meeting new clients

Make a Strong First Impression With Clients

Gone are the days when financial advisors could show up and expect to get paid 1% on client assets for just delivering an investment portfolio.

The next generation of customers wants impeccable service. They want real value. Over the next few posts, I’d like to share some steps I’ve found critical in the financial planning process – milestones that build incremental trust and cement lifelong relationships.

I’ll start with the way you react to a client’s data. When you’re looking at their net worth statement on the beautifully designed Elements® app (shameless plug), your client is waiting to hear your first impression. What will your first comments be after the client has shared their basic facts with you?

Keep in mind that this person has just shared something very personal. Something private. Something they certainly don’t share with very many people. In fact, you might be the first person they’ve ever shared this information with, especially in a comprehensive context.

It’s vital that you take this responsibility very seriously. You are a trusted counselor, and you realize that your client may be self-conscious about their financial progress. Whether they’re objectively rich or poor, they may be in real need of empathy from you. At this time they’ll need your support. Some validation.

One of the first mistakes I see advisors make at this early stage is to jump into showcasing their expertise. You are smart. We all know this. You have some impressive credentials and advanced degrees. But that’s not why the client hired you over all the other smart people. For some reason, they believe they can trust you.

With that in mind, don’t react immediately when you see a red flag. Resist the temptation to fly into advice delivery mode. Instead, take a minute to build some trust.

“Well, first of all. I just want you to know that I really appreciate your willingness to share your private and personal information with me. It takes a lot of courage to engage a financial advisor, and I want you to know that I take my responsibility very seriously. I think we can accomplish some great things together.”

Sometimes clients who have substantial wealth, feel they know more than the advisors they are talking to (and in some cases, this might be true). Many times, in this first meeting, they just want to see how you react to their data. Your initial reactions can make the difference between their continuing the relationship or shopping for another more capable individual.

With that in mind, don’t react. The numbers are just numbers. They’re not a sign of brilliance, intelligence, or power. Your job is to get past the numbers and understand what’s driving the client.

This is a time for more questions.

“If you don’t mind––can you talk to me a little about your rental property? I’d like to know why you’ve chosen to accumulate wealth this way.“


“Do you mind sharing with me some of your thoughts about investing? I’m curious why you’ve chosen to hold a relatively large amount of cash in the bank––we both know that can be a big opportunity cost.”


“I can see that you have a pretty significant amount of wealth concentrated in your business. Would you mind talking to me a little about how you arrived at the valuation? As you know, that has a huge impact on our overall strategy.”

Really it comes down to this; relationships start with first impressions. I’ve found the best impressions happen when I am prepared, inquisitive, and empathetic. When I eliminate any fear of judgment and elevate trust with the client through affirming conversations with lots of sincere questions.

Opportunities are incredibly abundant right now. There is a new market being created, with new revenue that simply hasn’t existed in the past. You have an exciting opportunity to harvest the same product that has been the heart of successful financial services for decades: Trust.

People are willing to pay more for trust today than they were in previous years. Why? Because trust is becoming increasingly rare.

Fortunately, that’s something you can earn. Now go earn it.


Of course, a solid piece of technology that makes fact-finding a breeze for both you and your client can make all the difference. Come check out Elements® with me sometime. I’d love to show you how big of a difference it has made in my practice.

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