trusted place such as your planner or CRM. Otherwise, the “next thing” will come along, and you’ll forget (but your client likely won’t).
  • Reiterate your commitments. Gently remind your clients when you are fulfilling a promise. For example, “Here’s the account transfer paperwork I promised.”

When you follow these three principles, you communicate (to yourself and others) that you are a person who says what he means and means what he says. Isn’t that what people need and want from their trusted adviser?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in the Pathfinder Strategic Solutions blog. See it here

Adam Kornegay.jpg

Adam Kornegay is a co-founder of Pathfinder Strategic Solutions. He has a background in marketing and business analytics. Coupled with his experience as a financial adviser, he helps a broad array of clients, from relatively new advisers to experienced planners, and consults with various financial services firms. He is a coach in the Messaging and Marketing Strategies FPA Coaches Corner


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On the Long Road to Retirement, Checkpoints are Key

Short-term actions yield short-term effect. This is especially true in financial education, where a recent report from the Pension Research Council at The Wharton School found that programs that follow up with participants or that operate continuously are most effective.

Our financial lives aren’t static; they change throughout the retirement saving process.

It may be time to evolve past a one-and-done education strategy in favor of planning that’s both consistent and dynamic.

According to the study, financial education programs that included follow-ups delivered to employees around the age of 40 optimally enhance savings by close to 10 percent at the time of retirement. Assuming a retirement age of 67, employees who have been followed up with since age 40 will have logged nearly 30 years of personalized education by the time they retire. That adds up to a lot of opportunities for plan sponsors to continue to support employees by engaging through tactics that work best for the particularities of the demographic involved—whether through videos, print materials, live sessions or even podcasts.

To paraphrase an old political phrase about voting, “educate early, educate often.” An employee who planned to retire at 65 but didn’t save enough may be hard to reach, especially late in his career. Our previously mentioned well-served mid-career employee is bound to be more willing to listen and learn. The key takeaway you can impart to your clients is to establish enthusiasm and confidence in retirees at the outset of the planning process, then build a strategy based on this solid foundation.

Bridging the Retirement Conversation Gap

More education is good, but a consistent schedule of relevant follow-ups is even better. For example, companies might improve their enrollment protocol by offering a week of employee presentations and meetings instead of one afternoon. That’s an important step, but it still overlooks the fact that planning can take decades. Typically, conversations about retirement take place during two periods. The first discussion happens when the worker is first hired and probably covers plan details and enrollment policies. The second may not occur until the worker is near retirement, at which point it’s a little late to make adjustments.

To keep the lines of communication open and flowing, advisers can add value to their plan sponsor clients by helping them maintain an ongoing and varied dialogue with their plan participants. Consider staggering the delivery of materials so the recipient doesn’t feel overwhelmed, and craft a follow-up game plan to suit personality types, schedules and status (newly enrolled, on track, running behind, nearing retirement).

Following up with participants may also mean checking in on general financial concerns such as daily living costs and paying down debt. Perhaps they’d like to receive advice about overall financial wellness as well as retirement. Even if they’re not quite on track after receiving guidance, in many cases they’ll still feel better after a chat.

Another opportunity to add value may arise when participants who initially don’t qualify for a contribution matching program become eligible later on. Whether or not the matching policy is clearly articulated by the employer—and in a perfect world, it always would be—your clients can enhance their service model by staying on top of eligibility along with other details.

Retirement planning is a long road for everyone involved—advisers, plan sponsors and, of course, the retirees themselves. You might think about emphasizing the importance of follow-ups by comparing them to friendly inns along the way: they provide the perfect opportunity for all parties to reflect on how far they’ve come and prepare for the next stage of the journey.

Learn more about retirement strategies and solutions through Janus Henderson Investors’ Defined Contribution program.

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared on the Janus Henderson Blog here.

Ben Rizzuto

Ben Rizzuto, CRPS®, is a retirement director for Janus Henderson Investors. In his position Rizzuto works with financial advisers, platform partners, Janus Henderson colleagues and clients to find solutions for today’s increasingly difficult retirement issues, whether they be within retirement plans or for those clients that are trying to figure out how to retire on their own terms. He also contributes to the dialogue surrounding these issues as the host of the “Plan Talk” podcast and through periodic posts to the Janus Henderson Blog.


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Find Your WHY to WOW Your Clients

Why do clients do what they do? What makes them tick?

If you want to wow your clients, you have to understand this. However, the subtle art of delivering exceptional client experiences is as much about you as it is about them. Don’t believe me? Try this deceptively simple self-awareness exercise: for 24 hours, as you go about your daily tasks, ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”

The tough part of the process is being honest. Don’t let yourself off the hook with answers like, “I’m making coffee because I need caffeine,” or “I’m driving to work because I need to get to the office.” Even for the most mundane action, there often exists a deeper motivation for the things you do, a motivation which I’ll call here your WHY.

Your WHY is your supreme mission. It’s the underlying element that leads to purpose beyond self. For your business, it also goes beyond just making money. When you act in service to your WHY, you feel fulfilled, energized and better prepared to create WOW moments, which Knowledge LabsTM defines as unexpected, thoughtful gestures that make clients realize you offer a level of service unique to them.

Can you tell when people you interact with are merely going through the motions? Well, your clients can tell that too.

WHY Gets You to WOW … But How?

Two examples that illustrate remarkable client experiences.

I have a friend and mentor who is a successful trial attorney. His WHY is to ensure that no one in Florida is treated the way his brother was treated by a major theme park corporation after a tragedy years ago. He intentionally tethers to that narrative daily, and as a consequence, his clients are systematically WOWed. The client experience his firm generates is second to none.

Or consider the adviser who took his wife and daughters to a Celine Dion concert in Chicago. “We’re here for the Celine concert,” piped up one of his daughters to a hotel employee. On the day of the show, a different employee knocked on the adviser’s door and asked if the family would like to join Ms. Dion privately as she warmed up on the hotel piano—with permission from the star, of course. From a WHY of bringing lifelong memories to their guests, a WOW was born.

Asking and answering WHY your team does what it does is a key to world-class client experiences and brand burnishing. Live out a sincere WHY, and your business will thrive. In an era of exclamatory texts and gushing social media posts, it’s the “sincere” part that’s key here. You don’t actually love everything and think everything is amazing, but by this point such superlatives have become habitual. It’s time for you—and your team—to focus on a WHY that is both real and actionable.

Three Steps to Discovering Your Team’s WHY

Find answers to the following:

1.) What makes your team unique?

2.) The hero in your WHY is not you. Who is it?

3.) Talk through your unique idea for WHY with five close friends who have your best interest at heart.

WHY leads to WOW, you watch.

Learn how the Art of WOW, can help you cultivate extreme loyalty among existing clients and grow your business.

Editor’s note: A version of this post appeared on the Janus Henderson Blog. See it here

John L. Evans.jpg

John L. Evans Jr., Ed.D., is executive director, Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development at Janus Henderson Investors. In this role, Dr. Evans works with the Professional Development Team and provides extensive consulting, training and practice management expertise. He is a sought-after expert and keynote speaker. He regularly contributes to The Orlando Sentinel newspaper on business and politics and is featured in the Advisor Center section of Barron’s magazine. Dr. Evans has authored books on client retention and client acquisition, including The Book of WOW and “A Genuine Persuasion System.” He also serves on the board of advisers for the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Florida, and Elevate USA in Denver, Colorado. Prior to joining the financial services industry, Dr. Evans was special assistant to former U.S. Senator Connie Mack and director of business development for the state of Florida’s No. 1 registered investment advisory firm, according to Wealth Manager Magazine, for 2007. Dr. Evans holds an MBA from the University of Miami and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University.