When I speak at client events, I arrive early and stay late. I have fun chatting with clients. I like to know what’s on their minds. Their concerns are varied yet predictable. There are rarely any surprises. I am especially interested in the relationship between the clients and the advisor. For whatever reason, the advisors who tend to do client appreciation events are seasoned, so the relationships often span several years. The clients’ feelings are almost always positive and their admiration for the advisor evident. They are not disgruntled or they wouldn’t be at the event. Again, no surprises, for the most part. 

Once in a while, however, I do get surprised by seeing something out of the ordinary. I come across situations where the clients don’t just admire their advisor. They love the advisor. They love their advisor so much that they would feel guilty even thinking about doing business with someone else. Their advisor is special and the relationships are hallowed. People literally say, “We love our advisor.” I’m sure you will not be surprised when I tell you that the bigger the love, the more engaging the personality. The more engaging the personality, the more successful the advisor.      

I always ask them why they love their advisor. What makes this person special? Never once has the answer concerned itself with the hardware of our business: the advisor’s organizational skills, attention to detail, problem-solving ability or investment strategy. The answer always concerns itself with the software.  He makes me feel smart. She has a wonderful attitude. He is a great listener. She always asks me questions I can answer. What they are really saying is I like my advisor. I trust my advisor. My advisor is my friend.

We have to know how to do the job. We need the hard skills. But hard skills, what we know, just get us in the game. The degree of success we achieve is predicated upon the soft skills, who we are. There are plenty of times in the life of an advisor when you don’t need to use your hard skills. I cannot imagine a day going by that you don’t need your soft skills. Very few people will do business with an advisor with poor people skills.

Every time I walk away from one of these encounters, I am reminded how remarkably simple our business is. Clients are not looking for an education. Clients are looking for someone they can trust. They are looking for someone to represent them. Are you one of them or are you one of us? 

Clients don’t want financial plans and managed accounts and deferred annuities. They want to educate their children and retire. They don’t want our products. They want what our products can do for them. They don’t want choices. They want satisfaction. They don’t want the numbers side of you. They want the human side of you. 

Clients aren’t objective. They are emotional. When a head of household gets a financial plan in case he lives and life insurance in case he dies, these are not objective decisions. These are subjective decisions, permeated with emotion. The advisor who understands this and acts accordingly is beloved for his or her humanity. 

In every case where clients tell me they absolutely love their advisors, the advisors have wonderful soft skills. It’s obvious they love being advisors. Across the board, they are passionate. They give their clients more than the clients expect to receive. They are likeable. Bottom line, clients do business with advisors they like and they go where they get the best experience.   

Don Connelly is a speaker, motivator and educator for financial advisors. If you want to ignite your performance, be sure to check http://www.donconnelly247.com/ learning center and follow Don Connelly & Associates on twitter - @DonConnelly.