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Financial worries are common. Worrying about money in general: paying the bills, debt and future financial security along with other financial concerns are among the top things people worry about. It’s the responsibility of those qualified to give financial advice, such as certified financial planners, to use the knowledge gained through their financial planning program and help their clients sleep better at night rather than stressing about money.
If you have completed the Certified Financial Planner program (CFP), you have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, experience and ethics to examine the entire financial picture of your client, at the highest level of complexity required of the profession. But most importantly, a CFP certification invokes customer confidence and trust in your ability to help them.
Certification Alone is Not Enough
Trust is perhaps the biggest part of helping clients reduce their financial stress. You can make all the plans in the world based on your knowledge and experience gained from your Certified Financial Planner program, but if your client doesn’t trust you, or the plans to be accurate and effective, their stress and worry will linger. One of the first steps towards creating a trusting relationship is to openly talk about their dreams, aspirations, short and long-term goals and gain as much understanding about them and their life.
Secondly, money is always a loaded topic, so it’s important to talk about in detail and normalise the subject. Money isn’t just about money. How our parents dealt with financial stress, how people around us thought and talked about money, how our self-worth is tied to money – all play a factor. By simply talking about money, you’ll help to build trust.
Show your clients your track record, but avoid bragging. Be honest. Show them what you’ve accomplished for other similar clients and ensure you are always open to questions and concerns. You must be prepared to not only illustrate skills and education from finance courses, but also the empathy that shows that you understand their concerns.
Follow the Plan, But Be Flexible
No matter what, people are going to have monkey wrenches thrown into their lives and most times, this will impact their finances. If you took the Certified Financial Planner program, you must’ve learned to set plans that allow for some of life’s drama. Having a plan that accommodates unexpected challenges, and yet helps your clients achieve their financial goals is the way forward. Your job is essentially to monitor how the plan is working.
Make Changes as Needed
Unfortunately, sometimes, after creating a plan, some new information may crop up, which may compel you to change a few things. But one should resist the urge to change a client’s plan unless necessary.
Clients too may hear of this financial scheme and that and suggest they invest in that as well. But rather than jumping ship, certified financial planners should weigh all the options before making a decision. Small changes, like product shifts, are still okay, but large changes like selling a house or moving counties that divert investments from one goal to another, need serious consideration.
As lifestyles change, significant shifts happen, or new dreams take shape, those markers will indicate the time to review the possibility of changing the course of the plan. You’ll also need to keep in mind the risk tolerance of your clients. Perhaps as they age, they have more money available and feel as though they can take a bit more risk with their investments, or maybe they will become less risk tolerant as they age and look towards retirement. The objective is to understand the stage they are in, appreciate the changes that are pushing for a new plan and provide what is best for the client.
Ultimately, it comes down to those regular meetings, having financial conversations every couple of years and making sure that the plan in place is the right one, given the current and future situation.
Listen, Explain and Care
Sometimes it just comes down to listening to the concerns of your clients. Often, something may trigger fears that they aren’t on the right track – maybe a TV ad, something in the news or someone they know went bankrupt. As a trusted financial advisor, you’ll need to continue to build on your relationship and reinforce the trust they have placed in you. This is no place for quick explanations or pat responses. Your clients depend upon you to do what’s best for them, and that is your duty. Therefore, you must take the time to listen to their concerns and explain products, situations and plans in a way they will understand and appreciate.
Showing you care is the best way you can build trust. It’s all the more critical to create a lasting, successful relationship certified financial planners have the power to make or break their client’s financial future.
If you’d like to pursue the certified financial planner program and make important financial decisions for your clients, join Ashton’s CFP program today.